Thursday, February 16, 2012

Fixing Things That Don't Need To Be Fixed

My fingers have become numb from typing.  Obviously, I haven’t been writing for my blog but I have been writing.  I’ve been trying to get caught up on some article assignments and I am now 2/3 of the way to being caught up.  Of course, being caught up only means that I will then return to other writing projects that are sitting in the wings, which includes two book projects, “The Pines Review,” and a couple of other projects that are close to my gizzard.
I’ve decided to keep the name of this bog as it is.  Why fiddle with something that works?  Too often we are tempted to do exactly that and when we succumb to the temptation to tinker it is the rare person who can honestly say they’ve improved things. That’s a problem that plagues the entire outdoor industry--too many people want to “fix” something that isn’t broken. Throughout the four days of the SHOT Show I kept hearing complaints about different aspects of the shooting and hunting world needing to be “fixed.”  I was starting to wonder if what some of these people were talking about was castrating NSSF because a complaint that I heard several times was that NSSF should not allow the law enforcement/tactical companies to exhibit at the SHOT Show.

When I asked why, the answer was usually that SHOT stood for Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor, Trade and not cops and robbers.  The funny thing is that I can remember when the big controversy in the press room was the presence of “black guns” in the show.  In fact, one day during a past SHOT show, the chief executive of NSSF rushed through the aisles of the show to a booth where the infamous black guns were being displayed and he ordered the guns removed or the company would be evicted! 
The guns were taken down.  Another year there was a controversy over paintball guns and still another one was over the presence of crossbows. All of these disputes have faded and finally disappeared, but I am not so sure the debate over the law enforcement and tactical exhibitors will be so quickly resolved. The disconnect between these exhibitors and the rest of the shooting and hunting industry is one that is too easily fueled by grumbling malcontents who want to maintain a purist approach to shooting and hunting. I think that is an entirely wrong approach.  There is already too much division between various groups of the outdoor industry and grumbling about the presence of law enforcement and tactical exhibitors at the SHOT Show isn’t helping to heal those divisions.


Saturday, February 11, 2012

I Have Returned--With a Question

I’ve been “checked out” of blog writing for a number of weeks.  Whenever I sat down to write anything I felt pangs of guilt for not having written for my blog.  I felt as though I was cheating those who have been reading my musings.  The problem is that I didn’t want to write anything and the few post that I have made during these weeks of absence were little more than apologies for not posting.
Not good.

But, I was thinking about something that was troubling me.  When I get into one of these “mood” projects I frequently lose myself in my thoughts and write these thoughts down in one of my notebooks.  The whole process is part of a mental movement that begins with a mental “tick.”  Something that I’ve seen, heard, or read, strikes me as odd and I find myself returning to it and thinking about it.  How long it takes me to resolve the issue to my satisfaction, or at least to a point where I want to present it to others, is not predictable.   I’ve got many notebooks, not all of them full, but into which I write my thoughts whether for something I want to write or a problem I am wrestling with.  A couple of notebooks have notes, jottings, drawings and whatever else seemed to be relevant to a problem that I first started writing about several years ago and I still think about and write on.
My blog issue hasn’t been completely resolved but it is something that I want to “bring out.”  My mental twitch is that writing a blog as “The Thinking Hunter” is somehow incomplete.  Besides hunting I am an avid angler and this spring I will be putting my boat back in the water and hopefully spending more time on nearby lakes.  Should I expand my blog from “The Thinking Hunter” to “The Thinking Angler & Hunter”?  Or, as some of my notes suggest, would writing about both angling and hunting in one blog confuse readers?  The pages of my notebook on this topic seem equally divided with thoughts that adding angling would be confusing pages of notes that explore reasons for making the change.

Now, to some readers this may seem like a trivial topic, but I believe it begs the question of whether there truly is a strong link between angling and hunting.  We know that Wayne Pacelle and his crowd, the sworn enemy of all anglers and hunters, has a life mission of ending hunting and fishing.  That alone should create a strong link between angling and hunting.
I am not sure it does.

At the SHOT Show I had the pleasure of having dinner with a small group of bloggers, mostly gun bloggers, and as I listened to them I realized the distance between the hunter and the gun enthusiast is real and often wide.  That gap is created by the number of issues between the two groups; therefore a similar gap, between hunters and anglers, exists and is equally wide. 
What troubles me, and is driving my question is that by these gaps we are allowing ourselves to become segregated by our activities rather than united by them.  By focusing my Internet musings on hunting I tend to believe that I am contributing to the problem.   There is an old truism about who’s ox is being gored and suddenly all of us in the outdoors seem to be thinking more about our personal ox, that is the ox of shooting, the ox of hunting, the ox of bowhunting, ox of shooting, ad infinitum. 

I believe that those of us who have opted to focus our work on the issues that surround our preferred outdoor activities should consider stepping back from that gap we’ve created by the “single issue” approach to the preservation of our outdoor activities and lifestyle.  The divisions between shooting, hunting, and fishing, are providing openings through which our opponents are driving wedges to weaken us.
This is not a new problem but one I’ve been aware of thought about throughout my career, but it is being exacerbated by the explosion of social media and the gaps are becoming wider. 

When I think about what I value in my outdoor activities I cannot separate my hunting from my fishing as favoring one over the other.  Nor can I separate the values I put on shooting, whether casual plinking or shooting at known distance targets, from my hunting.  I believe the outdoors is a lifestyle that runs the entire spectrum of emotions.  Casting a fly to a feeding trout in a beaver pond produces as much excitement and accomplishment as a center bull’s-eye shot from several hundred yards or finally shooting a deer that I’ve hunted for days.  In the outdoors have too much in common, too many shared emotions, too much to lose, to allow those gaps to grow and perhaps become festering wounds between us. 
Do you agree?