Talking The Talk: Translating An Outdoorsman

I heard somebody once say, “Writing should be easy. All the words are in the dictionary. All you have to do is put them in the right order.” True that. I’ve always enjoyed being a writer and I get excited when I put something on paper, go back and read it, and say, “Oooh, that’s pretty damn good!”

One of the things I like best about writing for hunting and fishing is that we get to use our own language. What might seem part of the bizarro world to others is perfectly acceptable among sportsmen (and women). Social media and smartphones spawned a whole slew of colloquialisms (LOL, OMG, WTF, etc.), but they are late to party compared to the vernacular of those who like to test their mettle against the finned, furred, and the feathered. Here are some of my personal favorites:

A large fish is often referred to as a “pig,” “lunker,” or a “hawg.” Uttering the phrase, “She’s a pig” will bring approving smiles of joy to the most avid of anglers. A largemouth bass is often referred to as a “bucket mouth.” Walleye are called “marble eyes” and small fish not worthy of keeping are called “dinks.” I’ve called a few of my friends “dinks” before, and yet I’ve always somehow managed to keep them around. Crappies get in on the fun as well, being affectionately known as “slabsides” or “papermouths.” I once had a flyfishing guide tell me that we were gonna go upstream to a particular “honey hole” to see if we could hook up with “Leroy Brown.” I’m happy to say we were successful!

Not all the terms are of endearment. Northern pike have rightfully earned the name “snot rocket,” “slim dart,” or “weed shark” and catching a mess of “mud puppies” (bullheads) may be good fun, but that’s about all they are good for. Same goes for “buglemouths” (carp). I’ve heard they can be quite tasty when smoked, but I remain unconvinced.

Fishermen don’t have exclusive rights to this language thing as hunters speak in tongues all their own as well. Ask a whitetail hunter about the moment of truth and he may tell you that, “I let the air out of him,” “I tattooed him,” “I tipped him over,” or the politically incorrect but always funny, “I knocked his dick in the dirt.” I’m serious. You can’t make this stuff up (even though somebody did).

Real Connection™ is about speaking the language of the people we are trying to reach. That’s what makes this job so much fun. I get to trade shoptalk with people who know exactly what I’m trying to say…even if the rest of the world hasn’t a clue.

Brian Boesche with fish.