Rene Descartes (pronounced ‘Descartes’) used to be a Frenchman, back during the 17th century. I say ‘used to be’ because Descartes is currently deceased. But before he shuffled off his mortal coil, Descartes said some things people still say today, sometimes, when they want to sound philosophical or well-read. For some reason.
One of the things Descartes said was ‘Cogito ergo sum,’ which is French for ‘supersize it.’
Just kidding. Actually the phrase is German for ‘I think, therefore I am.’ Descartes was a little weird, if you ask me.
But he had a point, there, and it was that if I doubt my existence, the act of doubting proves I exist. Not that I, personally, have ever doubted that I exist, but that was evidently an issue at the time. People must have had way too much free time on their hands back then, and probably way too many alcoholic beverages.
Descartes’ statement has been repeated over and over during the intervening years, for all kinds of reasons, and it’s been slightly modified to fit all aspects of life, such as fishing. The title of this column, as a matter of fact, is as close as I can get to the Latin translation for ‘I fish, therefore I lie,’ which is a common alteration of Descartes’ philosophy. It’s also probably more true than the original statement.
My uncle, Bob Engdahl, used to like to pull my leg. Not literally, because that would be creepy, but I mean he used to see if he could get me to believe stuff that wasn’t true sometimes, just for fun. Once, after he had been on a fishing trip, Uncle Bob told me he had caught a huge bass, but it had gotten away as he was trying to get it in the boat.
I asked him how big it was, and he said, “I don’t know for sure, but my fishing buddy took a picture of it before it got off the hook, and the picture weighed seven pounds.”
Which is why people say, “I fish, therefore I lie.” Fishers are expected to stretch the blanket a little, or a lot, when they tell their fishing stories. Like the two fishermen who were telling their tales once, and one claimed to have caught a bass that weighed 23 pounds. The other guy claimed to have once hooked a Coleman lantern, and when he brought it up it was still lit. The first one complained, so the second guy said, “If you’ll knock about 13 pounds off your bass, I’ll blow out my lantern.”
This habit of lying carries over into other areas of outdoorism, such as hunting and such. Rattlesnakes are often claimed to be longer, fatter, and heavier than they actually are, wich is strange, since rattlesnakes are dangerous enough when they’re small. But for some reason people want to make them even more fearsome.
Pictures often get passed around on the internets of folks holding up rattlesnakes that, at first glance, look huge, like over six feet long. Usually these pictures are deceptive, because the snake is being held hanging from a stick of indeterminate length, and so is much closer to the camera than the person holding it. Instead of stretching the blanket it’s the snake that’s being stretched.
The same thing happens with pictures of dead hogs pretty often, although hogs can get pretty big. A picture made the rounds a few years ago of a Houston cop with a hog he’d killed that weighed over 1,000 pounds. It was legitimate, but the story was that the hog was wild. I called the cop, and he wouldn’t even talk to me. He knew the hog had been released shortly before he shot it, and the story he was telling was bogus. Wild hogs seldom get much over 200 pounds. The truth came out later, that the hog was domesticated.
I suspect the same thing is true of the hog killed recently by a fellow named Jett Webb in North Carolina. The picture shows Webb sitting behind the beast, which supposedly weighed 500 pounds. But the picture is deceptive. Not photoshopped, just wonkey.
Either Webb is four feet tall and weighs 90 pounds, or the hog is bound to weigh over 1,500 pounds, if the picture is legit. I don’t think either of those things is true, so Webb has to be sitting about six feet back of the hog in the picture, not right behind it.
In the near future I plan to shoot a rabbit, and then get my son to take a picture of me about ten yards behind it, which should make it look like a 500 pound bunny. Because if people will believe a hog the size of a Volkswagon only weighs 500 pounds, they will probably believe a Central Texas cottontail can weigh that much.
To be sure a picture is accurately depicting game, look for those with the rifle or bow leaning against the animal on the camera side. Even those can be faked, but it’s not as easy. When the animal is in the foreground, and everything else is behind it, there’s no way to know how honest it is.
Of course, I might actually kill a 500 pound rabbit. Easter may be a little late, this year . . .
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who never hunts Easter eggs anymore. Well, almost never. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or firstname.lastname@example.org