Our Outdoors: Leading Indicators

Nick Simonson

By Nick Simonson

Past performance is not indicative of future results.

If you’ve ever caught the last five seconds of an investment commercial on the radio promising big returns in real estate, or how profitable opening your own franchise might be, you’ve likely grabbed that phrase out of the disclaimers crammed in a fast-talking, Micro Machines-style word salad spewed by the narrator in the final moments of the pitch.  Oftentimes, it seems like the time devoted to the caveats and buyer beware portion of the advertisement is longer than the actual selling of the product, but generally, that phrase in one form or another is in there.  In the last five years, it certainly rings true in every realm, from the stock market and nascent cryptocurrency trading to home buying and real estate.  Where it has constantly been a reminder of how inconstant things can be, however, is the outdoors.

When it comes to hunting and fishing, so many variables come into play that predicting the future is almost impossible.  From the macro influences such as seasonal conditions, to the micro factors such as a day’s weather and wind, every set up for an outing is different. The same too holds true for the hunter and angler.  A busy summer schedule or a lack of off-season practice can influence a shot three months down the road, just like losing track of the latest bass baits or walleye blades may make next season’s fishing less successful.  A bad night’s sleep, a late start due to truck problems, or the decision to turn right instead of left along that prime piece of outdoors real estate, may all change a hunting or fishing outing and those spaces that once produced prime memories result in diminishing returns.

But that’s looking at the glass half empty. 

Happy accidents do occur along the way, and opportunities arise out of our inability to hunt or fish our memories when a truck is parked at a public access, or a boat is anchored up on a favorite waypoint.  These moments force us to adjust our tactics, explore new territory, and perhaps employ some old tricks in a brand-new location.  There it is that new memories are formed, a place is added to the proverbial outdoor portfolio, and the opportunity to diversify options for maximized returns on our time spent in future seasons comes to be, whether the location provides a windfall or just a walk.

No matter what the forecast calls for or what memories of previous seasons suggest – a wet summer producing a long autumn, high flows making for record spawns or reports showing numbers of favorite upland birds are declining – what has happened before doesn’t necessarily dictate how things will turn out in the season to come, or on any given trip.  Sometimes we are forced to modify our plans, to try something new, to put forth the sweat equity to adjust to the elements and the data to find success.  The definition of that term too varies from person to person, from season to season, and from one phase of life to another. However, it’s defined in any given cycle – whether just the opportunity to be out there, the chance to take a shot, the ability to bag a few birds or stringer a few walleyes, to harvest the deer of a lifetime, or to catch a trophy bass – what has happened before is only a guide, what happens in the moment is a combination of environmental factors and a person’s mindset. 

In the coming season and the ones that follow after, consider the good times, the summers where rivers ran full of fish and fields were loaded with birds and hedge on those times when things were lower, when grass was sparser, and reports were less than rosy.  Know that with each outing, no matter how good things might be going, or how tough the conditions may be, much like the markets that move our world, past performance is not indicative of future results, and each trip is a new chance to invest…in our outdoors.

Simonson is the lead writer and editor of Dakota Edge Outdoors.

Featured Photo: Pay Dirt.  Where we’ve fished before often influences where we go in the future, based on memories of previous success. Simonson Photo.

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