Always Hunt with the Fat Guy

On one of my very first assignments for Field & Stream I traveled to Houghton Lake, Michigan, to cover Tip-Up Town, an annual gathering of about 50,000 ice fisherman and snowmobilers. There I met Bob Garner, longtime host of "Michigan Outdoors" TV and an accomplished outdoorsman in his own right.

Garner, a self-admitted Person of Weight, told me the following story:

Every October he ran a grouse camp in the Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. One year a writer who is a noted grouse and woodcock hunter showed up at Garner’s camp. He had been hunting elsewhere with scant success.

“He looked terrible,” Bob told me. “He had been hunting hard all day every day. He was tired and scratched up and hadn’t been finding any birds.”

Garner took him in, let him sleep to a reasonable hour, served a full breakfast, and had the writer out in well-scouted coverts that were far easier walking than the man-killer thickets he had been hunting. When the writer came back for lunch he had birds in the bag and a smile on his face.

“I told him: always hunt with the fat guy,” said Garner. “We know how to hunt smart, not hard.”

There’s another side to this topic. Ray Eye, turkey hunting genius and another Person of Weight, lived for (probably still does, I haven’t hunted with Ray in a while) the moment a client or hunter called him fat in turkey camp, especially if that client or hunter then questioned Ray’s ability to get around. Eye grew up hunting turkeys on steep Ozark mountains, and he would make it his personal mission to walk the offender into the ground. “These hills in northern Missouri are like hunting a golf course compared to where I started out,” he said.

So, always hunt with the fat guy, but don’t call him fat. True advice?