I’ll choose a fun bunch of hunters or fishermen any day over a group who takes their task outdoors far too seriously. In fact, it’s the group of sportsmen who know how to laugh and tease one another before, during and after the outing whom I want to be around. Those who are so focused and serious on achieving some lofty sporting goal…want little to do with them.
Perhaps that’s why I watch very little outdoors television. It just doesn’t inspire me to watch edited video of hunters performing at the top of their game show after show as if they were some super hero with a bow. I want to see sportsmen razzing each other for a missed shot or a fish that didn’t quite get landed in the boat. The real outdoors contains more misfortunes than achievements and laughter is one of the best medicines to soothe the sometimes painful sting of that reality.
And that’s why I like deer camp.
It certainly doesn’t take meat hanging from the deer pole to generate a good story. In fact, some of the best stories often end with an unfilled possession tag still in the hunter’s pocket.
This past weekend my buddy, Mitch, had taken several shots at deer with no luck. Of course, the obvious banter revolved around the fact maybe at the age of 52 he finally needs glasses to see things better. After some good-natured teasing Mitch’s son whispers a confession to me. “Dad just got glasses but he doesn’t want you guys to know about it. He was having trouble in the deer stand keeping them from fogging up.”
You know what that’s called? That little tidbit of disclosed information in secrecy is called fodder. Fodder for continued harassment and amped up commenting about needing glasses. Oh, Mitch has shot and missed a deer since that information discovery…and you can believe now with renewed enthusiasm we commented about his eyes obviously going to hell quickly considering he’s reached middle age.
And that’s what the outdoors should be about. Not bullying or relentless griping about how someone is a failure in life, but a friendly give and take that is interrupted occasionally by smiles and laughter.
Honestly, when you take the fun out of the outdoors for me it becomes a chore. I don’t voluntarily get up early and go sit out in a boat during the rain just to catch fish. I do it to both catch fish and to experience the process of catching those fish. Often times its the happenings and down-right discomfort about the experience that gets long remembered afterwards.
Certainly, I’m not saying how a person shouldn’t go out on the lake or into the woods focused and serious about why they are out in the first place. But, I do think that today more than ever there is a pressure on sportsmen to succeed. That pressure comes from TV, it comes from industry experts giving seminars, it comes from an array of products promising the world if they get used in the field or on the lake.
Truth is, the savvy sportsman knows when to funnel the mental energy into concentrating and focusing on the techniques that put them in the best position to score. And at the end of the day, rather than beat yourself up because expectations were not achieved…find a way to laugh at yourself and others. For it is the mature hunter who best appreciates how laughter is the best way to decompress from a stressful day spent in the outdoors world.
©2013 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.