Thursday, June 9, 2022

Experts and Pros



         A few years back I was amused to see where there were a dozen or so "outdoorsmen" competing in an event to determine the best outdoorsman in the country.  Reckon they actually narrowed it down to the very top outdoorsman? How ridiculous is such and effort. Most likely, the very best of the outdoorsmen would never even become involved in such a silly thing.  I say silly because one of the events was "ATV handling".  Today's suburban outdoorsmen who are the targets of the people who sell outdoor gear, would find that to be a real test of your outdoor prowess.... how you handle an ATV, maybe how you can handle a bass boat with a 200 horsepower motor, and how well you can manipulate a foot-control trolling motor.  There might be an effort to see who can shoot an assault rifle fastest.  I would imagine these contestants are city dwellers as well.

         I knew some outstanding outdoorsmen, and they lived in the woods. There are some left here in the Ozarks. I have long known a Canadian who is truly an outdoorsman.  He told me once that if you want to see what ability a man has in the outdoors, and what kind of knowledge he has, send him out to a wilderness lake with what he can pack on his back, and a good knife and an axe.

         In truth, great outdoorsmen are mostly gone now, and they were men who didn't handle ATV's. When I was a kid I knew some that were World War One veterans. I recognize real outdoorsmen by seeing the love and understanding they have for the outdoors.  The men who truly are experts have no desire to be called that, and they do not live in suburbs or cities, they live in the woods, somewhere.  We have arrived at a time when the men who truly understood and knew the ways of the wild are old men, or long passed away. The few young ones were those who spent time with those men, in the woods or on the rivers.  Most of what they knew, we are losing.  But this much is true, there are more experts in the outdoors today than you can shake a stick at.... more pros and champions and authorities than fish in the sea.  Lots of them are fairly hefty-bellied, thus the need for ATV’s.  They can’t walk far!

         For an outdoor partner, give me someone who will slowly walk the ridgetops and the valleys from daylight to dark and be sorry the day has ended.  Give me someone who loves it so much he can't tire of the songs of birds, nor experience enough the sound and smell of rain coming across a still valley.  Give me someone who notices the scent post of a fox as a passes, who finds the pellets beneath an owl roost.  Put me in a boat with someone who can paddle so slowly and quietly even the beaver and the mink and the wood ducks are unaware of his presence.  Give me a man who passes up the unwise or risky shot, and usually doesn’t need but one cartridge.  A man who can clean game quickly and efficiently, who takes only what he uses and wastes nothing.  Give me an outdoorsman who tempers what he learns from books with what he has learned from his experiences beneath a hardwood canopy or along a flowing stream.  And spare me the professionals and the experts, for no man who truly knows the outdoors and it's wild creatures ever figures he know that much.  The best of the true outdoorsmen feel no desire to boast or compete, nor seek out crowds.  Spare me also, the ATV handlers; I have nothing in common with such ‘outdoorsmen’!  

         You may never have thought of this, but technology is going to play a big part in hunting in the future.  It will come in the use of drones to survey a large area to show you where the elk or moose or deer are; even the dwindling flocks of wild turkeys.  There will be no way to outlaw them.  Same thing with the new ‘depth finders’ that will make it possible to find fish in a way that tells you the species and exact length.  Get the right technology on your boat and failure is no longer a problem.  What a great thing that is for tournament anglers!  What a bad thing it is for the future of fishing.  Most lakes will not see the big fish they once had.  They will be found so easily everyone can find a trophy for now.  But maybe not in the future! They may soon be gone for good.


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