Try something new in the outdoors

Luke Clayton
Jeff Rice shoots a video of Larry Weishuhn for an upcoming episode of "A Sportsmans Life."

Looking back on well over a half-century spent as a very active participant in all sorts of hunting and fishing endeavors, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s more fun to diversify than stick with one method of hunting or, fishing for that matter.

There was a time in my life when I hunted exclusively with a muzzleloader or flintlock and then I discovered how much fun it is to get really close to game while bow hunting. For a couple of decades, I bow hunted exclusively. And then I discovered crossbows and more recently big bore air rifles.

Some anglers, known as ‘fly fishing purists’ snub their noses at anyone using bait or lures for that matter. Some even go so far as to become ‘dry fly purists’, that being the most challenging of all methods of enticing a fish to rise to the surface to take what it thinks is a tasty bug of some sort. Anglers that are ‘purists’ have one method of fishing that they often become very good at. Me? I’m of a totally different mindset. I’m just as happy baiting a #4 treble hook with catfish bait in Texas as I am double hauling an elk hair Caddis on a remote mountain stream in Colorado for trout or working a top water plug in a school of surface feeding stripers.

Likewise when it comes to hunting. I maintain my archery skills throughout the year and dearly love hunting with my Gearhead bow but I am also quite content using my Texan 45 caliber big bore air rifle in the deer or hog woods or, one of my centerfire rifles if the situation dictates. My point is this: There is much to experience in the outdoors and time is short. Learning a totally new method of hunting or fishing is great fun and for me, it’s kept the ‘spark’ in my love for pursuing fish and game.

How many guys or gals have you known that make a statement something like this? “I have killed so many deer with my old 30/06 through the years that I just don’t enjoy hunting any longer.” I have personally helped several of my friends that found themselves in this situation to rekindle that spark simply by exposing them to some aspect of the outdoors that was totally new to them.

Remember how exciting it was when you first began shooting that center fire, or bow, muzzleloader, shotgun, crossbow or air rifle? You were not only challenged by learning the limitations of your chosen hunting tool but also by becoming proficient enough to feel comfortable taking game with it. I have a few friends that are lifelong hunters and are still perfectly content heading to the woods with the hunting weapon that they started with years earlier and that’s just fine. But for those that start getting a bit bored, a totally new style of shooting/hunting might be in order. The same applies with fishing. Take largemouth bass fishing for instance. I have buddies that are bass fishermen, exclusively. The thought of dunking minnows or jigs into a brush pile to catch crappie never crosses their mind, nor does baiting a hole with soured grain and catching a ‘mess’ of catfish. I guess the old axiom ‘Variety is the spice of life’ can in certain situations hold true in how we go about continuing to enjoy the outdoors.

Writing about the outdoors for the past 30 years has become as natural to me as waking up and drinking coffee in the morning. I don’t think I will ever become bored with writing. Through the years, I have become known as an ‘outdoor writer’. Writing is what I have always done. I hunted and fished and related my experiences in not only this column but outdoor magazines, books and later blogs as well. And then I was a guest on a friend’s radio show that aired in another state. He asked me why I didn’t begin doing my own outdoor radio show. Radio was totally new to me but I got started and had fun learning as I went along. This was 12 years ago and thanks to beginning something totally new, I now enjoy my work with radio almost as much as I do writing about the outdoors.

Then about 16 months ago, my good friend Jeff Rice asked if I would like to begin doing a weekly outdoor video that depicted the ‘real world’ of a couple of avid hunters and fishermen. Jeff is a very good videographer with a passion for the outdoors. We vowed to film and air our outings exactly as they happened. This meant some weeks we weren’t able to video that wild hog being harvested on camera or, a limit of catfish while filming a creek fishing trip. But the little show has become a success. I learned that folks enjoy reading, listening to or watching the outdoors unfold exactly as it does and that does not always equate into catching lots of fish or shooting a monster buck.

Another great friend, Larry Weishuhn aka. “Mr. Whitetail” has recently joined Jeff and I on the video and we’re all having the time of our life doing something totally new, at least to Jeff and I.

There is way too many fun and challenging things to do in the great outdoors. So, if you might be getting a bit bored, give some serious consideration to trying something new. I can guarantee it will but that ‘spark’ back into your outdoor fun!

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