KEVIN TATE: Preparation process can be outdoor magic in the making

By Kevin Tate/Outdoors Writer

While many of the things we enjoy in the outdoors mean far more to us than the mere sum of their parts, sometimes the parts exist on their own greater than the value of any sum.
A still lake, unmarred by even a single ripple early on a humid summer’s morning, the first light breeze as the sun breaks the horizon, the scent of the mist rising from the surface of the water, the hope bound in the first cast, the first splash, vibration telegraphed back to hand through graphite and thin, clear line as a spinnerbait twirls its blade through the shallows on retrieve, and the eventual lightning flash of the first strike, and every strike thereafter, a live wire connected to the nature we continually seek – all may add up for some to just fishing. For most of us, though, there’s a lot more there.
For guys like me, beyond the outdoor experiences and adventures themselves lies a challenge to tell the stories well and true, and in a way that honors their subjects: the game, the hunters, the weather and the wind. Too often I feel as though I could have done it better, that someone could have done it better and, therefore, I should have as well.
Someone once said writing about wine is like dancing about architecture, meaning the medium of communication falls far short of achieving justice for the subject. There’s no doubt that often holds true for writing about the outdoors, but even though my words and images often fail the grandeur my eyes behold, it doesn’t mean I won’t continue to try, because it’s in the attempt to describe that the greatest of my own experience is found, and by tell-ing the stories to the best of the ability I have, part of the stories become mine, and the experiences become a part of me.
For guys like Tony Mason and countless others who’ve loved the outdoors all their lives, the expression of joy that flows through the streamers, paint and steel of the lures they create builds a tactile memory that exceeds words, that surpasses them somehow, that exist as stories you can hold and, in holding, remember and pass on, with words of your own or silently, because the craft the lures represent transcends the mornings and the waters. Like spiritual trophies these fish-catching instruments are functional art, and function as part of a greater art, an art greater than us all.

Kevin Tate is V.P. of Media Productions for Mossy Oak in West Point.