By Steve Meyer, for the Redoubt Reporter
I know a hunter/fisherman who I used to visit regularly, and his hunting and fishing equipment was always neatly placed in his garage, everything with a clear order, all pristine and ready for use. I was impressed by this and was amazed that he was able to keep things that neat. After knowing this fella for some time, I realized that most of the enjoyment he derived from hunting and fishing was the constant fussing over his stuff. He rarely actually went hunting or fishing.
Spring is upon us and it’s time to get ready for the next phase of hunting/fishing activity. For most of us, this means sorting through the various piles of equipment we have dumped in a corner in haste to get on with the next outdoor activity. And the truth is, at least for most of the hunters and fisherman I know, the getting ready part is as much a part of the activity as the actual doing of it.
We pour over the latest outdoor equipment catalogs, including the hardcover Cabela’s that arrives in the spring and fall to the hardcore outdoor person who spends virtually all of their expendable income on outdoor equipment. A hardcover catalog; I know of no other catalog out there that is hardcover. Not just a catalog, it’s literally a volume worthy of placing on a decorative bookshelf and a testament to the passion hunters and fisherman have for their activities.
In any event, as I start to prepare for the fishing season to come, I marvel at the tangle of gear I have to sort out. Every year I plan to arrange my tackle and keep it neat and orderly throughout the season.
And I always start out great, separating gear in various tackle boxes destined for trout, grayling, salmon, halibut and rockfish. Inevitably, as I go through the various piles, I talk myself into running down to Trustworthy for more tackle boxes so “this year” I’ll really keep things organized.
Between my fishing partner and myself we have 11 tackle boxes and as we figure the next idea will be better, we give away several. I expect in my lifetime of fishing I have probably owned well over a hundred different receptacles for tackle.
By now I recognize that there is never going to be a perfect system for the likes of me. No amount of compartments, trays or the like is going to change the fact that when fishing, things go awry and end up a tangled mess. I really don’t know how the gear I have segregated at the start of the season strictly for bait ends up in the “no bait” tackle box, but it does. I don’t know who knows why my grayling flies end up in the tackle box used for pike, but I sure don’t.
Hunting is no different. Preparation for each type of hunting is the same as with fishing gear. Backpacks and daypacks are sorted and prepped for their respective uses and inevitably end up in one or the other when you only have one.
If you are a hand-loader, with each new season, no matter how good the load you developed the previous year, it’s seemingly irresistible to try a new one. Different bullets, maybe a change of powder or primers will create the magic load for which we all look, the one that shoots ¼ minute of angle from an off-the-shelf rifle. Maybe a new scope is in order, or finally that custom stock or barrel you have thought about for years.
Of course, there also is camping gear to sort out. How my backpacking stove ended up in my ice-fishing tote is beyond me, but that’s where I found it last year in preparation for spring backpack hunting. Who knows where I’ll find it this year. Oftentimes while looking for equipment I’ll be delighted to find items that I had long since given up for lost. I literally have topographic maps of the areas encompassing Unit 7 and 15 etched in my mind. Thirty-nine years of pouring over these maps makes an impression, but it doesn’t keep me from going over them again in case I missed something. I have two of nearly every topographical map on the peninsula for the same reason I have duplicates of fishing tackle — I misplace them, go get another and eventually stumble across the original. This haphazard way of the maniacal diehard hunter or fisherman, if nothing else, is a great economic stimulator.
Readying boats requires yet another significant effort. No matter that when they were put up for the season they were just fine, we have to fuss over them and find reasons to go pick up any extra whatever for piece of mind. The readying of boats in the spring always results in recovering at least a couple of items I thought were gone.
By the end of each respective seasonal preparation, there are always items that you are just not going to use. Things that are perfectly serviceable and useful, but for one reason or another you just aren’t going to see any additional field service. They get thrown in a box and become part of the endless storage of stuff that human beings seem incapable of avoiding.
Here’s a suggestion: Instead of storing that stuff, how about finding a youngster who is eager to participate in what we love so much, and give that box of stuff? It’s a great way to keep useful items from becoming part of the landfill, and it will no doubt bring a smile to that youngster’s face. All in keeping with trying to carry on the traditions we all would be lost without.
Steve Meyer has been a central peninsula resident since 1971 and is an avid hunter, fisherman and trapper. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.