Some folks consider outdoors people lazy, slovenly, and loutish. I beg to differ. Outdoorsmen (and women) often go to great lengths to accomplish a worthwhile goal, often doing so by highly admirable means.
A man I knew, for instance, hunted a particular trophy-class whitetail buck for an entire season. This hunter scouted the big deer for weeks prior to opening day, patterned its movements, and knew by heart all his daily comings and goings through its bottomland territory. The fellow was a superb woodsman; skilled, determined, and ethical.
Hunt after hunt, the hunter’s trophy eluded him. No matter what he did, the deer always gave him the slip. The contest was tantalizingly and agonizingly close at times, but the results were always the same. No chance arose to take a shot at the big buck he so earnestly wanted to harvest.
Still, the man kept trying and adapting, finally determining his trouble lay in how he was entering and exiting his hunting grounds. The buck, he figured, had him patterned as well. This was no 1 ½-year-old four-pointer, and he hadn’t become a trophy by being stupid.
So the hunter changed his tactics. He began arising an hour earlier to slip via canoe up a small creek which ran near his deer stand. Rain or shine, freezing cold, no matter the weather, my friend stuck to this new plan. Difficulty and hardship were minor issues.
Three days before season’s end it all came together. The dream buck fell to a well-placed .270 bullet and the man proudly floated his trophy downstream and home.
If that’s lazy, I’m William Faulkner.
Then there was the lady fly fisherman I once observed on a catch-and-release trout stream, another admirable outdoorsperson with determined perseverance and no dread of hard work.
I watched from a secluded vantage point on the opposite bank as the woman spied a large brown trout lurking beneath a rock outcrop in a deep, dark pool. Knowing this wary fish had no doubt been caught, released, and pressured innumerable times, she had come prepared.
First she removed a camouflage coverall from her day pack and put it on over her jeans and khaki shirt. Next, she pieced together her fly rod and carefully studied the contents of her fly box. Making her choice, she tied on her preferred offering and slowly moved away from the creek in a wide semicircle until she was in position to double back and approach the pool with the sun in her face. This to avoid spooking the fish by casting her shadow over the water. Finally, she slipped a mesh-net camo hood over her face, dropped prone, and crawled on her belly into casting range.
All this took roughly 15 minutes, after which she painstakingly fished the pool for about the same length of time before resignedly giving up and moving on. The big trout never rose, not once. Despite that, I was left with the distinct impression she would return later to try again. I’m also convinced she likely caught and released that fish before season’s end. At least I like to think so.
I’m inspired by such sights and stories. These brother and sister sportsmen make me proud to have logged so many hours and miles in the great outdoors. I’m also honored to chronicle their dedicated exploits for the benefit of the misinformed, who have obviously been watching outdoorsmen like me rather than the intrepid sportsmen they should be observing.
Me? Well, I’m apt to decide to go deer hunting on the spur of the moment, shoot a nice fat doe from the edge of an easily accessed rye field, and drive home dreading the prospect of skinning and gutting. I’m also quite content to wade noisily up or down a trout stream, in my bright purple sweat-stained T-shirt, catching 5 or 6 not-so-smart hatchery-bred rainbows on crickets or meal worms. After either event, I normally kick off my shoes, loosen my belt, scratch an itch or two, and fall sound asleep on the sofa.
Hey, I never said there aren’t a few slovenly, lazy louts among us.
Just don’t judge all of us by me and mine.
Email Bob Kornegay at firstname.lastname@example.org.