I like quality stuff.
I especially like quality stuff that I use to hunt and fish with. Fly rods, reels, fly boxes, bows, arrows, knives, and the list goes on and on. Through the years I have accumulated a pretty good collection of outdoor stuff.
I am very particular about the outdoor gear I want. I don’t want just a daypack, I want a Badlands Tree Stand pack. I don’t want just a flyrod, I want a Scott A4 10′ 4pc 4 wt. Maybe a Red Ryder BB gun with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time.
It’s not because I am a snob, I just prefer buying quality gear once rather than replacing cheap items that fail after a season. I usually get what I need when I need it, which isn’t really a problem until someone wants to buy a gift for me.
Every Christmas I dutifully make a list of items I could use from Cablea’s, Bass Pro, Amazon, or my local fly shop. My email inbox as well as my actual mailbox are stuffed to overflowing with catalogs and coupons urging me (or my family) to buy the latest gear we can’t live without.
I remember where outdoor gear was purchased when I was a kid. We didn’t have mega-outdoor stores back then. We bought shotgun shells and flannel hunting shirts at Montgomery Ward on the square in my little home town. You could buy rifles at Sears. Or at the local hardware store, where each fall they had a small window display of hunting gear.
Gore Tex hadn’t been invented. Shotgun chokes didn’t screw in. Neither hunting clothes nor long underwear were camouflaged. Insulated coveralls for farm work doubled nicely as field wear when late-season pheasant hunts required fighting cold Iowa snows. Lacking those we wore our regular winter coats with old jeans; paper hulled shotgun shells stuffed in our pockets. Our boots were made of green insulated rubber. Gloves were brown cotton chore gloves that froze when they got wet.
In fact now that I think of it none of the outdoor gear I had (or borrowed) back then would be considered “quality” gear.
What was quality were the memories we made. Impossible long shots by my dad on more than one occasion on flushing pheasants. The time I doubled on a covey rise in a freezing rain that made my pump gun fire when a new round was chambered. The trips we never saw any game, and came home worn out, half frozen and hungry to a warm farmhouse filled with food and family. Sitting around watching football in too-tired-to-pull-off old wool socks, and dozing after dinner on grandma’s old sofa.
Maybe we have it wrong now. Maybe all our spending and researching and obsessing over rod tapers, bullet trajectories, and anti-corrosion finishes is a facade. Maybe what we really want..what we really need isn’t more quality stuff. It’s more quality time.
One more hunt in the field with dad.
One more drizzly day fishing under a bridge with your daughter.
One more camping trip where nobody ever goes to sleep because of armadillos rooting around your tent like grizzly bears.
One more time carrying your boy piggyback across a backwater slough in the predawn to get to that perfect duck hunting spot.
Yeah. I like quality stuff.