At Duckhook Customs, we bring together the traditions of hunting and fishing to the golf course. As one of the founders who hunted and fished more than golfed growing up, I thought comparing golf to hunting and fishing might be worthwhile. I grew up in the South, hunting the woods of Virginia for deer, squirrels, dove, and rabbits and fishing the Chesapeake Bay in an old wooden diesel powered oyster boat for spot, croaker, blues, and flounder. Farm ponds for bass and blue hills were high on the list too. My family wasn’t into golf but we loved being outside. Later in life I moved to Michigan and began to enjoy more waterfowl hunting. Golf came late in life to me, after the kids went off to college. The sports (or pastimes, if you prefer) are strangely similar. Let me explain.
To start off, golf is a target sport. You’re aiming, so accuracy is important. It’s easy to see how hunting has that in common but fishing does too. I was in the Florida Keys on a 17’ flats boat fishing for tarpon with live crab on a hot day. In the distance, two permit we’re heading our way. Permit is a prized fish and rarely caught. Having worked in the fishing industry for a few years, I was pretty decent with a rod. That day I was lucky enough to cast at the perfect spot for the bite and landed a 16 pounder. Hole in one! A few inches off and the fish would have passed by. Fly fishing is an accuracy sport if you haven’t tried it. I normally am just trying to keep the dang fly out of a tree and wet, but for those with skill, the fly lands perfectly at the seam where water heading downstream meets with the eddy heading upstream, a place known for holding hungry trout.
Next up? Skill. All three of these sports require skill. While you can enjoy them as a beginner, taking that 40 yard shot at a wild South Dakota pheasant heading downwind is gonna be tough if you haven’t hunted birds for years. Any shot at a bird zipping by can be tough. And getting a birdie on the links doesn’t come to newbies very often either. Success is measured in years of practice, not months. How about the deer hunter in a tiny tree stand with freezing hands trying to make that 40+ yard shot on the monster buck-of-a-lifetime without letting the adrenaline spike get to her. It’s about the same as hammering the long putt for par to win the club championship. It’ll get the heart beating and only the skilled can keep their proverbial s&@$ together to make it happen.
Third, golf is a social sport done in small groups. Most of my best hunting and fishing trips have been with a few family members or best friends. The activity is often individual but it’s done in front of others, which makes for some friendly ribbing opportunities. Golf and hunting/fishing can also be a team sport. The friendly golf scramble for example. How about when we hooked into a 75 pound sturgeon in Oregon and passed the rod around because we were too tired to reel. Or crabbing for dungeoness crabs where one person is trying to drive the boat (not very well, you know who you are) in a strong current, another is pulling the heavy crab trap line, and the third is managing the crabs and acting as crew chief. Team sport!! We often hunt as a group, surrounding a marsh to improve our chances at wood ducks, geese, or mallards. Or holding a marching line in a cornfield to prevent pheasants from slipping by.
Lastly, you can’t enjoy these sports if you don’t love being outside and in nature. Now a man made golf course may not be virgin nature but there are some absolutely gorgeous courses that look like nature’s finest, like the rambling Scottish style dunes of Acadia Bluffs on the rugged shore of Lake Michigan.
As I write this, it’s opening day for deer season in Michigan where it’s a balmy 63 and sunny. Thirty turkeys just walked past the blind where I’ve been diligently scouring the field and woods. The field is a deep green layer of alfalfa that certainly reminds me of every fairway I can’t hit with my drives. Whether I get a deer or not today, I count it as a major success, especially since I get to spend the day with my grown up son who lives far away. Can’t wait to visit him in the spring for a round of golf.