Not many other outdoor activity members can boast about how well they've played the game of big and heavy.
The anglers and hunters who play dress-up and go out into the wilderness to prove their manhood is something akin to an African warrior's blood rituals following a hunt for food to feed the village.
Contact information ( * required )
I also have been guilty of wrapping myself in the colors of success every time I hold up a jumbo bass or tarpon. I embraced the same code of the wild when I loosed an arrow into an unsuspecting whitetail buck.
I finished a day's dove hunt in Mexican cactus country and didn't waste time recapturing the moments over cocktails and appetizers. The testosterone flowed like fast water in a Colorado trout stream.
I felt a sense of achievement when I chirped and clucked the right musical notes on the turkey call during the annual spring mating season. An enamored male came running in to see what the commotion was about and wound up pouncing on the hen decoy like it was the end of the world and time was of the essence. At that moment, I believed I was the master of the forest, especially when my 12-gauge barked once, signaling the final act of this play.
Spence Petros revels in the fact that he knows where and when to tempt giant muskies to go for a mouthful of super-sharp hooks and subsequently become part of the focal point of a Kodak moment. Petros knows his stuff like few others, but it's usually the length and weight of his encounters that make or break an outing.
But I am an unusual sort, in that even though I've held up lots of big fish, and even though I shared the frame with a very large Tom turkey, I now find myself wondering why is the weight and size of the catch so important?
I can understand television outdoorsman and outspoken conservative frontman Ted Nugent's desire to put wild game chops and steaks on his family's dinner table. He makes no excuses for his zeal to eat unprocessed meat, while openly stating that the bounty from the field and forest is a healthier menu.
And to be honest, I also believe there is nothing wrong with an angler searching for the heaviest bass, or a hunter looking for the biggest white tail rack. It's just after more than 46 years of chronicling fishing and hunting activities and individuals, I now ask myself if the fighting action of a smaller, scrappy bluegill is worth less in the eye of the angler than stumbling into 10- and 11-inchers, and beyond?
Some deer hunters have told me they decided to hunt for the table instead of the "trophy wall," while others will feed their hunger for a heavy-bodied deer stacked with a huge rack of antlers.
I'm not against that, nor do I object to those anglers and hunters obsessed with their climb up the bragging heap.
The Florida Keys, especially the southern Keys flats, are home to some large bonefish. This species is super-wary and the trick is to sneak up on them, be it in a boat or gently wading the flats areas. Some hit the 10-pound mark, but those are not the ones I seek.
During one particular afternoon some years ago I discovered a school of smaller bones in about 3 feet of water. On just about every fifth or sixth cast I hooked a bonefish with one of my own hand-tied, crab-imitating flies. The fish ran about 2-3 pounds, and I was thrilled for the action instead of mourning the loss of the jumbos that scurried away when shadows scared the scales off their bodies.
The smaller cousins provided enough thrills to last a lifetime. As far as I was concerned, that was a day of fly rod "trophies" I'll never forget.
•Contact Mike Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org, and catch his radio show 6-7 a.m. Sundays on WSBC 1240-AM and live-streamed at www.mikejacksonoutdoors.com.