The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

February 23, 2013

Don Steese column: Old times

By Don Steese
For The Daily Item

— You know you’re getting old when you read about a new Hoppe’s No. 9 formula being introduced and the first thing you think is “It better smell just like the old one!”   

For many of us old timers the aroma of Hoppe’s No. 9 is as much a part of the outdoor pursuits as the smell of decaying leaves, wood smoke or wet bird dogs. There have been a lot of gun solvents developed in the past hundred years, but if they don’t have that Hoppe’s smell, us old guys just don’t trust ’em to clean our guns.

We leave the new-fangled miracle products to the kids and dance with the one who brung us. In addition to being old, we can be a bit hardheaded us old outdoorsmen can.

We old fellas tend to stick to what’s worked for us in the past even when the old ways don’t work very well anymore. I know a lot of hunters who will sit for hours in a tree stand and see nothing rather than come to grips with the fact that the deer aren’t using that particular trail anymore. After all that stand was productive for 40 years, why shouldn’t it be productive for 40 more?

The same type of stubborn streak leads grouse hunters to continue to hunt covers that are long past their prime. Our minds know that a good grouse thicket only stays that way for a few years and then the trees mature too much and a great cover becomes not very good at all.

Our mind knows that but our heart tells us that there is always going to be a grouse hiding in the snag at the bottom of that fallen oak tree. There always was one there and there always will be.

Us old guys also tend to shy away from all the modern accouterments that are supposed to “improve” our hunting success. We don’t need an expensive range finder to determine how far away that nice buck is, we have the experience of many years in the field.

We don’t need a bow that you need a 300-page owner’s manual to learn to operate. Fred Bear killed hundreds of big, and dangerous game using a simple long bow — why do we need 16 pulleys, four different sights and a high-tech release mechanism. The answer is we don’t, or at least we think we don’t.

We also tend to hop in a boat and go where the fish are rather than relying on several $100 worth of electronic fish finding gadgetry. Any fool should be able to figure out where the fish are going to be feeding on any given day….shouldn’t he?

As I said, we old timers cling to our tried-and-true ways, even when it would make better sense to get into the 21st century. But hey, as long as we’re having fun, why try to tell us any differently? It won’t do much good anyhow, because we don’t take advise very well either. Just leave us alone and we’ll go away.

By the way, the very first line in the press release announcing the new Hoppe’s formula reads, “The new Hoppe’s No. 9 Synthetic Blend has the same recognizable scent and cleaning power of the traditional No. 9 formula.”  

Sure is nice to know that in our youth-oriented society, somebody still respects us old geezers!

Email comments to jdsteese@yahoo.com