Sportsmen and The Internet

Last weeks article got a few positive responses so here’s the other half of what was originally a very long rant. Again, I would love to know what you all think of it.

I like the internet, well mostly the idea of it actually. I live and work in Alberta, Canada. Thanks to the internet, people anywhere in the world can hear what I have to say, if they so choose. I can also hear them, which is great (but I sometimes wish I couldn’t). Thanks to the internet, I have had conversations with South Africans, Americans, Germans and many many more about what being a hunter and sportsmen is like for them in their country. It’s an amazing thing to think about when you compare it to what life was like 100 years ago. Back then you were lucky to have a pen pal that far away. The internet, and our usage of it, amazes me. Anyone of us can learn almost anything we want on the internet for free. Many universities publish their course materials and there are even free online education sites which means anyone who can get online can get the same (unofficial) education that any university offers. But how many do? I certainly haven’t logged into Khan Academy and learned about finance, history, or grammar (that last one I really should work on). So what do we use the internet for? Besides cat pictures that is. The lighter side is the sharing of ideas and making of friends. The darker side of the internet is that it provides both a voice and anonymity to absolutely anyone and in my experience, for the most part, this has never ended well, especially for those that fall into any minority of any culture or civilization.

The internet is rife with faceless racism, sexism, homophobia and hatred of really anything I can think of. I dare you to find me one thing, anything, that isn’t hated by someone on the internet. This bothers me deeply, I have a hard time dealing with hatred towards anyone. Despite being a straight, white, middle class (ish?) male, literally the most non-minority possible, I have more than once been driven to feeling physically ill from the awful things I have seen displayed on the internet. That is the result of both the best and worst thing on the internet.

No matter who you are and what you do, you can find people like you on the internet. If you have severe social anxiety and a love of muscle cars, there is probably a website full of people like you. On the same coin, if someone hates something they can find it and ridicule it from behind the mask that the internet so easily provides.

I love hunting and as you can tell I like talking about hunting. I’m a member of several social media groups and often converse and offer congratulations to other hunters. I occasionally offer tips, but honestly usually I’m asking for them. At the same time, those who hate hunting have easy access to ridicule and mock those who like hunting. Yes, the block button does exist but that’s more damage control than prevention, and at what point is it infringement on freedom of speech? Also blocking only acts to stop you from seeing what they are saying, not stopping them from saying it about you.

A few quick examples from my experience: When I first started blogging I also started a twitter account, I met many fellow sportsmen and sportswomen from all over the globe. However, I received enough hateful comments, mostly on account of a picture of my bear skin rug that I decided to shut down my account. No matter how much you block it seems there is always someone willing to tell you they hope something bad happens to you and your family. I have a lot of screen shots of the hate mail, but most of them contain the kind of language I don’t want on this website. On my pinterest account I will occasionally post photos from my blog with links to the stories in an attempt at shameless self-promotion. Since then I have seen my photos be “pinned” exclusively to boards titled “evil” or “scum” or anything along those lines. It’s an interesting feeling to know that some people believe you fall into the same social circles as war criminals, murderers, rapists, pedophiles, and dog fighting rings. I’ve never considered myself an evil person. I help stranded people on the highway. I’ve walked back into the story to pay for an item the teller missed scanning. I make point of holding the door for people. To my knowledge the only evil shortcoming I have, according to the internet, is my love of hunting. Am I a bad person? I don’t feel like a bad person. Do bad people FEEL like bad people? I have looked into the science behind conservation and the ethics of hunting an animal and it still adds up as acceptable and reasonable to me. Of course I am likely prone to confirmation bias.

