‘Why do I do this?’, is the question I ask myself a lot more often then I care to admit. I ask it about school, I ask it about work; I even catch myself asking it as I’m sitting in the truck on my way to wherever I may be hunting or fishing that day.
Let me paint the scene for you; I work some odd jobs for the university I attend. I knew going into it that I wasn’t going to get rich, but it would buy textbooks and beer. Sounds decent right? Sure. Ideal? Well, not always.
My priorities first and foremost are being a student, with work coming second, closely followed by whatever fun things I may be trying to do with my free time. (Sorry hun, a couple more years of this and you will get moved up the list, I promise.) Sadly, hunting and fishing also falls into this third category.
Seeing as my student duties outweigh my work commitments I end up working odd hours; right now I’m on a Friday evening/night shift that starts at 3PM and usually finishes up around 1:30AM. And all that happens after my school day. Needless to say I’m pretty spanked by the end of the night. But for some reason I do this crazy thing once in a while where I crawl into the seat of my truck and make the two hour trek to my buddy’s place on the other side of the state.
By the time I arrive, physically, not mentally, I usually have enough time to unpack the clothes I want to be warm in the morning, check the woodstove, and shut my eyes for maybe an hour. As I come to by the sound of barking chihuahuas it hits me again; why do I do this? Why would anyone just getting off an 18ish hour day drive two hours and sleep(nap) on a 50 year old couch corduroy to go stand around on the ice with a stick in my hand and try to coax one of those slimy, bait stealing little jerks up from the depths!? Simple; it’s fun.
Those cold mornings spent with the boys punching holes and dropping lines are all uniquely some of the best days of my life. Even when we can’t even catch a buzz; I wouldn’t give up the laughs, the stories, the banter or the bullshit for the world. That bonding time where we pack three of us into a one-man flip over and sit around a buddy heater like we’ve just discovered the elixir of life! Because in that moment, we really have. We’ve discovered a way to break up the monotony of our daily lives, we found a way to laugh, to hangout, to relax, and most importantly, enjoy one of the greatest assets we have up here in the northeast; the great outdoors.
Flags flying or not, I am never sad walking off the ice at the end of a day. Sure I’m tired, I may be cold, my bait bucket is most likely empty, I may even have nothing to fillet when I get home. But that’s ok. All of it. Sure, being able to put food on the table, a trophy on the wall, or a picture to brag about in one of the 20 different Facebook groups I’m in are all great outcomes. But it’s about more than just that. It’s about being able to unwind after a long shift, it’s about being able to moan about that garbage thermodynamics exam you took last week, it’s about getting together with friends and family to laugh and sharing the glorious opportunity we have to be free of everything in life we tolerate!
What I’m trying to say is its ok to question why you(we) do what you(we) do. Every day in the outdoors is a journey, a struggle even for different reasons, but there’s something that keeps us coming back. Some may call it a sickness; I’ve admitted to being insane out there a time or two. Think about it; what we are trying to do is drag an object the size of a pen cap, through an area the size of a bath tub, in a body of water that could be 130 miles long and hope something that’s body is essentially shutting down is able to put enough cognitive thought together and say ‘That looks tasty.’
Next time you’re on your way to your stand or the lake and you are wondering why this is what you’ve decided to do with the short time you have on this little rock called earth; don’t worry about it. You’ll remember why soon enough.
Flags up and bait down,