"Myths which are believed in tend to become true." — George Orwell
What can you believe these days? Unless you have been living under that proverbial rock, you know we live in a crazy time of fake news and rumor control. What you take as truth often depends on where you get your news and who you trust.
The outdoors world of hunting and fishing may not be quite that bad, but we certainly have our time-honored truisms that have been lurking around since our first hunter sat poking sticks in that big fire we always talk about. (Ever think about that? Why is sitting and stirring the campfire so mesmerizing? I think it is because — well, maybe we better talk about that one some other time.)
Anyhow, you sportsmen (and women) out there will recognize most of these old tales. Some you may believe, some of you may or may not agree with my assessment of them, and some of you may think I should go back to my job as a greeter at Wally World.
So here, in no certain order, are some of the myths/truisms from the outdoors world hit parade.
Once a spike, always a spike.
Deer hunters know this one. Since I was a little kid (right after the French and Indian War), I have heard self-appointed deer experts preach about how a spike buck — the little buck you see with the skinny little single-pointed antlers — will be a spike his whole life. Even as a kid, standing around the trucks at lunch time eating Vienna sausages and listening to all this, I had my doubts.
Most male whitetail deer (not all) are button bucks in the fall of their first year. Small, knob-like buttons appear where he will have antlers later. The next year, when the buck is about 1 1/2 years old, he will commonly have spikes — two little antlers that do not branch out. After that, this buck may be a fork horn or could be a small six-pointer or whatever.
I still cringe when the local deer expert advises something like: "You may as well shoot that spike and get him out of the gene pool; he will never be anything but a spike." Really? I will say most bucks start as a spike, and you can't control genetics in a wild deer herd anyway.
(That should a good one for discussion at the barbershop.)
Whitetail deer are color blind.
Once again, this is an old one, and I would say yes — and no.
I am not a wildlife biologist, and I don't play one on TV, but some of the latest studies seem to say deer see some but not all colors. Scientists who study this sort of thing tell us deer may see the different shades of blue and yellow very well but not so much on reds and greens. This may account for deer having no problem with a hunter in blaze orange, which is a good thing as the requirement of wearing this color has saved many lives.
The old saw about deer seeing everything in black and white is not holding water with today's wildlife experts.
To pee or not to pee.
Back in the day, I knew several bow hunters who would go to great lengths not to urinate around a tree stand. The theory here is that if a buck detected where you had — well, you know — he would flee the area and never return. This usually involved an empty milk jug or other container on a string that was pulled up to the hunter in the tree. The hunter would then use the jug to ... well, you get the idea.
These guys were very serious about this, and I am sure some of you out there are still doing this.
Many deer experts are now telling us that taking a leak around your stand will not frighten deer and may actually attract some.
One scent company I did a story on a few years ago, and I am not making this up, actually sold a deer attractant package that called for the hunter to mix the ingredients with their own urine. Scout's honor.
OK, I know, we did not get to every myth and probably didn't cover some of the ones you wanted to see talked about. Maybe you want to tell about some of your favorites? Let me know. As usual, those stingy editors do not give me enough room here; a prophet is never appreciated in his own time.
So there, that wasn't too painful, was it? I got us through some of these old favorites that you love to argue about — and didn't even bring up Sasquatch or mountain lions.
"Guns & Cornbread" is written by Larry Case, who lives in Fayette County, W.Va. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.