Playing the Field

Specialization is often seen as the logical and desirable end to a particular career or field of study. In medicine, specialists demand the highest salaries and greatest respect. In business, subject matter experts are valued and sought out to troubleshoot specific business problems. Even baseball has specialists; relief pitchers, designated hitters, and pinch runners.

The specialist  mentality pervades in the outdoors as well. I get 5 or 6 “specialty” catalogs from Cabelas every time the seasons change. Websites, magazines, guides, etc. abound that specialize in various methods of take or type of wildlife.

As a boy, we had hunting clothes. They were the same clothes regardless of whether we were hunting rabbits or pheasants. Now we need a different camo pattern for every place we hunt, in both warm and cold weather weights. And one additional pattern in case there is snow. Plus rain gear. We need that too.

What about those old camo patterns in the closet (remember treebark camo?) Last year’s patterns? No, those will never do. Apparently the ducks, deer, etc have evolving senses that require a complete camo makeover each year. It should also be noted that in hunting camps it is a major faux pas to show up to a duck hunt wearing Mossy Oak camo – you gotta wear Max4D or Shadow Grass. Seriously.

Now all this specialization is OK, and full disclosure,  I partake in some of it myself. But I wonder if we aren’t missing a lot of fun by specializing so much? Should  our goal should really be to become a well-rounded outdoorsman or woman rather than a specialist?

When is the last time you tried a new outdoor pursuit? Are you a die- hard waterfowler? How about learning how to gig frogs this year?

A “bowhunt only” deer hunter? Try predator hunting this year!

Are you a dry fly trout purist? See if you can catch a carp this season – or chase a white bass run in the spring. Heck get an old cane pole and a can of worms and catch a mess of panfish with a kid.

You might think it is beneath you – how sad if that were true! Here is a challenge – go out and have some fun doing something new…or something old that you haven’t done in a long time. Smile, laugh, and revive some old memories – or make some new ones. It’s supposed to be fun folks. Play the field.


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