As I staked out the long-term forecast and searched for some bright spot in the near future — hopefully for the upcoming holiday weekend — I caught a fragment of the interview with David Letterman that was going on in the background noise of the television morning show, in which he and the host were talking amidst the waters of a small stream in upstate New York, fly rods in hand but no fish to show for their efforts. In the snippet that grabbed my ear and pulled me away from my hunt for a warming trend, the former “Late Night” host more or less suggested that the fish in the water can sense who is on the other end of the line holding the rod, and their negative energy (and apparent need to finish the interview on a timeline) and that was part of the pair’s problem that particular day.
Even four years out from late night, Letterman can still elicit a laugh, and I tuned in for a few more minutes before getting ready to face the day; because his statement was correct in all my experiences. I’ve rarely entered the outdoors hopeless, or angry, or sad about something, mainly because when I know I’m going fishing, or hunting, or for a quick walk in the nearby hills with my dog, I’m excited to be doing it. For me, and I’m sure many others, each such adventure is a form of release and relief from the everyday world and a positivity just seems to meet that optimism which comes with just being outside. This connection in turn buoys that good energy that leads to success, and on some days it is more than I could ask for.
The mere ability to be outdoors and to experience the sights and sounds and have the opportunity to hunt and fish means my glass is already half full. Nature takes care of filling the other half. I know where the spigot is, I’ve got the hose, and the ability to turn the knob. It isn’t long until my cup runneth over. Some days my cup is smaller than others, say when exploring a new lake in spring, or sitting on a warm and breezy afternoon for whitetails in the fall. I expect a good sunrise or sunset and hopefully some action at the end of the line or some movement in the last half hour of legal light, and that’s about it. Everything else is gravy. Other days — say a warm sunny one in August with a weedline I know is loaded with crappies, or a calm evening in early November, where the deer seem to be running laps around my stand, my cup is a little bigger, and my expectations a bit higher. Those days, when success seems like a guarantee, I like to think I can bottle the memories and save them for a rainy day when only the precipitation fills the other half of my proverbial glass.
Along with that rain, I’ve certainly faced some challenges in the outdoors that might sour my outlook for a trip, dull the experience some or not quite fill that second half of a bigger cup. Elements such as weather, wind, and my own wondrous ability to overlook small details as I get ready to go out or come in, may cost me a bird, a deer or a piece of a fin on my boat propeller. As another saying goes, “when you lose, don’t lose the lesson.” In defeat there is hope. In the mistake there is a lesson. Something positive should always come from something negative, even if it doesn’t right away. I’ve never forgotten to leave my shotgun loaded until I touch the tire on my pickup truck after Birdzilla flushed 10 feet away from my vehicle that one autumn. I’ve always nocked an extra arrow in the sweat of a summer practice session, thinking about the deer I shot over a few seasons back. Let’s just say I trim up on my motor more now than ever when things look shallow or rocky.
I can’t prove it, but I’m certain the natural world gives back double to a person who enters with a good mindset. Whether it’s the full stringer loaded by beginner’s luck or the payoff of a trophy animal resulting from well-prepared plan for a hunting trip a decade in the making, those experiences and so many other good memories are things that only happen positively … in our outdoors.