For the majority of my life, I have been an outdoorsman. Coupled with the occasional task of being an outdoors writer, this provides an edge to the storytelling enigma.
Whenever I interview someone, it seems as if I was on board or standing with him or her during the hunt. Some will provide every line, while others need coaxing to divulge even the smallest detail.
With this in mind, a few tips may ease the moment during the interview.
When interviewed, remember we are at your mercy; we listen and try to make use of all you have told us, allowing for excitement and humiliation simultaneously. While you tell the story, I try to find words that will express your feelings as well as convey it to our readers.
When you use terms such as "monster" or "hawg," and add colorful words to the telling, it quickly becomes a challenge for those not versed in outdoors slang.
For instance, the majority of hunters will express themselves and their quarry as being in the right spot at the right time. This is fine, but did you intend on making the trip or were you preset for another excursion of less desirable results?
Turkey hunters often claim the big beard seems to have floated within sight at the last moment. Deer hunters claim large racks were their reward for sound stand placement and tracking abilities.
Sounds good, but in truth the words came out more like "That big sucka jus sorta flew right at my 12 before I blasted a cap in its @#$ at the last minute" or "I knowed that big fella was near, but I made quick work of dropping him afore he headed off blocking my stand."
Anglers like to color their achievements with light lines, big fish and remarkable feats of dexterity. Their descriptions are a bit more tolerated among readers, provided there is a modicum of reality. When their story is told, you can bet the following will crop up in their description: "Ya shoulda seen the one that got away; This ain't nothing compared to what hit yesteday."
Watch out for the overuse of the word about: "We caught about 10 or 12 of them ... it was about 20 pounds ... we left about six." You would think they had some innate ability to judge weight, had only a notion as to what was caught and possessed a built-in mechanism to tell time.
Moreover, why is it most fish they brag about never seem to have ounces added to the weight? "Heck, it had to go at least 10 pounds if it was an ounce."
The phenomenon of embellishment by a sport's participant is commonplace -- unless the act is witnessed. Televised events or those with an audience need not discipline their achievements. The lone sportsman, the hunter, or angler, however, needs validity to their claim and someone to tell their stories. To edit the rough and maintain the emotion, each feels during their time of accomplishment is our goal.
Yet, I have found stories of remarkable hunts, huge fish taken on small tippets, and Father/Son outings more interesting than those of overpaid athletes who can't seem to stay out of trouble and whose headline is based more on personal failure than daily achievement.
We strive to be the best we can be; It just seems natural to embellish things and put the focus on the story more than the participant. Besides, if all the high-tech gadgetry, GPS devices and technology of the day can't make us better than we actually are, how do you suppose the story will be told?