GRAND RAPIDS — Ed. Note: This column was published in the Herald-Review on May 9, 1996. As you can see, I wasn’t a good outdoorsman even when I was trying hard....sigh...

In baseball, the phrase “wearing the tools of ignorance” signifies a catcher complete with all the protective gear.

I have a phrase that I use for the recreational sports I sometimes compete in, such as fishing, hunting and golfing. I call my equipment for those sports the “tools of futility.”

One of the pieces of equipment, my deer rifle, has been put away for another year without much use or expertise shown by its owner. It survived another year without having a notch imprinted in the stock to show another deer having been bagged. In fact, it is waiting for its first notch after more than 20 years of use. But enough of that. Deer hunting is in November and there is still the summer and fall months ahead before it is dusted off again.

My pieces of equipment for this time of year certainly haven’t experienced much success through the years, either. I am proud to say that my fishing rod and reel scored the first fish of last year’s opener when I pulled in a northern that weighed about half a pound. Back into the water it went, but I couldn’t help but feel excited about the coming fishing season. As it turned out, that was to be the only fish to be caught on that rod and reel for the rest of the year. It wasn’t due to incompetence, although there may be a case that my fishing abilities could be classified as that. It was because I didn’t go fishing for the rest of the year. I can still hear my old Army buddies saying, “Gee, here he is, living in the heartland of outdoor sports in northern Minnesota, and he barely knows how to tie his lure to his line. What a waste of life.”

Of course, my most despised summer equipment are my golf clubs. Instead of cleaning off the clubs for the summer, I should sharpen them. Since some of my divots travel farther than my shots, the extra hang time for the divots that could result from my sharpened clubs may astound my golfing partners. While they may not be impressed with my golfing, at least they can be impressed by my divot size and distance.

Everybody says “practice makes perfect” and that all it takes is the time to get out and get better. While this may be true in most cases, I have a feeling that it wouldn’t work for me.

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