Danger, Will Robinson!
I’m going to warn you about this ahead of time: if you’re a PETA member or just don’t like hunting and fishing, then this entry is not for you. But I figure you’re more or less like me, Devoted Reader, or you wouldn’t return here again and again (all three of you who do). See, I’m from semi-rural East Texas, where hunting and fishing are an integral part of the lifestyle. While I can understand why people might choose not to do either, I don’t really see anything wrong with it, as long as you’re not wiping out an endangered species. Yes, and that’s coming from a political liberal, too.
Here’s my philosophy on the subject: I enjoy fishing, and while I don’t hunt anymore because I don’t feel the need to, I don’t really have a problem with that, either. I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to hunt or even trap (which I have also done, yep), if I needed to do so in order to survive or supplement my diet.
That said, this entry is about what I consider to be an outdoorsman’s paradise, though it’s by no means an inexpensive one: the Bass Pro Shops that operate in two cities in the Metroplex. I’m more familiar with the one in Garland, which is a couple of miles from my home, but I’ve also been in the one in Grapevine. Both are superlative and make no bones about the fact that, well, their entire retail line is devoted to killing things and helping people accomplish said task. I’m not going to apologize for that, folks; hunting and fishing are a part of the human condition and have been as long as we’ve been human — some things must die so that others may eat, and all that — and even today more people participate in both than in just about any other sport.
And no, just because I think hunting and fishing is okay doesn’t mean I’m okay with cock- or dogfighting; those sports are just barbaric. Please don’t lump me with those idiots.
Anyway, off the soapbox and back to the subject at hand, which is interesting things you can do in DFW. While I’ve heard that Cabelas and Gander Mountain outdoor stores can be even more impressive than Bass Pro Shops, I was sufficiently impressed on a recent visit to return again and take a few photos. The nearest Bass Pro Shops “Outdoor World” store is located quite literally on the shores of the lovely Lake Ray Hubbard, almost in shouting distance of my house. Here’s what it looks like from the outside, complete with a boat that’s on clearance. Just $13,999!
The store has a kind of rustic charm that would probably give an animal rights advocate nightmares, though I found it interesting. Take a look at these elk skulls on the exterior, complete with magnificent horns. If you’re a Native American or from Canada, you might call ’em wapiti.
I have to admit that I thought they got a little out of hand with some of the interior decorations near the entrance, both indoors and out. I mean, this basically represents an artiodactyl holocaust, wouldn’t you say? So. Many. Horns.
I never cared for deer hunting…probably because it’s boring and I’m no good at it. In my entire life, I’ve killed a button-buck and a spike. That’s it. I preferred the stuffed fish on display. They had a lot of lunker bass, as well as this truly gigantamous alligator gar. I would not want to meet this fella or his brother in a dark alley. Dayum.
I didn’t take a lot of pictures of the merchandise in the store, because I figure you know what that looks like anyhow. I did take a few, though, such as these boats, just several of the many they had on clearance. I could have had some of them for as little as ten or eleven thousand dollars. Unfortunately, they were all too small to live on, and for those kinds of prices, I’d have to demand that.
And here’s the selection from their section that was devoted entirely to bowfishing — yep, fishing with bows. If you weren’t aware of it, there’s a whole sport dedicated to shooting rough fish (gar, carp, bowfin, and others that aren’t considered game species) with bow and arrow. These guys are really prepared for serve that particular market segment.
Not too surprisingly, stuffed hunting trophies and other examples of the taxidermist’s art are liberally scattered around the place. The kids were especially enamored with Mr. Bear here. In fact, I had a lot of trouble getting a clear shot without a kid in the way.
I also found a raccoon hidden atop a small display, next to a skunk. I thought he was very lifelike, and I’ve encountered many raccoons in my time.
One of my favorite features of the store, and something you’ll find in all the Bass Pro Shops, was the fish pond. In some stores (including the Grapevine store), they use them to display casting techniques and the uses of new lures, and I understand they’ll occasionally catch the fish in the display ponds. Well, I didn’t see any of that, and in any case the one in Garland is more a collection of vast aquaria, waterfalls, and fountains than anything else. I love aquaria, as you may know, and this one is a treat (especially if you have kids). It’s full of bass, crappie, bream, turtles, gar, and catfish. Such catfish! Among others were this albino beauty, and this big <> mamma that must have been four feet long and weighed a hundred pounds.
You know what? Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s worth going here just to see the fish. If you’re looking for more information on the DFW area Bass Pro Shops, go to http://www.basspro.com/ and check out their Store Locations tab. It’ll apprise you of any upcoming events, most of which are free.