The Rules of the Spot


The very existence of a sacred place is extraordinary. A dirty secret you know like a mistress you’ve had and held long before your wife first sparkled an eye in your direction. The look that she gives you that makes your knees sway. Her smell so intoxicating it builds a choking lump in your throat. That shimmer of glacial pool and a shore that lacks bipedal evidence. That unwrinkled and unsullied slice of perfection of a perfect blue eye. You get so used to the static beauty in a place like this. Our mortal coils shrink and wrinkle far faster than we wish, but these seductive places are lucky to escape decay in our short tenure among the breathing.

Thievery and contempt wrap my tongue on occasion. When I see pictures of a sacred place posted to an online outlet with a full description and location. When I see a picture that remains worldless in lettered description, yet the thousand words in the picture do far more than 140 characters ever could. Ridgelines, landmarks, terrain features. Dead give aways that will always end up with a puck in your own net. A lack of respect for something you fall in love with – that is what hurts me most when I see these sacred places sold out like celebrity nudes to TMZ.

Any person that isn’t a dimwit and has powerful feelings to find such a place can narrow it down in minutes, thanks to the poster’s unfettered sense of self-worth and lack of thought to what they’re exposing. Congratulations, you just fucked up something you thought was special and unique. You thought your selfie was gonna give you cred, but nope.. You just got Jagr’d. And now everyone who thought you were respectable and trustworthy finds a giant slug of contempt shot into their hearts.

I don’t write this for the people who know the Rules of the Spot. I don’t intend this to be for hunters and anglers alone. I’m just rehashing some things in writing that should have been written down a long, long time ago. It is our fault for being so human as to trust one another with these secrets, so why not spell it out so we all can own up to it? If you’re a new hunter or angler, or someone who just enjoys searching out the things not in the guidebook, unlisted on the trail map or spoken about in hushed tones – I’m doing you a huge fucking favor, so pay attention.

A new wave of people are out exploring the wild west on their own and bless them for it. The more people that find things they love in the wilderness the more people we have to protect them. It’s a double edged sword, as some places are sacred but threatened through development, greed, take your pick on the issue. And some of those places need to be touted and exposed for the ego destroying and insignificant human thoughts that they produce. These places are few and far between, and you will know them. And in those cases, loving them to death through promotion is one of the most effective tools we have to save them, though they may not be as whole nor will they produce the same fruit when the political gambit and media gong show are done with them. If the campaign to save them is successful the trees may be pruned but they will remain to produce fruit again. The simple fact that they remain, that they are there for us to visit, makes taking the luster off the shine palatable. These places may be public land but there are secrets and initiations that are central to their presence and vitality that we must swear upon.

To the fawn eyed outdoors crowd of nubiles and the weekend warriors who may not be conscious of what they tread upon just yet: I welcome you. You are the people that don’t fit in the traditional outdoors person pegs but identify with the outdoors and modern culture far easier and integrally than any of us traditionally labeled pegs can. You are the voices who will protect the most because you are the majority. I applaud the weekend explorer, the once a year sweat hiker, the chariots on which the torch of sacred places will be carried.

But some folks need to learn a few things. You may have found that hot spring or fishing hole by doing due diligence at Google Earth Guide School, and by God I have done this many times myself, but try not to give the damn thing away for nothing if you do in fact find it. Discretion is our weapon, and passivist hosts of the secret need not apply.

This piece is written for the hot spring sex pots, Travel-My-State promoters thieves, money bloggers and media out to make money and a name. Hey I don’t blame you, but fuck you with the instruments of all of the dirtiest demons from below if you sell out the majesty of these places and rob the true seekers of self adventure and discovery so you can get a few “likes” and maybe some free gear. Damn you to Golgotha if you prey upon other people’s boot leather to make a living. You can afford it, do it yourself. Then maybe you’ll be reluctant to destroy it through your BuzzFeed listicle. Go ahead and seek these places but do not sell the ephemeral experiences of multifaceted discovery into junk bonds for those who may not yet know of where you tread.

You know that friend who tells you the entire plot of a movie or show before you watch it?

Do you know how much you hate that son of a bitch for ruining the initial emotions for you? The cliffs, the deserts, the oasis tucked away? The suspense of the film and story line, the “What’s over the hill or around the next bend syndrome.” Don’t give them pills, crumbs, or an overarching sense of the greater narrative.

Don’t be one of them. The SPOILER ALERT people.

When you take a landscape portrait of a pretty spot in the boonies, when you describe your settings in the photo, and when you’re that god dammed waste of human that GEOTAGS it, you are the Spoiler Alert friend. You are a thief to our senses, a child who screams the answer before the question.

It’s not just a movie you’re ruining for someone who somehow is still your friend cause you’re an asshole.

You’re contributing to the ruin of an entire place and it’s charms. At the least you’re robbing a friend of the great experience you just had. At the most you could be ruining the fragile environment of a place, tampering with the entire ecosystem from a comfortable distance. There’s no delete button for that.

So here is my list of rules I’ve learned from both sides of this coin. I’ve trespassed and been trespassed upon. This isn’t about promotion, it’s about taking a public ownership. It’s on all of us to maintain the sanctity of what is ours.

