Look, I’ve spent my whole life bouncing from city to country and back to the city. And though I could write a book about the good traits that I do not possess, adaptability would never be one of the chapters. Being able to quickly adjust to my surroundings has always been my strong suit.
So when I moved as a kid from Denver, Colorado, where I went to school and hung out with the Coors kids (hey Brad, hey Holly!) to the small Southern Utah town of Richfield, I quickly began to embrace the local culture.
That meant horses, cows, guns, fishing and dirt bikes, to name a few of the things that I grew to love right away.
These days I’m fortunate to live a bit of a hybrid city/country existence, which allows me to completely indulge my redneck proclivities once or twice a year. This year was special because I got to pass along a lot of my hard-won redneck knowledge to my sons and to my nieces and nephews who were in town for the Fourth of July.
It all started innocently enough with a fly fishing trip, which quickly spiraled into a carp hunt with bows and arrows, rocks and clubs. Now let me preface this with a bona fide scientific fact: Carp are non-native fish that have been degrading waterways all over America, driving native fish to the brink of extinction.
So as a kid, we felt good about diminishing their numbers using nothing but our recurve bows and old cast-off hunting arrows that were missing a fletching or two. My brothers and I developed considerable skill in shooting the overgrown goldfish, even from some distance.
When we spotted a school of especially large carp in the stream flowing out of Fish Lake that used to be teeming with trout, all those old feelings came back. A quick trip to the attic of my dad’s old farm house produced the same bows and arrows we used decades earlier.
Picture in your mind 16 kids and adults stalking along the marshy banks of a stream. When the first carp was spotted, arrows, rocks and makeshift spears were flying everywhere.
Except into the carp itself.
None of my brothers felt the need to use the bows ourselves, wanting our boys and girls to have a go first.
For one hour we chased the school up and down a 300-yard section of that stream with no luck, until finally my oldest son, Spencer, got an arrow into one. It was a glancing blow and the arrow came out fairly quickly, but slowed it just enough for the rest of clan to pile it on.
Be warned, these pics are not for the PETA crowd.
As is often the case, the object of their obsession suddenly drew pity once they had it on the bank and saw the pain they had inflicted up close and personal.
The kids shook off the melancholy just as soon as another monster was spotted. Using their swarming technique they stirred the second fish into a confused fury, allowing my younger brother, Scott, to make a fine long-range shot. And again everyone felt sad when the prey was lifted onto the bank.
Later that same night, the local news covered a story about the massive effort underway to remove 10 million pounds of carp from Utah Lake in an effort to restore the water quality. We all got over the 20 pounds of carp we took that day pretty quickly.