- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 15, 2009

For the past several months - ever since my rural home’s roof received a dish antenna - I have had the time of my life watching new or rerun segments of hunting and fishing shows on an upstairs television, a safe distance from whatever the lady of the house has her eyes glued to.

Although some of the shows are thoughtfully done, occasionally even humorous, few are particularly interesting or educational.

In fact, one of my biggest gripes is with some of the programming on Versus, which runs the majority of these shows.

Newcomers to hunting are taught to be safe and highly visible to fellow hunters, but Versus continues to televise certain hotshots who are after “monster” bucks on private ranches and farms, wearing camouflage from head to toe.

That’s not good. Let’s show those who are taking up recreational hunting that at least a fluorescent orange cap ought to grace everybody’s noggin.

But the fun part of these shows - for me, anyway - is the necessity of having to learn certain customs and usages of the American language that are part of all televised hunting and fishing adventures.

It may require some instruction, but not to worry, I’m here to help. Who knows, the day might come when you’re invited to participate in the filming of one of these things, so you should know proper protocol.

Right from the start, you must learn to say, “It doesn’t get any better than this.” Even if things could get a whole lot better, you need to say it. I’m certain that your hosts expect it, because you hear it constantly.

Then, no matter what you catch or shoot, it is de rigeur that you emit an enthusiastic “That’s what it’s all about!” Then, to underscore a point, you will say, “I tell you what!” as in, “That buck came sneakin’ around that pine thicket and - I tell you what - I was so excited I almost forgot to pull the trigger.”

It could be that those sayings are a mandatory part of a script.

That out of the way, you now must study the meaning of various words that easily can be misunderstood.

For example, if one of the cable TV hunting heroes looks through his binoculars and spots a nice white-tailed buck or elk, you might hear him whisper, “That’s a shooter.”

A what? A shooter?

In my many decades of hunting I’ve never heard that word used, but thanks to Versus I’ve learned that it means the deer is judged worthy of a shot - i.e., if your aim is true he’s ready to be converted into steaks, chops and burgers.

You also need to know that proper Southern hunters never hunt quail even if they do. Instead, they say they’re shooting “birds.” I don’t know why they refuse to use the word “quail,” but they do. Maybe eating too much sausage gravy, biscuits or grits does that to you.

And when did Western states’ lingo creep into eastern deer hunting?

In Colorado, a nine-point bull elk is referred to as a 5-by-4. It’s said that way throughout the West. But when did Eastern deer hunters begin to use this descriptive method? In the East, a 10-point buck has always been a 10-pointer, but with the advent of cable or satellite TV hunting shows it now is described as a 5-by-5.

And on an angling show, no matter how big the fish is that was just hooked, it must be described as a “big ‘un” or a “giant.”

For example, the famous fisherman and cable TV host Roland Martin likes to refer to every bass or redfish he catches as a “giant.” Some of his peers do the same. From here on, you do it, too, you heah?

Finally, every hunting and fishing show suffers from “talkitis.” In all my years, I’ve never heard so much meaningless chatter. Could somebody, please, tell these new TV stars to put a sock in it?

If that happened, could it then get any better than that?

I certainly hope so.

c Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report on Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com. Also check out Mueller’s weekend fishing report and his Inside Outside blog at washingtontimes.com/sports.

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