Many sportsmen consider themselves to be “outdoorsmen” but are they really? Or are they better described as “outdoor enthusiasts”?
The term “outdoorsman” has different reading to different people. The Webster dictionary for example offers the following definition:
Outdoorsman – one who spends much time in the outdoors or in outdoor activities.
I, however, prefer to think of an outdoorsman as someone who not only enjoys outdoor activities but possesses the skills necessary to excel in those activities. The guy at deer camp others turn to for advice on setting up a stand, tuning a new bow, etc. This is how I see a true outdoorsman.
So what are the skills you should develop to make the jump from enthusiast to outdoorsman? This is a list which could be as long and varied as the number of people you ask. But over the years, through season after season of dealing with sportsmen of all kinds I have come up with my personal list. These are the skill I find sportsmen benefit from the most and those I hope I can continue to develop season after season.
- Tracking – for most sportsmen tracking means simply finding their wild game after it has been shot. True tracking involves seeing the entire picture. Where are different animals traveling, eating and bedding? Have other hunters been in the woods recently? If so, where did they go & what did they do?
- Forecasting – weather pays a vital role in your potential success afield. Checking the online forecast is a starting point, but being able to read the weather while on your stand allows you to adjust as needed in real time.
- Knife Sharpening – ever true sportsman I have ever met not only carries at least one knife but also keeps it ready to do what needs to be done. Not only can a dull knife interfere with your ability to complete the task at hand it can also be dangerous – nothing slips unexpectedly like a rounded edge.
- Marlinspike – this is more than a fancy name for knot tying; it is the ability to use line for more than simply dragging your deer. Can you fashion a simply pulley system needed to drag a carcass out of a ravine? Do you know how to lash three poles into a game hoist for cleaning? If not you might want to break out your old Boy Scout manuals.
- Plant Identification – an enthusiast is lucky if they can identify poison ivy before spending the weekend itching and scratching. For an outdoorsman “leaves of three, let it be” is a children’s rhyme; he can tell you where to find a natural food plot deer are going to being circling or tell you which berries might make a suitable afternoon snack or a natural insect repellant.
So, how do your skills stack up? Are you prepared to spend a weekend in the woods or will you be booking a room at the Motel 6?