I’m talking about sportsmen who are probably reaching their 70s and beyond, anglers who have decades of rich hunting and fishing experiences. They often have lost most of their lifelong fishing buddies and are looking for someone to share their passion with – and gain some respect from! Sharing who we are with someone who understands and values our contributions is what makes life bearable.
Typically they are quietly proud men. My dad, for one, felt a strong sense of loneliness and a feeling of being passed by. He wouldn’t complain about it, but his whole countenance would change when we would talk about his old fishing partners and what they had done together. It was his legacy.
Many don’t have family who ever were involved with their prior outdoor activities, and now they have to pursue the sport with whoever they can, at whatever level they can. How do you find someone at your level and temperament?
In addition, health and physical ability can become big limiting factors. Admitting you have a balance concern, health issue or physical disability creates a dilemma. You don’t want to miss out on a great trip because your friend is concerned you can’t handle the activity, so these tough, self-made men tend to do what they’ve always done – say nothing and “make it work.” I see them doing things on the edge of their capabilities, gritting their teeth and hanging in there for as long as they can. Don’t dare ask them before a trip if they may be out of their league, they ARE going! I can’t blame them.
Often, these men had to sell their prized boat and equipment, since they just couldn’t physically handle it anymore. I can tell it’s a big loss, they feel their independence has been compromised.
Today’s world of self-promotion and exaggeration adds to these old warriors’ anxiety. They come from an era when they hung out with a few close friends, kept their mouth shut, worked hard, handled the pain and gave respect when it was earned. These men view many up-and-comers with suspicion until they prove themselves.
These sportsmen have done the work and paid the price and now they find themselves trapped in a generation that doesn’t relate to them or give them credit for their accomplishments. They don’t scream and yell, or bring attention to themselves; they just keep on being the pillar of consistency and support they always have been, often in spite of loneliness. They search for others who also understand and live by “the code.”
How lucky we’ve been to have quiet, trustworthy, stalwart sportsmen, those who have been the pillars of our sport for the last 50 years. The very same kind of anglers we need right now.
Never give up!