I don’t fish.
I don’t have anything against fishing, in fact, I kind of like it, mainly because you’re expected to enjoy a cold one while taking in the great outdoors. The only reason I don’t fish more has to with that economic principle called opportunity cost. The concept of opportunity cost was developed by Austrian economist Friedrich von Wieser or the late Colonel Jeff Cooper, I can never remember which. Anyway, it’s a microeconomic theory that defines the value of an alternative forgone in a situation where limited resources force a single choice. For me, the limited resource part is the time away from work and chores and the choice part is whether to go shooting or fishing. To put the opportunity cost theory in down-home terms, for every hour I go fishing, that’s an hour I don’t have available for shooting, and to me, an hour not shooting is kind of like a century and a half. It’s just like choosing steak or lobster. I love lobster, but I’ll never pass up a medium rare, bone-in ribeye for it.
Opportunity cost theory is neat in textbooks, but in the real world it simply means I know less about fishing than Jivaro Indian embalming techniques.
When I had the opportunity to learn a few things about bowfishing last week at the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association (SEOPA) annual conference, I jumped at the chance. Shoot fish? Heck yeah, count me in! It seemed like a very elegant solution to that whole pesky opportunity cost thing. I could shoot AND fish at the same time. If I was lucky, there might even be a barrel involved.
Waiting on my departure time to the Fontana Lake marina for an outing on the Muzzy Broadheads adventure fish slaying boat, I pondered whether it was appropriate to ask our guide, Mark Land, if I could use a regular gun instead of a bow. In my view, it should be more or less the same as you’re trying to hit a swimming fish with a projectile. Plus, I’ve heard stories on the internet about ill-tempered carp jumping into boats, so I figured there was a good self-defense case too. While I even offered to use a suppressed gun to keep the noise down, Mark insisted I use a compound bow. Gee, when a guy who works for an archery company offers to take you out for free, I guess he expects you to use his products. That was OK with me though, it was still shooting, more or less.
Arriving at the marina, I glimpsed the Muzzy adventure boat. That’s my name, not theirs, and I call it that because it’s far more aqua-tactical than those Jungle Cruise boats you ride on at Disney. Muzzy uses this one to promote bow fishing and it’s decked out not just for the activity of bowfishing tournaments, but optimized for photography and television production outings. I’m pretty sure it has a two trillion horsepower Mercury outboard. It’s also got a different twist on the air boat concept – a trolling fan. This allows slow travel, maybe eight miles per hour or so, in very shallow and grassy areas. Using the fan, this boat only needs about 8 inches of water to operate, so you can chase fish into the most elusive of hiding spots. The boat is also decked out with more floodlights lights than Rikers Island Penitentiary. Those are for spotting fish in the prime fishing hours after dark. In fact, Mark’s got so many lights rigged on the Muzzy boat that a separate gas generator is required to power them all. Getting started with a rig like this is cheap – only about fifty grand.