I know many hunters and fishermen who pride themselves on being highly educated when it comes to the lexicon of their hobby. They are well versed on every little nuance of the language of the outdoors to the point of snobbery. They laugh disdainfully at those of us who are not up to date on the most modern outdoor vocabulary. I would simply like to point out today that those people may not be as smart as they think, and in order to do this I have decided to give a few examples of the real definitions of some of these terms.
I should point out up front that the spellings of some of these words have been corrupted over the course of time, so don’t let that throw you off. Also it is important to note that some of these terms have multiple meanings but what I will give you today is the primary meaning. That is to say when listed in the fishing or hunting dictionaries my definition will be the one listed first.
For example take the phrase “catch and release.” The uneducated snob of a fisherman will tell you that this is a noble habit of letting a fish go as soon as it has been caught no matter how big it is or how long it took them to catch it. I’m here to quash that explanation. “Catch and release” can best be defined as the strategy employed by 99 percent of fishermen everywhere in which a boatload of fish are released back into the habitat as soon as the Game and Fish ranger’s boat is spotted coming around the bend.
Then there’s the term “Skeeter.” Most of the vocabulary elitists will quickly go into a discussion of this as a type of fishing craft that is well-known for its power, versatility and sleekness. I hate to tell them but that is the furthest thing from the truth. “Skeeter” actually has two primary characterizations. The first is a small, blood-sucking insect that will aggravate sportsmen into a screaming fit making it impossible to aim a bow accurately or cast your lure into the water with any degree of exactness. The second designation of the word “Skeeter” is that it is the name or at least the nickname of over half the hunters and fishermen in the world. The other half are named either Tater, Bubba, Cletus or Joe Bob.
So you won’t think I’m getting too fancy here I’d also like to include a really simple outdoor term like “afar.” The snooty crowd will get that glazed over look in their eyes and define this word by using a corny, sappy sentence.
“As I gazed out over the mountains I spotted an elk from afar on the mountain opposite our position.”
Any fool knows that “afar” is what you use in hunting camp to keep warm. Some people just make things much more difficult than they really ought to be.
Of course there are also technical terms like “rut,” which avid hunters use to describe the time of year when male white-tailed deer are on the prowl looking for female companionship with which to cavort. However, in the real world that term means something else entirely and it is not a bad spot in the road. Rather it is the condition of a would-be hunter or fisherman who cannot for the life of him catch a decent fish or locate a worthy buck. That person is said to be in a rut.
There are plenty of these terms to bandy about. The term “anchor” for those who go in for fancy descriptions thinks it is a weighted utensil used for holding a boat in place but the rest of us know better. The term “anchor” for most of the fishing or hunting population is that statement your wife throws out right before you think you are heading to the woods or water that results in you cleaning out the gutters instead.
I could go on and on. A “choke” is not a mechanism on a shotgun that determines the pattern on your pellets but rather is a missed shot at the buck of a lifetime because your hands were shaking. “Ebb” is not by any stretch of the imagination an outgoing tide and a primary time to fish for redfish but rather that waning desire that comes over you when you realize you will have to hike ten miles uphill to get to your hunting ground. “Blow” is not the sound a deer makes but can best be defined as what you often need while hiking those ten miles uphill.
Last of all there are words or phrases that have to do with the weather. Since hunters and fishermen are all keen students of these phenomena it is important to understand it. Take “hail” for instance. Many think that this is a meteorological pattern in which frozen bits of water pelt down on the sportsmen causing great discomfort but such is not the case. “Hail” is actually a mild expletive commonly used by outdoorsmen when things don’t go like they had planned.
So don’t get shook up when you find yourself in the company of those who think they know all the new-fangled jargon. My advice is to fire right back and them with a dose of common sense and some real-life definitions for the true outdoorsman.
Columnist Alvin Richardson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.