I intend to keep hunting as long as I can, until it be age, fatal accident, or complete outlawing of hunting that prevents me from doing it. Based on my cautious nature, love of adventure, and the way the wind seems to blow in our modern times, all three seem equally likely. It’s just a sad reality for hunters that we are severely outnumbered by people who don’t like hunting or at the very least are indifferent towards it, meaning they aren’t likely to help us stand up for our rights. Reading my old hunting novels and articles it saddens me to see how much ground hunters have lost in regards to rights. Things like countries banning hunting all together and other countries banning import of trophies no matter how legally they were hunted. Oddly I have found sources that claim both of these things have actually increased poaching and decreased animal populations. But I’m sure we could find people claiming the opposite. I do think that at this rate I’m already living a somewhat antiquated lifestyle. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if someday my grandkids show off my old bear skin rug, deer heads, and my old hunting rifle (likely rendered inoperable by law at that point) to their friends as a novelty, much like you would show off old farm and pioneer equipment. Almost in a “can you believe people used to do this” sort of way. I always wanted to be a cowboy, I guess I’ll just have to settle for being a dying breed.

I am a rather small time guy in the blogging world. I have low enough traffic that if you email me your mailing address I’ll send you a thank you card with a letter inside, for real, I’ve got the time. As such the backlash I receive is comparatively small and inconsequential, outside of some hurt feelings and the occasional laugh at creative language, it doesn’t actually change my life. I am, however, often amazed at the infamy and treatment hunters get once their photos get more publicity than usual. It’s often famous hunters called out by famous actors, or organizations but in rare occasions its people with about the same fame as me, who just have the wrong person stumble into a photo of an amazing hunting accomplishment. Next thing you know their face is all over the internet “debating” just how evil they are, followed by death threats and personal attacks as well as attacks on the entire institution of hunters. If its men it’s usually attacks on their masculinity, if its women it’s usually attacks at their physical appearance. Which, if you ask me, shows our societies underlying insecurities and shameful double standards. Is hunting wrong? There is science on both sides and more than enough people to argue it. I don’t know the answer, I just know my opinion and I am happy to keep it. All I know for sure is that it strikes me as unacceptable to talk to each other like this, whether it’s anonymous or not, and I have seen this hatred comes from both sides of the fence. On the plus side, everyone ever attacked by the seemingly singular hive mind of the internet has had their infamy short lived. Look up any old controversial issue or news story, look up those tweets with millions of angry comments, they’re nearly abandoned. People have marched on to the next hot debate, leaving the earth scorched and salted behind them. I’m sure Melissa Bachmann is still having a hard time getting sponsors and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Corey Knowlton was still expending a large portion of his net worth on private security for his young family. Axelle Despiegelaere lost her modelling contract, and likely won’t find a company willing to take the heat for something so controversial. These people’s lives were thrown into a wild tail spin because the internet didn’t like what they do and even after the mob has moved on there’s still a lot to clean up. Keep in mind that these people weren’t breaking the law in any way, shape, or form when they became the subject of public scrutiny.

You’re probably asking yourselves “Where the hell is he going with this?” Honestly I don’t have an answer. Sorry about that. I guess I just felt like sharing my thoughts on globalization making adventure a much rarer thing. Honestly that’s probably for the best considering that more people have access to medicine and the average life span has increased dramatically in most places. I also just wanted to get it out there that I think the internet holds up a mirror that has the capacity to show us the worst part of ourselves and our society. Again, I’ll still vote to keep it because it does do some good and the potential for it is amazing and I know somewhere out there someone is using it for good, even if that’s just self-improvement. Until then I suppose I’ll do my best to stay outside and try to ignore the digital hatred I get for being who and what I am. Sorry to bring everybody down, I’ll try and have an actual story for you soon and I’ll even try to make it funny. Lastly, since you suffered through these two hodgepodge articles mapping my strange thought process, I was serious about that thank you card thing and if you don’t believe me send me your mailing address to TysonGoesOutside@gmail.com


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Globalization and Travel

This post was originally much longer. I split it in two, on Erin’s suggestion, to make it more digestible. If you do or dont like this let me know, so I know if I should post the other, longer, half.  

