Dammit! I had a wonderful introduction to kick off this blog post and “POOF!!!” It disappeared from my brain before I could even get the words down in pixel format. This seems to be happening to me more often as I grow older. I will walk from one room to the next and forget my reason for making the trip. Sometimes I’ll be driving in my truck and a flood of great ideas for future blog posts fills my mind…only to be lost by the time I eventually attempt to write them down on paper.
I suppose it goes with the territory of getting older. Forgetfulness is not a good thing. In its worst form it could be an indicator of an underlying medical problem developing into a bad life-threatening memory condition. To a lesser extreme it becomes a plain and simple mental nuisance.
Of course, the sportsman cannot afford to have these mental lapses no matter how slight they may be. Mental acuity for the hunter or fisherman can often spell the difference between success or failure when outdoors. Indeed, as a sportsman grows older I am here to proclaim concentration and memory recall can fall victim to brain synapses not quite firing the way they once used to.
One of the big things I have learned since turning 50 is to make a list on paper. Or, for that matter, make them on your smart phone if this works better for you. The point is a person has to write it down and document it. Good ideas are like gems the do not come along every day. It’s such a shame to waste the thought by letting it slip away into oblivion.
Another good thing lists provide is an opportunity to prioritize activities. There’s simply nothing like looking at a list to have certain items jump out at you deserving greater attention. I construct my list in no particular order (sort of as a brainstorming exercise) and then those activities with more important completion dates get circled (or highlighted in some manner).
Focus and Avoid Life’s Distractions
When I get up from my office desk and wander to another room it’s because I have a purpose in mind. Then, about halfway there I will look over at my computer printer to discover something I printed, but had forgotten about. BAM! I just lost my focus. Now, I might remember I was going into my bedroom, but I forgot why the reason was to get my wallet for a credit card number.
The same lost focus can occur outdoors. When you’re muskie fishing and making a hundred casts per hour the monotony of the activity can cause the mind to look for other forms of stimulation. Maybe there is an eagle soaring over the lake capturing your mind’s curiosity. Maybe your fishing partner keeps digging through his tackle box and it has you wondering what he’s doing. Perhaps there’s some strange activity taking place on shore and your interest is piqued.
Focus vs. distraction can be a challenging thing to overcome for the sportsman. Inevitably that muskie will strike when your attention is diverted away from setting the hook. When split seconds matter keeping focus can be one of the most challenging tasks asked of the sportsman.
There’s no simple solution for avoiding distraction. I think it’s human nature to lose concentration and be susceptible to distraction as time goes on. When a person fishes or hunts for relaxation I believe focus is not as important. On the other hand, the sportsman who wants to hunt or fish with a serious attitude much like a pro has to develop the mind to stay honed and sharp.
Eat Right and Stay Hydrated
It should come as no surprise that a sharp mind is fueled by proper nourishment. Likewise, a dehydrated body can play unwanted tricks on a person and I would guess many sportsmen—whether out hunting or fishing—tend to stay less hydrated than is ideal. And obviously, there may be a reason for doing this to avoid bathroom breaks, but that can work against a person.
I’ve said it before in these blog posts how several years ago I did a story on hunting accidents and made the correlation to farming accidents. At the time, agriculture safety specialists studied the peaks and valleys of blood sugar levels and how this contributed to poor decision making leading to accidents.
I think the same can be said about sportsmen. For whatever reason, sometimes the sportsman just does not take the time necessary to pack with a few energy bars or a sandwich to keep their stomach from growling. But that food can do much more than settle a rumbling stomach. It can also keep blood chemistry in check that helps keep a mind functioning at optimal performance levels.
Honestly, I should not have to convince most sportsman to drink and eat properly. I think we all appreciate the importance of doing so. Yet, it does pay to give some attention to exactly what foods and liquids we put into our bodies. Snack foods might fill a void, but they do little for providing a well rounded mid-day snack. Likewise, grabbing a cold brew while out on a hot lake sounds ever so tempting, but that bottle of water will actually do your body better if maintaining focus is critical.
You know, getting older means getting wiser. Or, at least I would like to think so. Yet, part of growing older is also realizing that an aging body has shortcomings that a body half its age has yet to experience. Yeah, it’s not fun to forget things especially when they are important to you.
As one grows older a person needs to be prepared to make subtle lifestyle adjustments to their routine in order to stay sharp and effective. Maybe a few less beers, perhaps paying greater attention to eating properly, keeping a notebook and pen in a pocket. It’s important for the older sportsmen to recognize as a body ages it requires different things. And of course, a bit more sleep never hurts anything either. That reminds me, it’s nap time and I am doing it with a tactical outdoors purpose in mind.