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Thanks to mom for the outdoors etiquette

May 11, 2012 at 11:04 PM

The State Journal-Register

One thing we all have in common is that each of us has a mother. Even Buckwheat, who has argued with every thought I’ve had since 1972, can’t argue with that.

Mom taught me a lot of do’s and don’ts. As concerned as she was about somebody putting their eye out with something, there must have been an entire generation of one-eyed people on a branch of our family tree. It is odd that none of the old family photographs show anyone wearing an eye patch. Maybe they removed them for the picture.

Mom’s teachings were heavy on “don’ts.” Mom would cook any game, fish or fowl that we brought home and make it taste good.

She had only one rule: Bring it home cleaned, plucked, filleted or scaled, and ready to be floured and put in the skillet. She made no bones about telling us that those who have nothing to do with the catch or the kill have no desire, or inclination, to clean it.

“Wear your overshoes. So what if they look dorky? If somebody invites you in, you can take them off outside, and then you won’t be tracking mud across their clean floors.”

She’s right on both counts. Overshoes look dorky, and people appreciate not having to scrub the floor after you’re gone.

It doesn’t matter if it isn’t the best meal you’ve ever had, always thank the cook. Help clear the table. Offer to stick your hands in the dishwater. Whoever prepared the meal, let them know you appreciate their effort and the opportunity to sit at their table.

When you’ve been in your hunting or fishing clothes all day, you have become accustomed to the “gamey” ambience that comes through the door with you. Others might be turning up their noses. Change clothes. It will be a breath of fresh air for everyone involved.

Don’t wake up the whole house. If you’re leaving early in the morning, pack the truck the night before. Somebody could put their eye out tripping over that pile of stuff you leave on the floor. It’s safer to be well organized, and you have a better chance of getting it all together when there’s nobody chasing you out the door.

The non-participants, especially your mother, don’t want their picture taken with your prize catch or your trophy buck. Ask them to take the picture. Don’t insist they be in it. When your descendents look at that image 50 years from now, and see Mom or Grandma glaring at the camera, they will have no idea why she’s standing there. They will recognize her ready-to-spit-nails expression, because it’s one of the things you got from her.

Everything I learned from my Mom about “proper” outdoor behavior boils down to one very simple thing: Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, be considerate.

As Mom told me many times, “It doesn’t cost a thing to be nice.”

Contact George Little at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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