By Old Man Body
In today’s world, we measure everything by how connected we are: how fast we can text our friends about another terrible Buzzfeed article, how funny our Snapchat from the toilet was, how we can tell our Twitter followers how much we fucking hate those assholes out running in 30 degree temperatures (I’m guilty of all these... today.) It’s certainly not a bad thing; I’m thankful I don’t have to have face-to-face interaction to get everything accomplished. I’m more efficient with my time and having a smart phone keeps me tuned in with everything going on in the world instantly, like Kim K.’s slick dumper blowing up the internet.
That being said, we’ve strayed too far from our roots. A few generations ago, our ancestors had to fight and struggle to survive every single day. When my grandfather grew up during the Great Depression, if somebody in the family didn’t catch a limit of brook trout or shoot a few rabbits, the family went hungry. This was a mere 80 years ago. Many of us have devolved into gaping pussies, cowering the second our LTE drops to 1x. However, it doesn’t have to be that way, and I’m going to lay out why you need to get back to living like your ancestors, if only for a few days a year.
Nature is Really Neat
A few years ago, I was with my ex-future-father-in-law hunting grouse in the far northern UP of Michigan. It was a typical late October day in Michigan: the sky was steel grey and overcast, the leaves had lost their early October luster and the temperature barely hovered over freezing. That being said, it was a perfect late October day: the dogs were holding their points, we were getting 5 flushes every hour and I was knocking down my shots. And by knocking down my shots I mean burning through an entire box of field loads without cutting a feather.
The cover was thicker than the hair on my head (luscious flow) and we could only see a few feet in front of us. The dog ranged out a little too far when we heard the first howl. After a matter of seconds, the entire pack lit up, howling and barking for all they were worth. And they were close, around 400 yards away in the thick timber. We called for the dog and hit the remote to give it a light buzz on its shock color and received no response. The wolves lit up again, closer this time, 200 yards. I was nervous and the hair on the back of my neck was on end. I’d seen wolves before from the highway, but I had never been down and dirty in grouse cover with them. Because we had no sign of where the dog was at, we made a quick decision to push hard to the wolves to get on them before they reached the lost dog. A 50 pound English Setter stands no chance against a wolf pack and a few dozen bird dogs are lost every year to wolves. We had guns and a vest full of ammunition but my asshole was still puckered tight as we barreled through the thick brush.
Five minutes later, we found the dog and the wolf pack gave one last howl at no more than 50 yards away. It was one of the most surreal things I’ve ever experienced and without hunting, I would have never had a chance to do something like that. When you’re out hunting and fishing any area, no matter how remote, you see things you don’t see on your morning drive into the city or the bullshit trip to the farmer’s market with your girlfriend on Saturday morning. I’ve fly fished the Missouri River with mountain goats on the ridge above me and golden eagles soaring over head. I’ve watched hawks scream down through the trees and crush squirrels from the branch across from my treestand. It’s real circle of life shit, man, and you’re missing out.
It’s a Group Thing
Most of the time when I’m hunting and fishing, it’s a group sport. Deer and bird hunting have very deep roots in my family and my favorite weekend every year is when we all get together in deer camp on our large farm in an Upper Midwestern state. We sit in the lodge and pore over maps, tactically planning the next deer drive like we’re about liberate the entire fucking Middle East. When the day is done, we drink ice cold Miller Lites, celebrate the successes of the day and razz the shit out of anyone that missed a big buck. Bird hunting or taking fishing trips work the same: go with 2 or 3 of your best bros, stay in dumpy ass motels in towns smaller than your high school graduating class and hit the rural dive bars for $2 Bud Diesels at the end of the day. It’s L-I-V-I-N. Keep in mind, you’re generally off the grid with no cell reception, so you get to work your OP with some company, and let me tell you, there’s no greater feeling in the world.
The Fairer Sex Digs It
First, if a girl is so completely turned off by hunting/fishing/being outside that she won’t tolerate it, tell her to fly a fucking kite and move on. Girls love a guy that’s in tune with his outdoors side. “Oh my god, my dad goes hunting,” they’ll say. Free tip: girls generally want to date a guy like their dad, so I’d suggest buying a new shotgun and hitting the range.
That being said, it’s a great opportunity to do something with a girl that most guys aren’t going to do. Everyone goes apple picking and every other asshole is taking her out for sushi. Don’t be like the crowd, because you can be better than that. If it’s summer, find a stocked pond and take her blue gill fishing. Better yet, teach her how to shoot a gun. I’ve introduced a half dozen girls to shooting. Most of them were very apprehensive at first but the second they squeezed the trigger the first time, nothing but ear to ear smiles. Last, this is the complete redneck in me, but I’ll even take a girl squirrel hunting. It’s low intensity, you can walk around the woods in the fall when the weather is nice, bag a few tree rats and teach her about the different types of flora and fauna that you come across.
You Get to Eat What You Kill
My favorite part about deer camp every year is the end of the day when we’re hanging the deer up to dry age them in our shed. You take the hides off to cool the meat down rapidly but more importantly, you cut out the tenderloins. Six hours after harvesting another nice buck, you have the tenderloin cut into small pieces, frying in butter on a hot skillet. For those of you accustomed to ordering off steakhouse menus, that’s the filet. It practically melts in your mouth. You get to turn the backstraps into the leanest, best eating kabobs on the block. We process our own meat and make the most succulent deer jerky east of the Mississippi. If you’re so inclined, you can take it to a locker have any number of confections made of your kill. That walleye you caught jigging on Bay de Noc? Filet him out, batter him in Shore Lunch and pan fry the shit out of him and I guarantee it tastes better than the pellet fed, farm raised walleye you’re eating at your local restaurant. Not only that, but you harvested that animal so there’s an extreme sense in pride knowing you can do better than the asshole going to the grocery store picking something that’s been sitting out in a cooler all day.
And don’t think for a second I’m not tying this into girls again. I have a half dozen grouse breasts in my freezer this year from a trip to Michigan I took in October that I’m just waiting to cook for the right girl. If you can’t impress a girl by cooking her something you killed or caught yourself, and getting the right wine pairing (chardonnay for birds, cab sauv for whitetail/big game), then I don’t want to live on the this planet anymore.