Anyone who hunts or fishes consistently and does so with a group of other sportsmen are bombarded by stories of the “bad old days” when men hunted out of need and could take game with their eyes closed.
These hunters could sniff the wind, lick the dirt, and still hunt a deer in the worst of conditions with the worst equipment. They could flip a bait caster a quarter mile and would net fish out of the pond like they were scooping them out of a barrel.
There were less regulations, less people pushing them around and setting limits, they could live off the land and be left in peace. We’ve all heard these stories and thought, "Man, that would be the life".
I really started to wonder if this was true. I weighed some pros and cons and I started to come up with some questions. Were they worried about the same things modern day sportsmen are? Did sportsmen back in the day really have it better than we did? Were they truly better skilled than their modern day counterparts?
Were sportsman worried about the same things we are?
Bob Sargent was a correspondent for the Spartansburg Herald and wondered the same thing. He wrote an article in 1982 using Field and Stream Magazine as a measure. Since we are almost 30 years away from his piece, I figured I could measure against his article.
He took a 1925 edition and wondered if sportsman then were concerned with the same things we are now. Here is an excerpt from the magazine in 1925.
“The sportsman of the nation realize more and more every day that they must organize... Unless such action is taken their interests will be buffeted around from pillar to post. While forests are swept away, streams despoiled and polluted, fish life exterminated and game depleted - and sportsman will hold the sack.”
This is something sportsmen today worry about heavily. Will there be land and water for our children and grandchildren to hunt and fish from? People don’t realize that the greatest conservationists in the country are hunters and fishermen wanting to keep our lands un-developed and pure to enjoy.
Sportsmen in those days were also learning of a new form of regulation called gun control, something sportsmen still worry about today on many levels.
In 1927, shipping firearms through the mail became illegal, creating an outcry among the sportsman community. The NRA was formed 30 years prior and pressure from the government was looming preceding the National Firearms Act of 1934.
Coming off of the birth of the 20th century, hunting and fishing was not culturally popular, deemed as barbaric and the roaring 20’s were a cultural divide.
I think in this category the old and new sportsmen are tied. Every generation has to fight for what it wants, and theirs was no different.
To Be Continued in Part 2
Source: Spartanburg Herald, Spartanburg, SC Thursday July 22nd 1982 pg C4.