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​I Was an Indoor (Outdoor) Slave

Don Webster, author badge, myoutdoorbuddy.com
wish to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to all those kind folks who sent me "get well" cards and flowers during my recent, self-imposed stay at the Broken Antlers Rehabilitation Clinic. I'm especially indebted to my dear wife for eventually mustering the courage to hold the "mirror of truth" up to my hopelessly-addicted face. I finally saw what I'd become, and to say the least, it wasn't a pretty picture. Mine was a gradual demise, a slow, insidious descent into a world of unfulfilling, endlessly-repetitive artificiality. Like all addicts, I initially succumbed to a self-deluding, superficially-innocent way of passing the time, a way to fill the void, and feel differently about myself--to feel that I was somehow doing what I loved, even though I wasn't actually doing it. It wasn't crack cocaine, methamphetamines, or marijuana that led me into a dark and monotonous world of insatiable craving. It wasn't a demonic, lustful appetite to view pornography that caused me to lose muscle mass and become pitifully lethargic.

No. I fell prey to the Trojan Horse of the hunting and fishing world. I was victimized by the Great Imposter of the call of the wild. I became an Outdoor Channel addict.

Although I'm well on the road to recovery, I continue to suffer nightmares and flashbacks. I still occasionally vault straight up in bed during the wee hours of the morning, having been roused from nocturnal slumber by frightening, Stygian visions--seeing myself sallow-faced, unshaven and unkempt, rooted in front of the television, maniacally flailing the remote as I switch back and forth, watching whitetail bucks grunted and blown to the arrow over and over and over, muskies and pike and rooster fish and jack crevalle and bigmouth bass, and every other fish on the face of the earth hauled into charter boats, bass boats, kayaks and canoes. I see red stag and tahr walloped in New Zealand, mule deer and elk hammered in Colorado, prairie dogs pounded in Nebraska, feral hogs skewered in Texas, moose maimed in Alaska, elephants, lions and Dik-Diks ambushed in Africa, on and on and on, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, ad infinitum. There I sit, eyes glazed over, hypnotically bound by ceaseless, boob tube repetition.

My wife is chained by her ankle to the stove in the kitchen, barely enough length on the chain to reach the t.v. tray in front of me. She labors feverishly, keeping me supplied with hamburgers, hot dogs, chips and salsa, beer from the fridge, and wine from the cellar, while I ceaselessly surf the pseudo-reality of my vicarious, outdoor existence. She has the look of one imprisoned in the Gulag Archipelago.

My waking hours are still occasionally assaulted by frightful reminders of my psychological dependency. My dog barks at a squirrel, and I go into a trance as I see packs of wild-eyed hounds chasing bears and mountain lions through dense forests of Douglas fir and Pinon pine. I reach for a remote that isn't there. I'm driving along a highway, and a roadside sign displays a curving arrow. I lapse into a state of hypnotic ecstasy, tracking the illuminated flight of a Lumenok into the rib cage of a monster buck as my wife grabs the steering wheel, screaming "You're in the wrong lane!!!"

It's been a costly ordeal in more ways than one. Several of my rifles, shotguns, pistols, and revolvers have rusted away in my gun safes. My 1866 Winchester Flatside Saddle Ring carbine, once valued at $25,000, is now worth $2500. Moths have devoured a treasured, North Maine woods mackinaw which my father purchased from L.L. Bean in 1935, and left me in his will. My waders and hip boots have cracked from the heat after hanging unattended and unused in my garage for the past, four years. Three of my precious, bamboo fly rods have taken on a warp. My two marine batteries are dead beyond the capability for recharge. And so on and so on. You see, when the vast majority of your potential outdoor life is spent sitting in front of the television, you have no need of sporting equipment.

During a recent stress test at my doctor's office, my heart rate reached 180 while the nurse attendant was still warming up the machine, dead level at 1 mph.

Due to my years of physical inactivity, I've been forced to purchase a treadmill, an elliptical trainer, a complete sets of dumbbells, resistance bands, a chin-up bar, several medicine balls, and special, expensive foodstuffs in order to recover my former degree of fitness and overall health.

I hope my story serves as a warning to those of you who have yet to realize that the "War on Drugs" should include The Outdoor Channel. Don't languish in addiction, psychologically chained to your remote control while your slave masters romp and frolic in exotic locales, enjoying the real outdoors on your dime.

Just say NO, before it's too late.

Don E. Webster has been an avid outdoorsman for over 60 years. In addition to being a columnist for MyOutdoorBuddy.com, Don has published three books: "Bury Me In My Waders" An Old Duck Hunter Recalls His Fowl Past, "Double-Ought Buck" a novel, and "Bears, Beer, Trout Tacos, Etc." Short Outdoor Tales & Other Quasi-Kindred Illuminations.

Webster's MyOutdoorBuddy column entitled “Canine Comics" won the Phil Ford Humor Award from the Outdoor Writers Association of California in 2013. Visit Don's website at donewebster.com

He continues to love fox squirrels and hate eucalyptus trees.

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