Love thy gear, or love the pursuit?

Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.


Many people suffer from something called GAS. For those that don’t know, it stands for Gear Acquisition Syndrome. The acronym is often used in the photography world because photographers constantly need something they don’t have.

Yes, the outdoors world suffers the same symptoms as well. Go to any archery competition and Vegas would put good odds that the majority of the competitors will constantly talk about how they would do if they had a different release, used a different arrow or vane, or even a new bow. It is probably just human nature, to be honest.

Of course it isn’t limited to competition. Hunters get wide-eyed for a new carbon scent controlled, mosquito and rain-proof camouflaged ghillie suit that comes in three different must-have patterns. Or perhaps the new bolt action with gas-chambered recoil control in synthetic graphite composite causing it to weigh less than the ammunition that is in the magazine.

And don’t forget anglers. A sport in which you can literally catch just about anything as long as you have a hook, line and bait may require the most gear if you ask one who is dedicated to his passion. Think about it. Not only does and angler “need” a composite one-piece graphite rod that is strong as steel yet as giving as a rubber band, he also has to have a line that cannot be seen, tangle-proof, snag-free, and able to lift 500 pounds. Attached to the line needs to be a lure that mimics a baitfish of choice in distress but not dead, that includes sound wave technology and scent-emitting pores.

Add to that, a boat that can float even if it is filled with three times too much weight and water, with a motor that can get it from point A to point B in reverse time and a computerized doppler fish finder that projects a hologram to the angler of the surface below as well as a hologram in the water of more baitfish to attract larger catches.

Yes, that same angler also has to have a trailer with automatic backing features for the boat when it isn’t in the water and a self-driving truck that can pull said boat through the harshest environments, steepest hills and ramps and bumpiest roads while seeming to glide on air for the occupants.

So the question of the day is this. Does gear make one happy, or does the actual activity make one happy?

Years ago, there was a man in my home area (we didn’t live in town, so the same part of the county would be a better description) that absolutely loved fishing. If the weather permitted, and sometimes when it didn’t, it was a guarantee that Dennis would have a line wet.

Now it could just be my memory, but I don’t ever recall seeing Dennis without a smile on his face. If he wasn’t fishing, it was only because he had to work. His worked just so he could fish. It was a given.

Now you have to ask yourself when you come across people that are always smiling, “what makes them so happy?” We find out a lot about people now with social media being so prevalent, as we can spot those that we think are happy complaining about everything. But there are a few that are always perfectly content, sometimes even ecstatic about life.

The answer likely falls into the category of ‘they found what they love.’ Few people find that, unfortunately.

As far as Dennis, I believe he was as happy sitting on a five-gallon bucket beside the lake with a cane pole and earthworms as he was when he was casting for largemouth. To Dennis, life was fishing. To Dennis, fishing was life. It is what made him happy.

Rather than more gear, maybe happiness is the thing we should strive to acquire.