Never Lose Your Sense Of Humor Over A Bad Day Spent Outdoors

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.

You can’t assemble a group of hunters like this in close proximity without the BS flying and the laughs flowing non-stop.

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.

These fishermen have a contest ongoing…and that is to see who can score the best insult on the others in fish camp.

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.

Kids + Fish = Fun

I’m on vacation this week and one thing I’ve sure noticed that hasn’t changed over time is how catching fish brings out the pure excitement in kids. In most cases, the species of fish doesn’t really matter…it’s merely the act of “catching something” that garners the raw thrill. And that’s how it should be.

On the other hand, I’m also struck by the utter frustration kids develop when the fishing action is slow. When instant gratification isn’t achieved, today’s younger set wants to “throw in the proverbial towel” way too quickly and opt for some other opportunity. Oh how things have changed since I was a kid.

Back 40 years ago resorts didn’t have game rooms filled with electronic video games luring young minds with a pocket full of quarters. They didn’t have fancy inflatable water toys tempting children to just spend the day splashing around in the lake. I truly don’t recall fancy playground equipment costing tens of thousands of dollars. Nope, I don’t remember any of that at a Minnesota fishing resort back in the 1960s & 1970s.

No, when I was a kid most resorts lacked the fancy amenities I just described. In fact, when the family went to the lake it was mostly about the fishing–nothing else. As a kid your choices were rather simple…you either stayed back at the cabin with mom and all your aunts, or you went fishing with dad and your uncles. The choice was usually rather obvious.

Am I lamenting about my lack of having fun opportunities when I was a kid? Heavens no. I totally accept how today’s vacation resort must cater to families beyond the fishing set alone. It’s all about marketing and diversifying to cater to all interests.

Nope, what concerns me instead is just how easy it is for today’s children to give up on fishing by opting for some other type of fun. Honestly, I truly believe parents in the 21st Century are faced with far greater challenges than ever before when trying to raise children by attempting to develop a passion for sports like fishing and hunting.

As parents, I believe its prudent on all of us to recognize how the joy brought to a child by catching a fish is not the same excitement achieved by winning some video game. It’s certainly not the same kind of smile a kid gets from splashing in the lake or from using playground equipment.

Indeed, a smile that graces a young child’s face from catching a fish is a smile resulting from pride and achievement. It’s the same sort of smile that kid will again experience 50 years later in life enjoying the very same activity.

If our beloved sports of fishing and hunting are going to get passed on to future generations, as parents we need to create more smiles. And I’m talking about the right KIND of smiles.

©2010 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.  No Reproduction without Prior Permission.