I feel sorry for people who golf. Honestly, what odors associated with that popular sport titillate the olfactory senses to the point of creating a lasting memory? Freshly cut grass, perhaps. Maybe a slight hint of soapy golf ball cleaning fluid? That’s about it. Or how about swimming…possibly the pungent aroma of chlorine? Or with tennis…body odor from heavy perspiration? Truth is, when it comes to enjoying an activity offering a bevy of interesting odors, there are few other activities in life that can match the many interesting smells associated with being a sportsman.
Oddly enough one of the odors most shooting sportsmen will quickly associate with is none other than the original Hoppe’s #9 Gun Cleaning Solvent. It offers a distinctive smell that has been shared by several generations of hunters and target shooters over the past 106 years.
I also particularly savor that pristine freshness of a new gun taken out of the box for the very first time. Maybe it’s the raw anticipation of having something new, but it presents a wonderful sensory experience to many of us. Yet, I find even the gun oil used to keep precious firearms protected has a satisfying scent about it.
Of course, somewhat along those same lines is the sweet aroma of burnt powder residue from a spent shotgun shell. Couple this with a cool, crisp, fall morning while sitting hunkered down in a cattail hidden duck boat. Wow! You know life is good.
Or maybe it’s the eye-watering smell of wet dog curled up next to your feet, or the stiff stench of marsh gases being released from the decaying slough on a windless day. Hey, I didn’t say that all odors had to be pleasant to be memorable, did I?
Speaking of that, have you ever encountered a skunk? Yea, we all know the sort of odor for which they are famous. But let’s not forget the fishing sportsman, either. A good catfish stink bait must fall pretty close to skunk on the obnoxious odor scale. Sometimes even a good whiff of the minnow or crawler bucket can also clear the sinuses, if you know what I mean.
Shucks, one of the true signs of being a successful angler is having that distinctly noticeable fishy smell on your hands. While it’s not always unpleasant to you…it surely seems to offend those around you who haven’t been fishing…er, shall I say catching.
I must admit I also have a deep fondness for campfire smoke. Perhaps throw a mid-morning shore lunch on that fire with the potatoes cooking and the fresh fish frying…hmmm, this can only be what heaven must smell like. Next, pour a steamin’ hot cup of camp coffee and let that fabulous coffee bean aroma waft toward your nose. Ahhh….
No doubt about it our outdoor adventures provide a smorgasbord of odiferous opportunities. Whether we’re recreating in pine country of the north woods, sage brush country, oak or even hi-mountain aspen environments…each has a unique smell that permeates the sportsman’s soul directly through the nasal passage.
Seriously, the list of odors encountered by the modern sportsman is virtually endless. This time of year you’ll find large displays at most sporting goods stores showing countless deer lures, animal urines, curiosity scents, cover scents…you name it. Find yourself overwhelmed by all the scent? No problem…modern technology has even developed scent eliminating products. Just spray or wipe it on.
The main point to all this is our sense of smell is very important to what we do outdoors. Good or bad, the variety of odors we encounter becomes a vital element of our total outdoor experience. It’s amazing how a certain smell can be absent from the mind, for say 20 years, and then suddenly it will evoke a rush of fond memories from the past.
Indeed, I feel sorry for participants of any sport that stimulates only certain physical senses. Even though my vision, hearing and touching are vital senses…I can’t imagine enjoying the outdoors the way I do without also including a keen sense of smell.
© 2009 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.