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Into the Outdoors: Philosophy of the “Old Guys”

Last week’s column about fishing frustrations prompted some interesting correspondence. Unfortunately, I have suffered from all the things readers mentioned. They included slipping on a wet dock, which landed me in the river, discovering too late that your hip boots or waders have a leak, breaking the starter rope on a boat motor, especially when far from the dock, and falling into the creek in early trout season when the water is still brutally cold. Last, but by no means least, is launching the boat with the drain plug out.

You know, when I was young, I used to sort of chuckle at some of the philosophy of the “old guys.” Now that I am one, I have gained a lot of understanding. I have found that aging can certainly change one’s outlook on things.

As a young man, I hunted with genuine passion. An unsuccessful hunt was cause for genuine distress. Nowadays, I am grateful for still having the ability to get out there and try. There was a time when I would have laughed at such an idea, considering it the ultimate in corny. Not now.

Nowadays, I don’t hunt anything I don’t plan to eat. I once hunted groundhogs all the time. I couldn’t wait for them to come out in the spring. In fact, I have several rifles geared for that specific purpose. As young men, my best friend and I would eat the occasional groundhog, as they are genuinely delicious. We did, however, let a lot of them lay where they died. Not anymore While I still sometimes get a hankering for one on the grill, the thought of cleaning it in the hot weather almost turns my stomach. Now, I just leave them alone.

Don’t get me wrong. I have no quarrel with anyone who wishes to hunt them, and I fully understand why farmers want rid of them. They do tremendous damage to crops, and their holes are a danger to livestock that might step in them.

I have mentioned before that I just plain don’t like bear meat. I no longer hunt them, although I did as a young man.

I used to be an avid coon-hunter. While I still occasionally miss the bawl of a Bluetick or Black and Tan on a hot track, I no longer have any desire to kill a raccoon. In fact, I don’t even mind if they come on my porch and eat the cat food.

When it comes to fish, it’s a different story. I love to fish, and I have no problem with taking them home and eating them. About the only fish I won’t eat are carp and suckers, although I have read some recipes for suckers which I just might try one of these days. For the time being, though, I simply return carp and suckers to the water unharmed. Some anglers toss them onto the bank to rot but, to me, that seems senseless. Mind you, I am not against catch and release if that is what you want to do with your catch. In my case, however, legal fish are probably destined to become table fare. Also, I still get kind of upset if I get skunked fishing.

I know that some of you young folks are probably chuckling at all of this. Just wait. Your day is coming.

On another front, tick season is really heating up. In fact, a couple of weeks ago, Old Bub’s wife had to take seven of them off him after just a short time in the weeds. I learned that a plain old possum will eat thousands of ticks each season. On top of that, they are kind of cute, in their own way. Sparrows are big-time tick eaters as well.

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