Meridian Star


August 17, 2012

What Keeps Us Going Back?

MERIDIAN —    Back when I had limitless energy, I often fished for bass on a weekend day from daylight until dark. Several times my partner and I fished the whole day without getting out of our small jon boat. I often was distressed when I got hungry and had to stop casting for a couple minutes in order to choke down some Vienna sausage and crackers. And on many of those days we only caught a few bass. In reflective moments both then and now, I have wondered why I persisted in the face of such meager success.

    I hunted deer, very hard, for eleven fruitless years before I bagged my first one. Granted deer were scarce in my woods in the fifties, but eleven years? Fellow hunters questioned my stubbornness, and I too wondered what exactly kept me going back to the cold December woods in my cotton clothes and unlined brogans.

    Beyond my own experiences, bowhunters often sit in trees for countless days, freezing their corpuscles and trudging home empty handed only to rise before dawn the next day and do it all over again.

    And there are scads of fly fishers who carry fly rods that severely strain their family budgets to distant waters where they infrequently catch pencil length trout and return them to the water.


The Reason?


    Why? I don't have the whole answer, but I feel certain I understand at least part of it. Acknowledging that no two outdoor sports enthusiasts have identical cravings, my offering is necessarily a generalization.

    First, the aesthetics of the outdoors draw each of us to our favorite wild places. The depth of nature's beauty dazzles us. And we do not need to collect bounty to sustain our need to visit and revisit them. Being there, where we feel we belong, is enough.

    Yet what runs over the full cup is the anticipation of interaction with the object of our adventure. We expect the tiny noise in the leaves to foretell a stately buck slipping into view in the next moment. A vicious gobble in response to our muted yelps brings the vision of a strutting tom to our mind's eye. A swirl in the water near our floating plug causes us to tense in readiness for the strike.

    Anticipation in the outdoor sports is the expectation of specific interactions, or the hope that cherished outdoor events of the past will somehow happen again. Those moments between the time when the confrontation appears to be likely and when the encounter actually occurs hold forth an esteemed promise. And this state of anticipation may just be the magnet that draws us so forcefully to the sport.

    So called buck fever is the result of our losing control of the anticipation. Buck fever takes hold of most of us now and then because we sometimes are overwhelmed by the excitement of the outdoor moment. Our camera shakes to the point of unsuitable aiming. No matter our efforts, our gun sights wobble out of control. We try to make the perfect cast to the spot on the water where a large bass struck a minnow, but we blow the attempt and backlash our reel.

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