Earlier this year, during a really slow day for Spokane sports talk radio, I received an invitation from the Dennis Patchin Show to come on the airwaves and explain why the newspaper allows an outdoors column to take up valuable space in the Sports section.
Primarily, I explained, I’m here to give those readers who own rifles and shotguns a bit of relief from John Blanchette’s Cougar coverage each week so we don’t tip them over the edge.
When you think about it, though, outdoors coverage has a lot in common with mainstream sports. I write about cougars, too. It’s just that the outdoors angle has a sharper edge.
Blanchette has to endure Cougars when they get to be a headache.
The outdoorsman gets to go out and eliminate the problem.
And skin it and eat it, too.
If you want to get technical, the term sport originated in the world of hunting and fishing. The English aristocracy enjoyed sports such as fox hunting and shotgunning for partridge. The commoners played the games.
The intrusion of gamers into the world of sportsmen has been a source of confusion if not irritation for those of use who’d rather participate in sports rather than sit in the audience at games.
Blanchette and the rest of his sportswriting ilk regularly plunder the world of outdoors sports. For example:
•You may recently have read that “Brian McCann hit a long shot over the right field fence.” I beg your pardon. Shot is what you do with a rifle, not a bat.
•The Bears were grinding out yardage on the ground. Grinding is what I do with the bear meat I pack out of the mountains.
•Fishermen created the first nets, not the NBA.
•A cricket makes good bait.
•Foul is spelled fowl in the sporting world, and it’s delicious.
•Flagrant fowl is a term used to describe the geese that graze with impunity on the fairways of the Creek at Qualchan Golf Course in October and wag their tails at passing waterfowlers.
•Charging is more costly than a turnover when it’s referring to a grizzly, cow moose or the farmer’s bull.
• Long before wings were hockey players, they were used by pheasants to fly away from hunters.
•Body check is what sportsmen do after spring fly fishing in tick country.
•Deking has nothing to do with pucks in the sporting world. It’s what we do to bag ducks.
•A hat trick is something a bowhunter might do on the end of a stick to lure in a curious antelope.
•Icing is what happens to the guides on your fishing rod late in the steelhead season.
•A grand slam is more than a trot around the bases for a sportsman who bags all four North American bighorn species.
•Shuttle cock — the original ones had real feathers and were often smacked with birdshot before they met the racket.
•A hook might get you a little better roll on the fairway, but it will land you a big fish, too.
•Long before the three-point line was introduced, outside shooting was where I could be found as a kid after a got my first .22.
Technological advances and the Internet have muddied the intermingling of games and the sporting world. An outdoor writer who executes a Google search on legitimate outdoor subjects has to wade through Web sites for teams such as the Bruins, Ducks and Coyotes.
The Colorado Avalanche come up in searches for winter disasters, perhaps legitimately.
When you think about it, the Inland Northwest is in the major leagues of sports such as hunting, fishing, hiking and climbing while it’s the bush leagues of football, baseball and other games.
Seems like question should have been: Why is the Dennis Patchin Show taking up valuable air time that could be used for informing the public on where to hunt and fish?
Sink or swim: Waterfowl hunting seasons open this weekend. Along with the shotgun, shot shells and the dog, each waterfowler heading out in a boat also should have a life jacket aboard.
And you should be wearing it.
The U.S. Coast Guard reports that one-third of all boating accident fatality victims are waterfowl hunters or anglers. Without a PFD, a waterfowler wearing hip waders and bulky camouflage clothing loaded with heavy shot shells is a sitting duck for a drowning.