There are a lot of different kinds of friendships. I'd be lying if I even claimed to know what they all are. But regardless of where a friendship starts, it often grows around trust. Otherwise, the relationship usually just withers and goes away. With trust, time, and the outdoors comes a really interesting bond.
A while back, I was working through my mental checklists for an upcoming visit from one of my brothers (of course we were going fishing!), and he asked, "What gear do I need ?" The answer? None. My exact words were, "You ain't got to bring a thing, Brocephus." Why? I have fished the waters we'd be fishing, and I know I have the right gear to get on it. And in fact, I have two sets of said gear. And despite my keen ability to break rods in half, lose lures in the trees, and nearly blow choke tubes out of the end of shotguns, I don't need to roll with duplicates of everything on a quick local trip like we'd be making. Why should my brother have to bring anything? We got it all here already, afterall.
I thought about it for a little while, and realized what my statement, "You ain't got to bring a thing" means, beyond, "What my wife says is true - I do have too much gear!" But there's a lot more meaning in there. The statement communicates a series of subconscious handshakes, winks, and pats on the back without wasting a breath or a keystroke. The meat of it? "I know what we need, you can trust me to take care of it, and I want you to focus on getting here, because being together is the most important part." And it does take some trust for the other person to humor you, and not bring a 10' box trailer full of their own gear on their trip to visit you.
I also thought about how many people have honored me - really asking me for my trust in them - by telling me those words over the years. Yeah, of course it's often a bit modified, like, "Waders. License. Stamps. Be here," because there are certain things you do have to have on your own. Think about that last part, though - the "be here." It made me think about friends like Seth, who drove 40 minutes out of his way, the day before my visit, to buy me a county-specific trout access stamp. Or Scott, who occasionally invites me to hunt at the farm that he and his brother bought a few years back....10 dozen decoys, quality duck blinds, a good ATV, and good conversation are all free, and part of the deal. Or John, who meticulously maintains his offshore duck blinds and just always tells me, "Warm boots. Dozen Krispy Kremes. 6am at my dock." These are all great invites. But these guys, and similar people in our lives, are more than just wonderful hosts. And these are more than just invitations.
They are people who are willing to share that which is most basic - their time and their knowledge. Their space and its ability to pull birds, fish, or other critters seemingly out of thin air. Well, on some days, anyway. Their thoughts on any variety of conversational topics that may come up - from lost boyfriends and girlfriends, to found husbands and wives, to spiritual battles both won and lost. From misunderstood gun dogs to 30-year old bulletproof groundhogs. From their feelings on the day their first child was born, to their feelings on the day they laid their best friend to rest. You're the guest - and you've been invited to a front row seat to it all. You may even bag that citation trout or your first cinnamon teal. And you ain't got to bring a thing.
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