By Josh Gowan
The outdoors means a lot of different things to different people.
It may be as simple as sitting in the backyard watching squirrels gnaw on a strategically placed piece of corn, or tromping through the woods with extreme stealth in an attempt to sneak within range of identical but but exceptionally more elusive squirrels and squeeze off a shot through the branches.
The outdoors is my life. It is not the only place I feel at home, but it is easily my favorite place to feel at home. The warm sunshine and calm waters are easy to love, and I do, but it’s all the alternative scenarios that only avid outdoorsmen get to witness that are really awe-inspiring to me.
I’ve often said that there is no greater misery a person can put themselves through than duck hunting. The hunting is at its best when the weather is at its worst. I have personally been in a small john boat with nothing more than a trolling motor and a few paddles trying to break ice at 4am so that the ducks would have someplace to land, only to climb out of the boat and into the water that may or may not be over my waders in order to use said boat as a battering ram on the ice.
That my friends, would constitute as crazy in many social circles. However, being in a pit, eye-level with the water as first light breaks over a few hundred decoys, with the cloudy skies dotted by ducks and geese circling above, is just an amazing sight to behold.
Another such view that is etched in mind is from a metal perch 15 feet up in a tree in sub-zero weather, with snow covering the ground, motionlessly watching every animal in the woods searching for food and attempting to court the opposite sex.
Deer in particular, zigzagging all over the forest floor, grunting and strutting, attempting to appear dominant over their counterparts so as to gain the interest of a hot doe.
Anytime on a boat, so long as it isn’t sinking, is a good time for me. There is no mistaking the beauty of calm sunny days in my favorite northwest Tennessee swamp, with the tall grass, vast lily pad flats, and ancient cypress trees providing a picturesque backdrop that any photographer would be happy to witness. Maybe spending so much time in that exact locale has rendered it less exotic to me than most, but a few other panoramic views from the comfort of a fishing boat stand out a bit more.
This past year on Kentucky Lake, the fog laid so heavily on the morning water that visibility was less than 20 feet. Easing out of the marina, keeping one eye on the water and the other on my Humminbird’s GPS, a ghostly sight appeared in front of me.
The old bridge going across that part of the lake was mostly gone, but a couple lengths of road were just above the water’s surface, complete with partial railings and a few birds, it provided a very eerie sight.
Another one of my favorite bodies of water, Lake Washington in southern Mississippi, hosts more than a few of my favorite sights. Growing up around cypress trees, I’m rather used to their beauty, but the first time I fished under a cypress adorned with thick Spanish moss, well, it’s just creepily cool!
Another sight I was able to witness down south, I didn’t enjoy at the time, but looking back it made for a unique visual. Chippy and I were caught in a pop-up storm that dropped marble sized hail at an unbelievable rate for about 5 minutes.
The water splashed so hard it appeared to be raining up, and we might have thought so if it wasn’t for clearly getting pelted from above!
Regardless of the extent of your interactions with nature, there are mental snapshots abound that will stick with you forever.
However, step a little further outside of your comfort zone and change the scenario, and there’s just no telling what you might see.