The internet is on of the most amazing thing humans have created. It has ushered in the kind of globalization no one would have ever thought possible. My great grand parents on both sides of my family came over from Europe around the turn of the century, or earlier. Everything they heard about their destination was likely the result of pamphlets and word of mouth. They traveled thousands of miles over several months in hopes that they hadn’t been mislead or lied to. On my mothers side in particular I remember hearing the story of one of my distant relatives. He was my maternal grandmothers paternal grandfather (my mom’s mom’s dad’s dad). He came here before his wife and children to work and start building a farm. He threw himself out there on faith and hope, his only contact was via the postal service which was slow and unreliable during the home stead days. After two years of setting up a home he was ready for his wife and children to join him. Plans were made to meet at the train station. Unfortunately she missed the train and had no way of telling him she would be on the next one.

He wandered around the station probably in a daze of confusion and fear that I could never begin to comprehend. He saw a woman and children sleeping on a bench. He ran up to them and embraced the woman…who was not his wife. Talk about awkward. He and his wife eventually found each other in the station. My guess is there was something on the passenger list denoting not making it on and a protocol to catch the next one. I imagine it was the longest wait of his life, between the two trains. Upon being reunited, he learned that all three of his children had been taken by influenza. His wife didn’t have the heart to write him with the news. They would later have five more children. The strength and resilience of some people will never cease to amaze me.

I like to think about things like this to help put my life in perspective. How would I have operated in those times? I could go that far via airplane for the weekend if I wanted, and it would barely be a footnote in my life. Does that mean I’m lucky to have such and adventurous life? Or devoid of being able to have a true adventure?  Do I have the kind of strength to leave my family behind and maybe never see them again in hopes that I could build a better life so far away? Could I spend two years away from Erin with only a slow and unreliable postal system as our only means of communication? We almost had a disaster when our phones wouldn’t work while hiking in Jasper I can only imagine trying to orchestrate a round the world trip to meet me at a train station in a land where both of us barely speak the language. Don’t get me wrong, I love globalization I think its great that we can travel nearly anywhere in the world on a whim (yet almost none of us do). When I traveled around New Zealand and Fiji it seemed almost at all times I couldn’t help but think what my great grand parents would think of these places. In their day a trip that far was a once in a life time ordeal. It was long and dangerous. Live or die you likely weren’t coming back, and remember you didn’t have the internet to tell you what to expect when you got there. In a way I am jealous of the kind of adventure a person was able to have back then. Of course that’s kind of looking back through the lens of nostalgia. I’ll take modern medicine and soft toilet paper over dangerous treks through the jungle to find head hunting tribes. But it sure does sound like a hell of a good time, and I often catch myself day dreaming about it when I find myself trapped in a traffic jam on my way to work.

So whats the point of my story here? I guess I dont have one, I was just rambling out my thought process that was sparked by something that got me thinking about technology and globalization. Then I was thinking about a few family members not wanting me to go on a trip I’m planning. It got me thinking about what it must have been like for all those pioneers just before they left the home country for the last time. What would my parents say if I told them I wasn’t coming back? It also got me wondering if all of our globalization and technology has, in a way,  taken all mystery out of the world? There aren’t a lot of blank spaces on the map these days. I know its for the best, but deep down, for selfish reasons, it kinda bothers me that I know I could never have “Explorer” as a career title.


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An Okanagan Wedding and A Yoho Camping Trip

I was cordially invited to be Erin’s plus one at her cousins wedding in Kelowna. Me, not being a fan of work, opted to take an entire week off. Erin did the same so her and I could make the most of our trip. We arrived in Kelowna on Thursday, around dinner time, after making the drive from Edmonton all at once. We enjoyed dinner with Erin’s parents, who had arrived earlier that week. We then promptly went to bed.

The next day, the wedding was scheduled for 4 pm, so in the morning we hiked up Knox Mountain. We got thoroughly lost on the way to the mountain and ended up parking in a nearby suburb and hiking to, then up the mountain. The way up served as a pleasant reminder that I was out of shape. Once at the top we met a nice couple who was kind enough to take our picture for us.

I Crossed Tongariro Without Issue, Now I Struggle Against Knox Mountain.

I Crossed Tongariro Without Issue, Now I Struggle Against Knox Mountain.

