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IT'S THE PITTS -- HUNTIN' FOR A HOBBY

by: Lee Pitts

My Doc said I'm getting to that age where I ought to consider slowing down. “Get a hobby,” he said. “Something that will reduce your stress and give you satisfaction.”     

“I have a hobby,” I replied. “I do leatherwork”

“Yes, I've seen your leatherwork. I was thinking of a more productive hobby,” the Doc replied. “Something you might be good at and could take pride in.”

There goes his hand-tooled leather fanny-pack for Christmas!

In looking for a more productive form of loafing, something to do while I'm not doing anything, I'm considering taking up either fishing or hunting, but it's not an easy decision. Do I want to smell like salmon eggs or deer urine? Do I want to gut a fish or dress a deer? Do I want to have my wife net my catch or have the dog retrieve it? Do I want to eat sushi or roadkill?

Admittedly, there are some similarities in the two hobbies. Both hunters and fishermen are covered in bug spray, get up early to get a head start on their prey, and both spend a fortune in Cabelas catalogs, tags and licenses.

I think I'd be good at either hobby. Anyone who has read my column for any length of time knows I'd be an excellent fisherman because I can exaggerate and tell lies. On the other hand, I'd also be a good hunter because I can cheat real good. The idea of using turkey callers, deer feeders, blinds, spotlights and decoys really appeals to the inner con-man in me. I also think I'd be especially effective at using natural scents to attract, or repel, game. Whatever the case may be.

I could use some exercise and I'd think that hunters are probably in better physical and fiscal shape than fishermen because they have to drag their game long distances. Or pay a guide to do it. I understand that some hunters only hunt from the front seat of their truck and that does sound relaxing, although sitting in a boat drinking beer all day without the chance of getting shot sounds a lot less stressful.

I'm leaning towards becoming a non-fishing fisherman in my retirement years and you'll probably never guess why. I'll give you a hint... surprise, surprise it has to do with my being a tightwad. In glancing through my Cabelas catalog it is obvious that hunters are big on two things: camo and ammo, and both of them seem terribly expensive. Now, I have never been much of a dresser, ask anyone who has ever seen me and they'll confirm that while some people in my position are dressed to the nines, I am mostly dressed to the twos. To be a hunter I'd have to buy insulated socks, long underwear, hunting bibs, a camo outfit to match all different terrain, and an orange hat and vest to keep from getting shot by other exquisitely attired hunters. To be a fisherman I'd hardly need to change my wardrobe at all, other than hooking a couple dry flies in my ball cap. I did notice that Cabelas does sell camo waders for fishing but I figure I'm too dumb to catch any fish that is so aware of its natural surroundings.     

I'd probably be better at drowning worms than playing with guns because I am accident prone, get lost easy and don't like animal rightists following me around. And the idea of spending three days tromping through the woods without shooting anything doesn't appeal to me. Even if I did manage to kill a deer I hate venison. At least I'd eat a trout if I ever caught one.      

Then there is the skill level. Any bird that is slow enough for me to shoot would be way too old and tough for me to eat. Plus, if I come home from a trip skunked I could always go to the store and buy fish to proudly hand over to my wife. Where am I going to find elk or grizzly meat when I need it? I also like the idea that if I catch a fish that is not photo-worthy I can throw it back in. Try doing that with a dead deer.

I understand that there are some men who pursue both hobbies, fishing AND hunting! I'd assume such men are wealthy, workless and wifeless.

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