Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Outdoors and Lonely?

Don't need no huntin' buddy - got this here tripod on ebay!
 After returning from my long trip to North Carolina in April, I was bluntly reminded again that most people are not motivated to go outside and do anything, ever. 70 degree partly sunny day in April? Let's watch TV.   Shoot clays? No, TV.  Fishing? No, TV.  I had not made firm plans to do much fishing, hiking, or anything else during the trip, but let's be clear - it was a 6 day trip in April.  I fished for two total hours, and spent perhaps another 90 minutes walking in a park with Hank.  Unacceptable. 

As I tried to make other outdoor plans (fishing, hiking, scouting, even target shooting), they got pushed aside by other realities of our trip, namely, family obligations and total disinterest from other folks with beaucoups free time.  In fact, I literally spent more time discussing the merits and faults of the Bear Grylls line of knife products, while sitting on a couch in the air conditioning, than I did actually breathing air in the outdoors.  One fishing opportunity ended with a failed bribe - my proposed fishing partner (a 33 year old man) demanded that I purchase his fishing license for him. No, I didn't buy it.

 Bro, do you think that Black Tip saw my sweet slash?!

So, I recently came across a post at the Green Talk post, "Feeling Green and Lonely?" and after the Trip-O-Fail I described above, it is making me think a lot about what it means to be an outdoorsman.  I am not an extreme outdoorsman by any measure - less than 50 rec outings (not even days) per year on the water or in the woods....maybe 120 if you count outdoors work days.  I don't feel like that's really "a lot."  So why am I made to feel like I am some kind of Rambo or Tarzan clone? 

The buddy system is for wusses, brah!

And seriously, when I am with Hank at the playground, why do the other dads only talk about Wii and Michael Bay movies, and I'd rather talk about weather, boats, rivers, pollution lawsuits....and so on?  Alternately, we could talk about triathlons (which I know nothing about), turfgrass management (which I care nothing about), or even skydiving (which I neither know or care anything about).  Anything real and outdoors.  Anything real and tangible, even an outdoor space surrounded by pavement.   Your fundraising effort for a new city skatepark? Sure, I would actually take time off of work to go see the place. If the activity absolutely requires you to check the weather before you even choose your gear, then I'm game.

I'd argue that this is outdoors...from

The big question is why can't I seem to surround myself with men and women my age who love the outdoors?  The two obvious reasons are Hank and my workload (which will become three different jobs in August). I have no idea what the solution to this problem is, but for now I have to theorize that patience and a good game plan will work.

Once our family's financial situation no longer requires me to have 13 jobs like the Jamaicans on In Living Color, I hope to get dialed back into the groups I used to hang with, like Ducks Unlimited.  Sure, you don't want or need all of the local guys to be hunting partners, but it's nice to get together with people who you know have something important in common with you.  Another group I look forward to seeing is the Annapolis Surf Club - a group I helped to form 10 years ago, and whom I stopped hanging out with after other members bailed on surf trips (the 3am variety) several times in a row, without calling ahead to let me know. Major bummer.   

So what about any of you? Some of you, I know, are lucky to have fairly simple and daily lives afield with your family, or you have a small group of buddies who (for years) have joined you at a put-in point, boat ramp, or the same park or refuge to spend time outdoors.  What's your advice for me and my special conundrum? Anyone else suffering from this affliction?


Mark said...

I can definitely relate. I moved 90 miles away from my hometown 2 years ago so I have outdoorsy
family and friends an hour and a half away.

Clif from Lunker Hunt and I have hung out a few times but I don't really have many friends that are into the outdoors scene here. It would be alot easier getting started hunting and stuff if I had someone to show me what the hell to do.

I'm thinking of joining a local sportman's club that has ranges, a private pond and weekly events (trap, uspsa, etc). The only thing holding me back is the $125 initiation fee.

Alex said...

Oh lawd. I'm in exactly the same boat when it comes to friends who are outdoorsmen.

You'd think that with me going to school for Wildlife Ecology and Conservation (which includes wildlife management...we also share the building with the forestry guys) AND getting a minor in Fisheries, that I'd be running into all sorts of outdoorsmen/women. But no...

I've run into maybe 6 guys who hunt/fish in my entire major (about 70-80/class). It seems like 95% of the people in my major don't spend time outdoors, don't hunt, don't fish and just want to hug rabbits all day.

It's crazy. I'm certainly glad to have made the handful of outdoorsmen friends, but when I moved away to school, I was expecting to meet tons of people with similar interests...Not 6 :)

Like you, I tend to run into people who would rather talk about great prices at the new grocery rather than the upcoming deer season or the fact that the Redfish are practically jumping in the boat.

At least you aren't alone in the lonely aspect...if that makes sense haha.

Kirk Mantay said...

What a bummer!

Alex - When I was in wildlife school (Va Tech 92-96), that change was just starting to happen. Hang out with the forestry guys - most of them are still old school.

Mark - I def. encourage you to join up. It won't solve all your problems, but you're likely to possibly make a new buddy out of it, and if nothing else, you would have a new place to shoot/hunt/fish. My farm lease has been a letdown in the "meeting new partners" department but at least I always have a place to go by myself and/or with the occasional guest.

tugboatdude said...

Well Swampy you know how I feel anout this entire subject.Over the last few years I have tried everything in the book to get friends to go hunting/fishing and it seems they would all rather lie around and watch jersey shore on "the Devil Box".So what should you do?I honestly think the big thing is where you live.You live near a major city in the mid atlantis,not prime time for much outdoorsy stuff unless you are rich.Even then it wouldn't be much fun shooting clays with you man servant holding your wine glass.I'm not sure what the solution is but if you find one then let us all know.

biobabbler said...

I have a little question: what do you know about that 1st photograph. It's SO interesting, I'd like to learn about the scene 'cause it'd be fun to post and then talk about predators. =)

I get it re: not easy to find people to go outside with. I'm not a hunter, but I do remember just a few people in grad school were. I think the Forestry people is a good hint, I also think Fish and Game people may be more likely.

We ran into a shooting match in a corn field in North Dakota, a very small, local gun club thing, & I'd think there'd be lots of hunters at such event. And then you also know who's good! =)

LB @ Bullets And Biscuits said...

Like your brother, Tug pointed out, where you live has to be hard to find a true outdoorsman but I am sure they are some in the "big city" that you'll find if you keep looking.

Your question really made me think about our hunting/fishing buddies and how we met them since most of our friends are bikers or hot rodders. We met quite a few through turkey shoots but majority was when we joined our local beagle club. As for grandfather started the Delaware Mobile Surf Fisherman Club so we "inherited" quite a few of our fishing buddies. Our big score was when we joined a local hunting club and they had approx 5-6 huge, unfished, private ponds.

...So I am going to have to suggest you join some clubs!

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