 

After Knox Mountain, I was invited to accompany Erin and her family to a few local wineries for tastings. I came along but didn’t taste much, due to my strong disliking of wine. I did however take the opportunity to grab a few bottles of wine for various family members. Come hunting season I may need the brownie points.

Eventually the time came for the wedding. It was an outdoor venue at the golf course, the bride was beautiful, the groom was handsome, and the ceremony was excellent. Then while the wedding party took photos, I somehow found myself at the bar, drinking gin and tonics for the first time since the Yasawas with the singing Aussies. The dinner was delicious, the speeches were heartfelt, the MC made Erin and I, as well as many others, play some silly games as part of the entertainment. I continued to drink gin and tonics as though there was a competition, and I was going for a landslide victory. Eventually the night wound down and the wedding ended and we all shuffled out, content with the events of the evening.

Not My Usual Attire, Especially On This Blog

Not My Usual Attire, Especially On This Blog

We had originally intended to drive to Yoho national park the day after the wedding. We decided, possibly due in part to the bar at the wedding, that we didn’t feel up to making the five hour drive to go camping that day. So we book another night in another hotel and Erin went with her family to a few more wineries. While Erin was doing more tours, I decided to go check out the local museums. As luck would have it. The two museums I wanted to see, The Okanagan Heritage Museum and The Okanagan Military Museum, shared a parking lot. I was impressed by both and highly recommend them. After all that Erin and I spend a little time on the beach and then joined most of the wedding party and family for a small barbecue that evening.

The next day we made the lengthy drive to Yoho. Due to several stops to grab supplies, and some time slowing construction zones, we arrived at our trail head late in the day. We also made a point of stopping at a place called “The Log Barn.” On the way to Kelowna we kept seeing bizarre billboards for the place and when we drove passed we saw a big main building, a few small ones and a lot of strange statues that didn’t appear to have a main theme… So we still had no idea what it was, so we figured we’d better stop in on the way back. After going there and looking around I’m still not entirely sure how to describe it, it is a takeout restaurant/candy shop/gift shop/Mennonite butcher shop/petting zoo/tourist attraction IS the simplest way to put it. Not making sense? OK heres some pictures.

Entrance

Entrance

Still No Theme.

Still No Theme

Found My Retirement Home.

Found My Retirement Home.

The Goats Also Worked A Pulley System To Get Feed Above The Parking Lot.

The Goats Also Worked A Pulley System To Get Feed Above The Parking Lot.

After thoroughly inspecting the establishment and not making much sense of it, we grabbed some food and headed to Yoho. Our plan was pretty simple,  drive to Yoho and hike to our first camp site at Yoho lake, about 4 km in on the first day. The second day make the 11 km hike along the scenic Iceline trail to Little Yoho for our second night. Then on the third and final day make the 10 km hike back to the truck and drive home to Edmonton.

We arrived at the trail head at about 5 PM and packed last minute on the tailgate of my truck. I was rather grumpy at the time because I hate being in a rush, especially for something like back country camping when its getting this close to winter. Luckily Erin’s sunny disposition got us through and onto the trail. The hike was 4 km of what felt like straight up, I sweated and wheezed my way to the top, all the while wondering if maybe a ladder would have been an improvement to the uphill character of the trail. Eventually we made it to the top and set up camp and were able to cook and eat a can of stew just as daytime hid behind the mountains. That night Erin and I slept inside our sleeping bags with a survival rating of -6 Celsius. Keep in mind those ratings are survival ratings and NOT comfort ratings… also they’re usually theoretical. Erin had a sleeping bag liner to help, and had fashioned her buff into a toque for extra warmth, and I had packed a fleece blanket. It hit nearly zero that night and I am prone to tossing and turning, the fleece blanket quickly fell off and I froze. Despite going to bed in fresh dry clothes and being cold all night, when I woke up in the morning I still felt damp and a little miserable, but that’s part of the fun of camping. I got dressed, we made some oatmeal for breakfast, then we packed up and headed out.

Erin Grabbed This Excellent Photo While I Got My Beauty Sleep.

