When they first hopped aboard, I was excited to have the television crew along for a day of fishing.
It's every charter-boat captain's dream to have his expertise and his boat permanently captured on film. But then the cameras started to roll and my day turned into anything but normal.
"We just need to catch two fish," the host told me. "One to introduce the show with and one to make the fishing look real."
Real? The only thing real about that day was the heaving seas and the producer's difficulty in holding down his lunch. The taping solidified an idea I've toyed with but was too stubborn to admit. All of these hunting and fishing shows are doing more harm to our sport than good.
Sure, a non-stop marathon of casting and blasting is a great way to "get outdoors" when you're stuck waiting for the mother-in-law to get out of the bathroom. And I will admit the shows have helped bring attention to our conservation efforts.
But what about the commercialization of what once were "everyman" sports? For many sportsmen these days, having the same gun and the same camo pattern as the celebrity hunters is just as important as a teenager having the same shade of tan that Snookie made synonymous with the Jersey Shore.
I don't like to see a day on the water turn into a fashion statement. I also don't like it when I run into anglers who think fishing should be as effortless and as productive as what we see during a 21-minute show. It's not. It's not even comparable.
The camera crew that came aboard didn't care about the late nights spent spooling a dozen deep-water reels. Or the chase to find a bait shop with exactly what I needed. Or the growing valve tap in the port engine that was bound to turn into a costly overhaul.
Nope, they didn't care what the sport was truly about. The crew just wanted a handful of grip-and-grin shots so it could weave together an episode that was better than the last. That's what has me worried.
So many so-called sportsmen turn on their 24-hour feed of outdoor programming and think that's what the outdoors are about -- killing big animals and looking good doing it. Then when they finally get off the couch and hit the woods, they get frustrated after they waddle to their deer stand and don't get to choose between two monstrous 10-points.
They forget about the thrill of scouting a new territory, the hours of experimenting to find the perfect rig and, most importantly, the feeling of camaraderie and belonging that comes with spending time outdoors with a friend. You can't get that sort of bond in the eight-minute span between beer and truck commercials.
Maybe I'm cynical or just flat out missing the point. It's happened before. But I say the only true way to experience Mother Nature is to get out there and see her in living color.
Andy Snyder writes about the outdoors for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sports@york dispatch.com.