The memories of hunting and fishing trophies are a precious commodity to those of us who enjoy the outdoor life.
Many days, weeks, months, years and lustrums can pass in pursuit of that monster buck or wall-hanger largemouth bass. Because these accomplishments require so much time and effort and because I and many of my outdoor buddies are now getting on in years, those memories have a decided tendency to become, shall we say skewed, when they are re-told.
Many of these stories are given new life in the illustrious breakfast houses of Madison and Morgan County. Places like Waffle House, Ye Olde Colonial Restaurant, Katy’s Corner and Buckhead Station are veritable hot-houses for the nurturing and growth of these tall tales of exploits in the field.
I suppose you could consider these accounts as plain old bragging, but that is actually a misnomer. More accurately they could be referred to as stretching the truth.
An even more precise term might be big old whoppers, but the strictest definition would be downright lying.
I’ve discovered a funny thing about the memories of hunters and fishermen. It’s kind of like a law of physics.
It goes like this: As one’s memory of hunting and fishing trophies erodes or lessens over time, the size of the actual deer or fish that was bagged increases at an inversely proportional rate.
Anyway, it’s cheap entertainment on a rainy morning when there is nothing else to do.
I always enjoy hearing these tales. I recently heard about an immense buck that was killed in the distant past. (Don’t forget about the law regarding memory accuracy versus time lag). This noteworthy trophy had some characteristics which should give the Boone and Crockett Club reason for pause to re-consider the accuracy of their record books.
First of all, this particular animal was cunning beyond belief. To hear it told, the big buck was nothing more than a ghostly apparition that could have taught General McArthur a thing or two about strategy in the field. It took several lustrums (spans of five years) to finally bring him down and based on this narrative the deer was probably well past his 50th birthday before succumbing to our crafty storyteller.
Of course, the elderly buck was not only wily but was blessed with dimensions that were in close proximity to the imagination of our friend who was amusing us with the tale.
The animal was of such weight that the earth trembled when he ran. Although his actual mass in pounds was not part of the report, the size comparison was somewhere in the vicinity of one of those horses that pulls a Budweiser beer wagon. The big boy left tracks on the ground that were closely akin to those of Sasquatch and the rack was of such magnitude that a 12-foot john boat would have nestled neatly between the outside beams.
We were also given the details of the shot that finally felled the mammoth deer. Because the buck was so shrewd, our hunter could only get to within a half a mile of his target whereupon he adjusted the aim with his iron sights (no scope for our guy) and plugged him right behind the shoulder in a feat that would have made an Army Ranger sniper proud.
It was an epic saga that had everyone oohing and aahing, mainly because we wanted the group to do the same for us when we told our own whopper. On the other hand, maybe it was just the aftertaste of our breakfast sausage that caused those oohs.
I probably ought to stop now because I’m trying to remember about a bass I caught in the distant past so I can tell the guys about it.
That fish was so big that when he tail-walked over the surface he flooded our boat with the water from his splash. Of course, that was a long time ago and the true details may have escaped me over the years.
Old Man Time creates a lush environment for growth of fishing trophies and I don’t want to be accused of telling a whopper. If I think hard enough the poundage of that fish has probably matured somewhat from the original, but what the heck.
Fond remembrances are one of our most pleasing possessions even if they aren’t always totally accurate.
I think I’ll just keep my memories right where they are, and anyway, it really was a big old bass.
Alvin Richardson is a contributing writer, retired educator, and public speaker. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.