Paying Attention To Detail; The Sportsman’s Greatest Asset
I just finished reading a 200+ page book that contained two spelling errors. Seriously, in today’s world with computer typesetting and spell checking how can this even happen? Moreover, I have to believe several sets of human eyes thoroughly perused the manuscript proofreading the copy prior to press. Yet, it still happens.
Perhaps even more egregious is when a person holds themselves out to the world as an outdoors writer and they commit these same sort of terrible spelling sins. Case in point. Recently I was reading the social media profile of a person who claims to be an outdoors writer. In fact, this particular person is sort of “in your face,” so to speak, with the fact their life is all about writing. Just one slight problem. No matter how professional their prose may actually be…the fact their profile lists their profession as an OUDOOR WRITER [their spelling] just has a way of leaving a bad first impression. Know what I mean?
Hey look. Nobody’s perfect. I know if you were to peruse the many pages of this blog and the other writings I have done over the years I, too, have made my share of dumb mistakes. Will probably do so yet again before this post is even fully written. But the point is we should all strive toward honing our “attention to detail” skills. It will benefit us throughout life.
Back in 1996, while getting my paralegal degree, I discovered one of the biggest faux pas I’ve witnessed in a legal setting. While studying Minnesota Landlord/Tenant Law, I discovered a statute (M.S. §504.181, Subdivision 2) that didn’t make complete sense. It was a simple, yet very important error. The word “Lessor” had been used when it should have properly been “Lessee.” The law had been enacted and on the books for years. Scrutinizing eyes of both the Minnesota Legislature had missed it, as well as the Revisor of the Statutes who holds the main responsibility of ensuring errors like this do not get enacted into law. Yet, errors happen…and it pays to be vigilant scouring the details of every situation.
Take the game warden who is hot on the tracks of trying to break a case by getting a few more facts to strengthen a pending conviction. The good ones not only read tire tracks to know their suspect has been in the area. Indeed, the good wardens can get their eyeballs down closer to the dusty road and also determine the direction of travel much like a hungry predator in hot pursuit of its quarry.
Hunters are no different. The ability to observe the details and then properly interpret them can set you apart from others also traipsing in the woods. Sometimes it can be looking for little things that just seem “out of the ordinary.” Other times it may be just a sixth sense that gnaws at you to believe this is where you should sit or how to place your deer stand.
The same sort of careful insight can give one tournament fisherman the edge over the competition. Sure, it’s easy to claim how one successful fisherman always seems to have a “lucky horseshoe” in the boat, but the truth is that angler has likely developed better attention to detail on reading the conditions. After all, most fishermen have the right gear and information to be successful, yet the difference can be so subtle in the interpretation of the signs. Logic might dictate fishing in one particular manner over another, but a “gut sense” might tell a consistently successful fisherman to stray slightly from the mainstream thinking.
It’s hard to teach the development of attention to detail skills. I agree, to some extent certain people just seem to walk through life more aware than others. On the other hand, I’ve also noticed how one of the biggest impediments to honing an attention to detail awareness is pure laziness. I have a teenage stepson that way. He will repeatedly walk over some object that doesn’t belong there until eventually I believe his mind no longer observes it. The next person will come along and their mind will question…”Why is this laying here” and then subsequently pick it up and put it in the proper place.
It’s easy to walk through life not watching for those blatant spelling errors. In fact, our mind’s eye is trained to know what the word is supposed to be even if it’s missing several letters or they are slightly jumbled. Yet, I contend how you approach these proofreading situations is often how you approach interpreting many aspects of life, particularly in the outdoors. The road map to being a success sportsman is not always clearly defined or obvious. Sometimes it’s necessary to develop the knack for observing with a keener eye than most folks are willing to give a situation. In the end…paying proper attention to detail tends to pay off for those who recognize its importance.