Answering The Call of ‘Whatever’

30 Dec

There comes a time in life when preparing to be out there is as much, or more, fun than the actual expedition.

It’s like the phases of a hunter’s life. The growth from how many to how that seems to be a universal experience.

Just as universal is the young man’s thought, while watching an older hand putter around in preparation for an outdoor event: “That’ll never be me.”

But it is, eventually.

My late father-in-law, Ken Roush, summed it up for me once. He was getting ready for an annual expedition into Canada in his motor home with fishing boat in tow. During the day he had referred repeatedly to “the list,” and had tweaked and double checked items and issues that I knew he never let lapse on a day-trip.

So I observed that the difference between us was that I would squeeze in time in advance of an adventure to ensure that gear was in shape, packed and ready; but it appeared he was really enjoying himself.

“I do enjoy it,” he said. “It’s all part of the trip, and sometimes it’s the best part of the trip.

“You can’t always predict how a trip is going to turn out. Fish don’t bite, weather turns sour, one of your partners gets sick, the truck breaks down – there are all kinds of things that can disappoint you on a hunting or fishing trip.

“But preparation? You can control everything when you’re getting ready, and that makes it fun. You grease reels or load new line on them; you touch up everything so you know that when you get there, everything you can control is under control.

“Then you just take your chances.”

And I remember thinking, “That’ll never be me.”

This summer we went up to Wisconsin to fish for salmon out of Algoma. The two weeks prior to the trip were spent in serious preparation, and it was a hoot. Now part of that might be that when you don’t have a regular, full time job, you have the time to putter.

And it seems outdoors guys, given time to putter, will fill that time puttering.

This winter Susie and I will travel to Louisiana’s Grand Isle to fish for trout and red drum and whatever else will pull our string, and the puttering has begun. Because this is a first-ever trip to that part of the world, the preparation is earnest.

We’ve loaded new lines on rarely used “big” spinning reels. (Most of our spinning needs involve bluegills, walleye, etc. and require only tiny ultra light reels. The reels we have for more serious fishing hadn’t been used for years, so we needed to clean them up and make them ready.)

And “the list” is in full production.

Packing for a week in the out there more than 1,500 miles from home requires planning.
There is plenty of gear and clothes on the list already, and it’s growing.

While we dream of screaming runs from powerful fish on idyllic days afloat, we can control only that our gear is ready for whatever.

It’s the call of “whatever” that drags us out there and leads us to prepare with passion as we understand that this is all just part of the trip.

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