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ON OUTDOORS: Enjoying the great outdoors

It was one of those conversations I wish I had not started.

A dedicated bowhunter I knew owned a ranch in South Texas and had it intensely managed for trophy-sized whitetails.

I would see him at an annual event and he would always share photos of big bucks taken with his bow.

“How was your season,” I asked.

“Terrible. Just terrible,” he replied.

It was hard for me to imagine this guy having a terrible season. He would easily see more deer on one sitting at his ranch than most East Texas hunters do in an entire season.

My goal was to kill a 150-class buck,” he said.

That is terminology based around the Boone & Crockett scoring systems which ranks bucks by a systemized series of antler measurements factoring in length, girth and spread. A 150 is bigger than most hunters ever kill. By far.

“I shot this buck and I just knew he would make 150 but no matter how many times I measured it kept coming up 148. Really made me mad.”

So this guy was upset because this deer he assumed made the magical (in his own mind) 150 mark but missed it by two inches of antler.

Give me a break!

I use this extreme illustration to make the point that enjoyment of the outdoors is not the sole ownership of the rich, privileged and connected. This guy was all of the above and I had more fun shooting a spike buck near Deweyville that year than he did killing a buck bigger than any I have ever shot.

The mindset you take with you in the woods and on the water makes a huge difference and besides the fact ranking a deer only by a scoring system is just plain stupid, such ultra high expectations perpetuated by social media and outdoors television devalue the actual animals.

I am an extremely goal-minded person but I thankfully have never let that creep into my outdoors adventures to such a degree I get disappointed if I don’t hit some mark.

To encounter a beautiful, regal, elusive buck or catch that ultra hard to find 10-pound bass is the stuff outdoors dreams are made of. They are the figurative mountains we seek to climb. The Mount Everest of hunting and fishing.

But if you haven’t quite reached the summit it does not mean there are not reasons to celebrate. Every time we hit the woods should be a time of rejoicing. Anything could happen. And every wildlife encounter is important.

Maybe you are like several hunters I know who could not afford a deer lease the last couple of years but have taken up hunting in the national forests. I salute you. There are some nice deer killed there and you are not letting the circumstances destroy tradition.

Maybe you are like me and you do not have a boat. Me and my wife Lisa like to live under our means and we decided after getting rid of our last aluminum boat to forego a boat altogether. That means I am officially a bank fisherman now.

And guess what? I still enjoy it.

We have plenty of places to catch catfish and redfish and I deeply enjoy fishing for bass on friends’ ponds.

If we raise up our children and grandchildren thinking the only worthwhile deer to hunt are record book-sized or the only trout that counts is that nearly nonexistent 30 plus incher, then we have failed them.

Owning a state of the art bass boat or hunting a South Texas lease is a luxury, a true blessing for anyone who can. And there are many wonderful local outdoors lovers who cherish those blessings.

But the tools we use and the real estate we hunt do not dictate our enjoy. That is a state of mind we control.

Will we be like the guy who was literally miserable because he “only” shot a 148 class buck-with his bow mind you?

Or will be enter the woods like we did as a child thankful for any opportunity that presents itself.

Don’t let the popular media outdoors culture ruin the connection the woods and waters should give you with your childhood.

Enjoy being a kid every time you sit in the duck blind, climb up that tree stand or launch onto Sabine Lake.

After all, shooting a legal buck in the national forest is harder than shooting a 150 class in most of SouthTexas. Catching a four pound bass in Adams Bayou is like catching a 13 on Lake Fork (I call 4 pounders “Adams Bayou Sharelunkers) and big reds, specks and flounder can be caught whether you fish from the bank or own a boat dealership.

Whatever you can afford to do outdoors, be resolute to enjoy it and then do your best to share with others. The economy can’t hold you down in the great outdoors if you think positive and appreciate every chance to step beyond the pavement.

(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at chester@kingdomzoo.com. You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI.)