McManus has some huge hiking boots to fill

Mark Twain may be considered the greatest humor writer in American history, but I think Patrick F. McManus gave him a run for his money. I’m no McManus – nobody ever will be – but I think I’ve done plenty of stupid stuff you can laugh at.

I used to dream of someday taking Pat McManus’ place, writing those hilarious stories in Outdoor Life. But McManus had a unique genius that won’t ever be replaced. I have made a new year’s resolution to try to make you laugh at least a fraction as hard as McManus always made me laugh, though, so starting next week, I’ll do my best to bring you a funny story on this show. I can’t promise they’ll always be 100% true – but I’m sure McManus stretched a truth from time to time, too. I have enough poor decisions and unlucky breaks in my own past to give you a chuckle at my expense. And you’ll laugh because you’ve probably done similar stupid things, too.

Consider, for instance, the time, early in my marriage, that I tried to impress my wife with my outdoorsy prowess. I asked her if she’d like to go with me on a deer hunt, and she accepted. I deluded myself thinking I’d have better luck than usual, and on this hunt, I would prove to her I was the perfect husband by harvesting a giant mule deer buck as she looked on in awe.

It didn’t go well. Or, I should say, it went as my hunts usually go. I slipped on a wet branch and plummeted 30 feet down a near-vertical slope into an icy stream; I spooked a herd of deer that had been bedded down when I had to ask Amy a third time where she was saying the deer were; and I got us lost for a couple hours. When we finally made it back to the truck, there was a deer grazing right next to my pickup, but I couldn’t shoot without hitting the truck. The one good decision I made was to NOT try to take a shot.

Lord knows there are plenty more stories like that one. I’ve heard you should always learn from your mistakes, but I take it a step further. In addition to learning from them, I also try to let other people laugh at them.