Fishing, shooting sports are thriving this year
While sitting atop the mower and whacking down grass,I like to listen to a podcast or something. This past week I was listening to the Meateater Podcast with Steve Rinella and his merry bunch of buddies.
They quickly mentioned that fishing license sales in the state of Michigan were up significantly. I didn’t have a notebook to make a note and wasn’t stopping the mowing to put it into the phone, but let’s just say it’s close to a 50 percent increase.
This might explain finding Coxey’s Army at more than one boat launch a couple weeks ago on Sunday evening — a phenomenon that others are telling me is pretty much covering every night of the week at boat landings as well.
One of my buddies told me that he drove by Lake Wissota last weekend, and the island fit the perfect definition of the Red Neck Yacht Club.
And the phenomena continued as we pulled into a little sporting clays range just south of Neillsville last weekend. The parking lot was over half full which, for White Oaks Sporting Clays, isn’t the norm this time of year. It’s one of the reasons we like it so much. It’s open on weekends, close to everyone that might shoot, and rustic enough to keep the less woodsy of us away. You might need to use a bit more bug spray, but there is a lot less waiting in line for stations to shoot then other places a lot farther away. There isn’t an air conditioned clubhouse with a full bar there either — just a roofed pavilion with some lawn chairs and a fire ring.
The only drawback of not having the fancy air-conditioned bar is maybe when someone you’re shooting with shoots a perfect score to show off. Traditionally, they buy the squad a round of drinks after the shooting. You can’t get into the showoffs pocket for a double of Macallam’s 25 year old scotch if there ain’t no fancy bar. But, then again, in the history of White Oaks, there has only been one perfect score shot on the range.
The first time that happened, the guy’s partner ordered the scotch first and it proceeded down the line. He grudgingly ordered himself a double and muttered something about he could have maybe taken the wife out to the Pfister for lobster and an off Broadway traveling show for less. His partner replied “quit your bitchin,’ you could be at the Pfister getting ready to head to a show. Instead, you’re here sipping the perfect taste of perfection for a perfect round.” The show-off laughed, raised his glass and said “win, win!” Our consensus on why the fishing and shooting is so busy lately is that there isn’t much people can do right now. They are going back to the basics, their roots. They don’t have the festivals, fairs, and sports shows. A lot of bar leagues and youth sports are cancelled. 5K/10K run/walks are cancelled. People are going back to fishing, camping, shooting sports, etc. It’s not a bad thing. It’s healthy, it’s exercise, it’s outside, you can social distance and still enjoy a conversation with someone if you choose. Leagues and tournaments always draw shooters. But we are talking open shooting.
It is kind of like open shooting at the club on Monday evenings for skeet; you just show up and shoot some birds. Enjoy being outside and put the troubles aside for a couple of hours. The cost is only $5 per round. I heard someone say that trap shooting some place is a dollar less. Well, holy smokes, there are two throwers and two houses to maintain with skeet. Break down and get one less strawberry mocha latte a month and you save enough money to cover the extra dollar per round for a month.
And if you’re around when someone shoots a perfect score, they’ll probably buy you a Busch Lite after the shooting. Hey, there isn’t no fancy air-conditioned clubhouse with a full bar, and you can’t even buy 25 year old Macllam in our area.
Shooting starts around 5 p.m. No one is an expert, but they’ll get you breaking a few clays. Just bring your shotgun and humility — we do, along with a sense of humor.
Shooting sports — both clay targets and archery — are the fastest growing scholastic sports right now. And, like fishing, it’s something that grandparents can do with the grandkids.
And there is always something so satisfying watching a clay bird break to your shot. Get out, shoot, fish, live well.
CHUCK K OLAR LOCAL OUTDOORSMAN