In order to be considered a really first-class outdoorsman by your peers there are some essential characteristics that are required. First of all, let’s define outdoorsman. According to Mr. Daniel Webster of dictionary fame, an outdoorsman is: One who frequently engages in outdoor activities and adventures such as hunting, fishing, golf, and yard maintenance all within the proportional framework of what is allowed by his or her spouse.
I’d say that’s a pretty accurate description.
The prototypical framework to which Mr. Webster alludes usually follows what we outdoorsmen call the 5-5-5-85 rule — that is to say 5-percent hunting time, 5-percent fishing time, 5-percent golfing time and 85-percent yard-maintenance time. As part of a 30-year study, my wife has discovered this formula works exceptionally well and we now adhere strictly to it.
OK, back to the original question. How does one become a renowned outdoorsman, one who is recognized far and wide, one whose advise is sought and whose exploits are legendary?
The first requirement is that one must first be an eloquent philosopher. Second, there must be a highly developed sense of how to strategize your way through any given situation and, last, the truly great outdoorsman must actually be able to shoot straight, catch fish, break 80 on the golf course and, most importantly, have a yard that would make Augusta National envious.
Let’s break those characteristics down.
As my hero, Patrick McManus, once said, “Scholars have long known that fishing eventually turns men into philosophers. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to buy decent tackle on a philosopher’s salary.”
Well said, but the fact remains that in order to trick people into thinking you are a top-shelf hunter/fisherman/golfer/yard man, one must pontificate on a regular basis. It helps if you can come up with pithy sayings of your own that make folks believe that you actually know what you are talking about. If you are not smart enough to come up with original axioms, you may be forced to steal some. Look for anonymous sayings and cultural proverbs that fit your profile and then commit them to memory.
For example, when one of your buddies comes to town showing off a particularly impressive deer or largemouth bass, it might send you into a fit of jealousy but you certainly don’t want anyone to know that you are envious. Wait until a crowd has gathered around the back of the pick-up truck (where all great trophies are displayed) and say in a bored tone, “Bragging may not bring happiness, but no man having caught a big fish goes home through an alley.” This will enhance your status by letting the group know you are totally unimpressed with this fellow’s obvious ploy to join the ranks of great outdoorsmen. Your statement will also markedly increase your status as a philosopher extraordinaire.
Another situation outdoorsmen/philosophers find themselves in from time to time is a discussion of the weather. If your group’s dialogue is revolving around a spate of sorry, rainy climatic conditions which prohibits outdoor pursuits you might use this line: “Sunshine all the time makes a desert.” That will stop them in their tracks, and once more your standing as a wise and shrewd purveyor of wisdom will be enhanced. Philosophers must be armed and ready for all situations.
Next, we move on to the characteristic of strategist. All good outdoorsmen must have the ability to adapt to any problem that arises or may arise in the field. Let’s say you and your buddy want to go fishing. Neither aspiring fishermen has a license and the there is only enough money between you to buy one license. Good tactics dictate that you purchase a single license and then give it to the fisherman who is slowest afoot. That way when the game warden shows up the guy with the license can run and thus draw the attention of the officer and the fleet-footed one with no license can get away.
See what I mean? The great ones are always prepared for any eventuality.
Last, but certainly not the least of the necessary characteristics great outdoorsmen display, is the ability to actually execute in the field. Shooting prowess, the capacity to locate and land fish, as well as having a knack for shooting 78 on the golf course, are all prerequisites to greatness.
Alas, I must admit my shortcomings on these particular points. I routinely shoot over or under my intended target, whether it be stationary or on the wing. My ability to consistently put fish in the boat is debatable, and as for carding a 78 on the golf course — well that’s just a distant memory.
Even though I’m an above-average outdoor philosopher and an exceptional strategist in the field, my aspirations to become a member of the Outdoor Hall of Fame might never be realized because of my deficiencies in basic execution. The only hope I have lies with the prospect of doing really well in the yard-maintenance category, so I’ve got my sights set on becoming an official Yard of the Month winner. That might mean altering the 5-5-5-85 rule slightly, but I am willing to go the extra mile. Hall of Fame, here I come.
Alvin Richardson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.