Hunting season must be just around the corner.
Opening my mailbox these days has turned into a dangerous business. While most of us are inundated with back-to-school sales, the mailman endlessly taunts me with stack after stack of hunting catalogs. Without self-control, we could go broke with a couple clicks of a mouse.
This is a dangerous time of the year to be a sportsman. But it's not a physical threat we need to steer clear of. It's a financial hazard that's out to get us. Open your mailbox, flip through your favorite magazine or turn on the television and it won't take long for you to realize exactly what I mean. There are all sorts of folks looking to separate you from your money, especially if you are a gear junkie.
But anytime I get the urge to replace last year's must-have gadgetry with the latest and greatest gear, I remember a vital lesson I learned while guiding in Alaska's remote Tongass National Forest. Out there, we were 50 miles from the nearest tackle shop and their catchy marketing.
We often used what gear and tackle we could find on the dusty shelves of the lodge's tackle room. Some of it was at least a decade old. And despite what the catalogs and commercials want us to believe it worked.
We kept it simple and we caught a lot of big fish. It proved that old-fashioned hard work, scouting and sound tactics are what really count.
Often the gear we used should have been tossed aside. We were forced to fix our rods, sharpen our old hooks and repaint our jigs. We didn't have fancy custom rods. Often we didn't even have a depth finder on our boats. It was the ultimate case of "keeping it simple." But it worked. And it worked well.
There are plenty of similar stories in the hunting world. Leg work often pays off more than a bill for the year's latest gadgetry. So instead of spending four hours shopping for the hottest high-tech tree stand and dumping a week's pay on it, spend that time in the woods scouting and learning the daily patterns of the game you're after.
Instead of shelling out a month's salary for a new gun, hit the range and see just how accurate pap's old gun can be. Not only will it save you a pile of cash, you'll have a much better experience this season.
Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with a few "luxury" items here and there. After all, you need to play with something in the man cave. But don't think any of it is absolutely necessary.
Now, more than ever, sportsmen are backing away from our pastime because of the so-called expense of it all. They believe that without the latest and greatest accessories, they have no chance of success. Despite the marketing, that idea is far from the truth.
Keep it simple. Keep it affordable. And, most importantly, keep it enjoyable.
Andy Snyder writes about the outdoors for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.