Erin Grabbed This Excellent Photo While I Got My Beauty Sleep.

In the morning mist and shade of the trees, the hike was initially a bit chilly. We gained elevation quite quickly and pretty early in our hike we found ourselves just above the treeline.

Early In The Day, At The Treeline.

Early In The Day, At The Treeline.

As the hike progressed we gained even more elevation and found ourselves walking along the rocky slopes with little to no vegetation in the area. The hike was very scenic, we took a lot of breaks for beef jerky and trail mix, and bumped into a surprising amount of hikers considering the time of year.

Just Above The Treeline And Exhausted.

Just Above The Treeline And Exhausted.

Well Above The Treeline.

Well Above The Treeline.

I Made Good Use Of The Various Glacial Streams Intersecting The Trail.

We Made Good Use Of The Various Glacial Streams Intersecting The Trail.

The trail was long and scenic, it occasionally jutted out to a higher vantage point, most of which I declined to climb due to my crippling fear of heights. Eventually our trail dipped back below the treeline and along the various switchbacks that lead us to a bridge across a wide, shallow, fast moving, gravel bottomed stream near the Alpine Club’s cabin which was only a few hundred yards from our campsite.

Always Bring A Map.

Always Bring A Map.

We found the campsite and I was happy to see we were the only campers there. We set up the tent and made our bed then went off to cook some rice and chicken. I cooked mine first and discovered that the camp stove runs too hot and burns the rice on the bottom of the pot while still leaving the rest of the rice crunchy in the middle. I started to choke it down while Erin cooked hers, she opted to add too much water and make it more of a soup to prevent the burning, she claims it was actually pretty good. I guess looks can be deceiving.  After dinner we sat on the river bank and enjoyed a chocolate bar we smuggled into the food bag. The weather looked like it was about to rain so we retired to the tent to chat and play games on Erin’s phone. Just before dark I decided I better go to the food bags and grab a quick granola bar for a snack before bed. I tucked my pajama pants into my socks, so as not to get mud on them, put my boots on and stepped out of the tent, I wasn’t going far so I didn’t bother to put on my glasses. Ill bet I looked good sweat pants tucked into my socks and squinting at everything, good thing we were alone. While I was Grabbing some snack action out of the food bag I saw a blurry looking man walk into the common area of the campsite, so I shouted a hello to him. He then froze on the spot, looked at me, said nothing, then walked away into the bush… If you’re ever back country camping and want to creep out other campers, just do exactly what that guy did. It was so strange I was wondering if my eyes were just so bad that I imagined a person there. After my snack I went back to the tent and grabbed my glasses before heading to the outhouse. On my way too and from the bathroom I looked around and didn’t see any other tents set up… It was the strangest thing, where did that guy come from… or go?

That night Erin traded me the sleeping bag liner for the fleece blanket, and we both fashioned our buffs into toques. It didn’t get quite as cold the second night and I slept substantially better. Unfortunately when we awoke in the morning it was raining quite steadily. We packed up camp in the rain, Erin dawned her rain gear, and we fashioned me some rain gear out of garbage bags because I have been continually neglecting to buy some. We decided to skip breakfast and eat snacks and granola bars on the trail.

Erin's Boring Rain Gear.

Erin’s Boring Rain Gear.

My Awesome Custom Rain Gear.

My Awesome Custom Rain Gear, Its Called Fashion. Look It Up.

We made the soggy hike out, all the while I was day dreaming about gin and tonics. The 10 Km hike was mostly downhill and not too rocky so we were able to hike it in just under two hours. We made it back to the truck to discover that in our rush I had left a soft sided cooler in the box of my truck. Some birds were kind enough to empty it for me, but it was up to Erin and I to pick up all the garbage they had spread out.  We unloaded our bags into the truck and headed out. We hit the first fast food joint we could find, and on the drive back we stopped at the tourist office and bought a map for the area I plan on hunting in a few weeks… But Ill tell you all about that later.

Eventually we made it home, unpacked our gear and dried out tent out in the garage. I have decided that maybe I should buy some rain gear… maybe.


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