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Outdoor Life - Size matters to most trophy hunting outdoorsmen
Outdoorsmen have a flair for embellishment when telling their tales
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I caught my first trophy bass at around the age of 6 and I’ll never forget that day. The big fish hit a plastic worm that I was inexpertly dragging along the bottom of our small pond. The day had been slow to that point and my attention to detail had no doubt waned somewhat in the hot summer sun. A few minutes after the bass actually struck, I realized the line was going sideways so I feverishly tightened up the line and set the hook. After much tail-walking and thrashing about, my trophy finally succumbed to the pressure and onto the bank he flopped.
    I immediately took my prize into the house to show off and discovered no one was there. I then moseyed into the master bathroom and used Mama’s scales for the weigh-in. The verdict was (more or less) an astounding 2 1/2 pounds. Then, like any good fisherman worth his salt would do, I immediately considered him to be a solid 3 pounds.
    He has grown in stature ever since and currently hovers around 6 pounds. I’m glad my school teachers taught me how to round up. It’s been a very useful tool over the years.
Now what I need to tell you is that there are certain guidelines hunters and fishermen should follow with regard to their trophies. One is that when telling your story to other trophy seekers one should always augment the actual size of the fish, deer, elk, rhino or exotic species you have conquered. The second thing to remember is that the degree of difficulty in obtaining your trophy is exceedingly important and will impress your audience as much or more than will the actual size. It pays to be creative here so that your stature within the group will grow and become legendary.
    Let’s consider, for example, the following scenario. Several of your buddies are hanging out over the back of a pick-up truck late one afternoon. Pick-up trucks are one of the favorite meeting places for sportsmen. For years, I didn’t realize what those guys were doing or what was so interesting in the back of those trucks. I later learned that one of two things was going on. Either they were quenching their thirst after a long day at work or hunting and fishing stories were being told. In 95 percent of the cases both of these activities were going on simultaneously. This is the place where legends are born.
    The key here is to casually saunter up to the group, grab a bottle of Coke and then wait for just the right moment to tell your story. Don’t just start blurting out that you have recently caught a 14-pound, 4-ounce bass. That is a crass and ineffective way to enhance your position. You don’t want them to think of you as a braggart.
    The best strategy is to appear as if you’ve done nothing special and lull them into a false sense of security by thinking they can embarrass your lack of trophy production. Pounce only when asked by one of the group, “You caught any fish lately?”
    Now you can lay it on them, and my advice is to lay it on thick. Something like this might be suitable for you to say:  “I actually did catch a nice little fish this past week but it wasn’t easy. The weather was miserable and the lake was guarded by a mean-tempered old man armed with a shotgun. He had two Doberman Pinschers and a Pit Bull, all of which were on high alert. I had to come in from the back side through a snake-infested beaver swamp, making sure all the while I was down wind of the dogs. I knew right where the fish would be because I’d scouted out the area the previous day. He struck my plug on the first cast and I winched him out quickly with my new super-fast ratio reel, then headed back out the way I came.”
    They are going to fall all over themselves asking how much the fish weighed, and you can just let your imagination run wild with that one. I have found that saying “around 14 1/2 pounds” is a nice starting point that will suitably impress the boys.
    At the end of the story (unless I’m sorely mistaken), everyone will reach for another Coke out of the back of the truck and you will be the new hero and center of attention until someone else comes up with a whopper better than yours.
    The things you can always depend on with us trophy hunters is that there will always be plenty of Cokes, the pick-up truck will always be the meeting place and the stories will just keep getting better.

    Alvin Richardson may be reached at