Diary of an Outdoor Writer Virgin

About the author

Don Barone

Don Barone

db has been in the reporting biz for over 30 years, won some Emmys and other awards, but is proudest of his four-decade marriage, his two kids and the fact he founded Tackle The Storm Foundation to help children.

A 4-foot tall official of the United States government is in the front of the room talking.

I'm trying to keep the mashed potatoes from running into my chain hotel chicken lunch.

At least I think it's chicken.

The fish and animal fed-lady was talking while I was trying to eat my fish or animal.

For some reason a couple of state government fish and animal commishes got up and spoke before they let the US of A speak. New England is like that, and after each state person spoke about what they are doing with or to the animals wandering around inside their borders, all the people in the room clapped.

Except me.

I never clap when the government says anything. If you clap, the government thinks you're happy, and then they just keep on doing the things that piss you off. So I decided long ago to not try and confuse them anymore.

So I just kept eating. That is until the 4-foot-fed said this: "You have all heard of White Nose Syndrome."

I stopped eating about that time, and when I turned around I could see that the top of the head of the four-foot-fed was pointed in my direction, and everyone was nodding but me.

The VERY last thing I would ever admit to knowing about to any fed over 3-feet tall was anything to do with "White Nose Syndrome."

I'm thinking, "Poppies growing in field." Everyone else was thinking, "Bats dying in caves." You ever get that feeling like you don't belong?

I am an outdoor writer without a cowboy hat. My suit vest has no loops for bullets. Nothing in my closet goes with hunter orange. My Hawaiian shirts don't have epaulets.

And yet, for some reason the New England Outdoor Writers Association voted me in.

If you have a club/group/organization/association and you let me in it, whatever happens next is your own fault.

I don't belong well. I won't do as you say or do as you do.

Canada gave me bacon and eggs so I would go fish there.

I won't.

If you have to give me something for me to believe you, I don't. I did believe Mike — an outdoor columnist whose bottom teeth moved when he talked — but his words hung true when they came out.

Mike's quiet nod about deer hunting was a paragraph of knowledge.

The Rhode Island commish of the outdoors wore a cowboy hat to the meeting. That doesn't make me think he knows more about the fish and wildlife in Rhode Island. It only makes me think he's never been to "The Breakers."

If your background is the "Great Gatsby," and not "John Wayne," lose the 10-gallon and wear a Red Sox ball cap like the rest of us.

Up until Saturday I had never been face to face with an outdoor writer, I know people who write while being outside, but that's usually so they don't forget stuff before they get back to the news delivering place.

When I sent in my 25 bucks so I could go to the free breakfasts and lunches put on by "hosts" who own something to do with the outside and would, I assume, prefer I write about just their outside, this is the response I got back:

"Great, we're dying to meet you."

I took that to mean, "We've read your stuff, and we are going to kill you and leave you in our outside where no one will ever find you."

People who own compasses scare me.

My writing stuff is not like their writing stuff. I'm new to the outside. They are not. I don't know how you're supposed to do this outdoor writing thing. They've been doing it for decades. At age 55, I'm one of the younger ones in here. That alone is worth the dues. These are the pioneers.

I'm the arrow.

These other outdoor writers LOVE to hunt or fish, I could hear it in their tales, and writing about it helps them do just that. I love to WRITE about those who hunt and fish. For me, the story is the game.

Outdoor writing is what happens inside you when you are out there.

Catching a fish is catching a fish. But when your fishing buddy falls out of the boat doing it, now that's a story. I'm an outdoor writer that writes about your father putting his arm across your shoulder, what you saw in the campfire smoke — the legend, not the hunt.

When fish read, I will write about them. When the deer e-mail me, I will write about them.

Until then I will write about those who love the outside and the stories held within.

But I won't dress the part.

Or do as others have done.

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