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BRIAN JOHNSON ON OUTDOORS: Expectation vs. reality

If you are like most outdoorsmen then you probably like to watch hunting and fishing shows.

There are several things that happen during the 30 minutes of the television show. Right off the bat there will be around 10 minutes of commercials. So this leaves 20 minutes to cram in what would be the equivalent of a hunting or fishing trip of a lifetime for most of us.

Here is a typical storyline for most of the shows that I have seen:

When the show begins, you will usually see the sportsmen traveling to their destination until they arrive at a beautiful lodge. Many of these hunting lodges cost more than my house and are absolutely amazing. Once the gear has been unloaded, they have a chef preparing the meals or maybe they sit down and eat a meal that has been prepared in advance.

They will eat a meal fit for a king. Shrimp, steak, steamed vegetables, maybe some fried comfort food … whatever it is that they are eating, be sure it will make your mouth water.

The next morning they are driven to their blinds or head out on the water and almost instantly begin to catch fish or see deer. The elk seem to bugle right away and the ducks always fly in big groups and come right in range. Sometimes they will act as if the action is a little slow and they move to an area that is even better.

The deer hunter rattles horns together and a trophy buck or two will saunter into range and he will be killed. Duck straps will be quickly filled with green heads and pintails, most of the bass will be over 5 pounds and the elk will be the size that appear in my dreams.

Pictures will be taken and they might even say a little prayer giving thanks for their harvest. Due to time restrictions on the air, they immediately appear at the camp all cleaned up, sitting in a rocking chair drinking a sweet tea. As they rock the rest of the day away, they go over the highlights of the hunt and tell you about all of the great products that they used to help them get the job done.

This picture of outdoor adventures is not much like my reality. In fact I find that my trips are way different. Mine go like this:

My alarm goes off in the wee hours of the morning and it is all I can do to make myself get out of bed. There is no hunting lodge because most of my hunting takes place to home.

I find it harder and harder to take the time to go on far away trips so I mostly hunt local. Once I get up, I hear my hunting buddies slamming their truck doors and we meet in the man cave to load into one vehicle.

On our fishing trip, we hook up to the boat, throw in our gear and head to the lake. Once at the boat ramp we notice that we had a wheel bearing go out but we are thankful that the trailer is a tandem so we launch the boat and go fishing.

It’s been months since we last fished but we have a “hot report” so we know exactly where to go and what to do. We tell stories, share a few laughs, and enjoy each other’s company. Instead of a fancy meal, we split a bag of peanuts.

We get a few bites but don’t catch a single fish. By 10:30 a.m. we give up and load the boat on the three-wheeled trailer and limp it back home. When we deer hunt, we are hoping to simply see a deer if we are hunting in east Texas. If we do see one and he passes all of the antler restrictions, we shoot him.

Everyone rejoices together as we drag our trophy out of the woods. He is usually far smaller than the ones shot on television, but we are happy none the less. When duck hunting we don’t often shoot greenheads. We often settle for ringnecks and spoonbills in order to not go home empty handed. Our number one most appreciated product is a can of off because without it the mosquitoes would have carried us off. We get stuck in the mud and even have boat motor problems from time to time.

All in all our trips don’t look like the ones on television. Even when we kill the big or catch a great string, it seems like there was a lot more effort involved.

The truth is that these shows don’t depict reality. If you think that every trip will turn out like it does on TV, you will be disappointed.

Through the years, I have learned that it is more about the journey. Enjoy the trip and don’t focus on the harvest. The real trophies in my hunting pictures aren’t the ones I’m holding, but the ones I’m standing with. I have been blessed to spend time in the outdoors making great friendship with some great people. For this, I am so thankful.

Brian Johnson, originally of Port Neches, is pastor of First Baptist Church of Winnie, owner of DuckDogTrainer.com and outdoors writer for The News.