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Alan Liere: The aging outdoorsman

I’ve been trying to figure out if I’m old.

Friends say that I am – it first became apparent two years ago at a Loon Lake picnic when I had a choice of a double-fudge brownie or broccoli salad. I chose the salad.

Perhaps the process began even before that at a seafood restaurant in Westport, Washington when, after a long, delightful day of salmon fishing, I passed on the pan-fried oysters – which make me frisky – and ordered the eggplant, which makes me regular.

I think my decline may have began a couple of years earlier when I decided I would never again attempt to hunt chukars on the Snake River Breaks – a sad day in my life, as hunting chukars had always been a favorite outdoor pursuit.

Even my choice reading material lately suggests I am old.

At one time not so long ago, I was a sucker for any outdoor magazine article about big exotic fish or African game. Now, I prefer outdoor stories about more sedentary adventures closer to home like perch fishing or dove hunting.

Sometimes I even settle down with articles about healthy eating. I like to peruse cookbooks with recipes for preparing fish and game as much as I like to read articles about pursuing it.

I haven’t been dancing for eight years. I used to be an excellent dancer, but in retrospect, I participated only because dancing was a good way to meet ladies. I met my now-deceased wife Marie at a dance.

After we were married, she said a night out dancing now and then kept the romance alive. That was true, but when it began to promote only blisters and muscle spasms I gave it up.

Marie and I hunted nightcrawlers on the front lawn after a night of dancing one time and I had never felt more alive or in love. No blisters, either.

I never was much of a fashion plate, but my hunting and fishing apparel has begun to reflect a distinct “whatever” attitude. I used to try to at least keep my outfits coordinated – which is to say I wouldn’t wear a cowboy hat with a Hawaiian shirt.

Now, comfort has replaced style in all my apparel and the only thing I insist fit me well are my hunting boots. I used to despise baseball caps, but with a baseball cap my bald head doesn’t sunburn and I can let the world know I am a fan of Ithaca shotguns – it says so right on the front.

Secretly, I am hoping there are people who are offended by the fact I have a shotgun logo on my cap.

The years have made me more tolerant of my own kids – but less tolerant of the kids of others. It has also made me unreasonably opinionated and politically incorrect.

I despise hunting and fishing shows that see wildlife and fish as a money-making commodity rather than a cherished natural resource. I think that Middle Eastern countries have an excellent solution for drug crimes. I sincerely believe some people have no good in them whatsoever, and that for them, a chain gang makes more sense than love, religion, or rehabilitation.

I guess that, like life, aging comes one step at a time – and I have taken many steps. If it is true that “you are only as old as you feel,” today I am 97. Yesterday, however, I was only 57 and tomorrow I may be 35.

And if I am I’m going chukar hunting.