The Rules of the Spot

  1. The Golden Standard – If someone takes you to one of their special spots – a fishing hole, a hot spring, a chukar spot, an elk spot – for whatever activity or purpose, You Do Not Go There WITHOUT The person who showed you, unless they told you it’s ok to do so without them. I learned this the hard way when I was an arrogant kid. I’ve lost friendships, partnerships, and jobs over this. On both sides of the coin.
  2. The Stripper Rule – Feel free to share, just don’t give it all away. We all get stoked when we expend our muscles and energy to find something in rumour, or even better something completely unexpected. Take your memories, your photos, your journals. But do not give that treasure away nor let it be stolen. You are robbing the thieves when you do this, which is somewhere in the 3.14 Pi radians of the Circles of Hell.
  3. Curiosity Killed the Sacred (And made it profane) – While I have been guilty of having said too much after having too many, I try to make outsider’s polite inquisitions as vague as possible.                                                                                                                    Example A: At a watering hole, you are approached by someone who looks like a chukar hunter. He or she asks you “So where do you go bird hunting?” The mind races for a moment, the geographic ego wishing to be stroked through the hippocampus receptors. But no, you will not give away the countless hours, boot soles, the Sweat Equity and dollars you spent gaining the knowledge they seek.                                                                                                                                                                        “Well, I usually head north.”                                                                                                 “North? Like Gerlach?”                                                                                                               “Yup, I just head north. It’s always a good time.”
  4. Don’t Cheat the Process – The missteps, misfortunes and triumphs of discovery are what make our time spent in the outdoors so precious. The SPOILER ALERT friend is not who you want to be. You’re cheating people out of the fundamental purpose of exploration. Discovering things unfettered is one of our last great privileges of the west.
  5. Sharing is Caring – If you have a trusted close friend who asks you about your experiences in a sacred place, you may feel obliged to share a little of the information. Do not sell out the plot or the punchline. Nor should you oversell the potential outcome. A finger on a map and a corner lipped smile will suffice. These kinds of friends should be able to be counted on a Simpson’s hand.

These steps may sound and seem rather draconian. I’ve had many “Oh fuck you” and “You’re an asshole” comments thrown my way for being what most would perceive less than helpful. But do not be swayed.

You earned these sacred spots. The amount of pleasure you get from toiling fruitlessly for miles and then stumbling upon whatever it is you seek cannot be quantified with a monetary value or your targeted number of social media likes that fills that black hole inside. If the spot was shared with you by someone who undoubtedly trusts you (or is a complete idiot), you now own not only a responsibility to the sacred nature of the spot, but also the trust that someone put in you to keep it that way.

The maps of our planet were drawn, detailed, and honed long before any of us were capable of wondering about the tiny overlooked places that all of us cherish. They will all be gone one day no matter what we do, as our impermanence only gives us a short window to seek out, discover and enjoy these places. The seeking is where the magic lies. In a world that is increasingly cleansing itself of magical feeling, let’s do our part to ensure discovery internal and geographic remains potent for as long as we draw breath. Forget the GPS or where you left it. Remember that Google Earth is the great equalizer.

You wouldn’t pull your panties off on prom night, so why sacrifice something much more grandiose and fleshly eternal?

Chastised excitement has always been the measuring rod. Don’t put your pounds into grams for a few pennies. Expect the work you put in and don’t sell it short.

Now, where’s your chukar spot?


15 responses to “The Rules of the Spot

  1. Haven’t you posted on this same subject like five times? We get it… you are the elitist, all-knowing and all-powerful bird hunting fly tying master final boss. This massive circle jerk of a post perfectly personifies this mindset. This is just more evidence of your “us against them” mentality. These goddamn kids! They’re ruining it for ME! Takin goddamn fuckin pics of my goddamn fishin hole and posting it on myspace goddamnit! GET THE FUCK OF MY LAWN!

    I love how you act like you don’t get moist when people consult you about this shit. I bet its super annoying to have people come to you when they want to develop a new hobby that you constantly post pictures and stories of yourself doing, making sure to emphasize how fucking great you are and how stupid everyone else is. “But don’t ask me about it or else you’re a tool. Even though I constantly advertise myself as the best person to ask.” Are you starting to recognize the hypocrisy?

    Having plenty of my own secret hunting/fishing spots, I must admit that I really do agree with you on the majority of issues you brought up, but dude you have got to chill the fuck out. Let people do their thing. If it makes people feel good to find a hotspring online and drive five hours to post pics of themselves drinking wine with their feet up, good for them. And if someone else gets butthurt that another guy is posting pics of his spots, well then he can eat a dick while he sulks off to circle jerk with his elitist brethren. Belittling people like this is petty and naïve, this is the world we live in. I have no bad blood with you, but dude, your massive ego is getting the best of you.

    If you’re going to play the roll of greatest all time supreme leader #1, you have to embrace everything that comes with it.

    • I’m glad you brought this up Ryan. First off, this isn’t about me or my lawn. I should have framed the context further in the beginning. This was spawned from many people bitching to me about how their favorite spots are being overrun, and they didn’t realize that they were the number one contributor to their own disdain. What’s hypocritical is people not owning up to it. I’ve done it, we all have. And as the world shrinks and these places become less and less, there’s more of an incentive to keep them special. I’m not telling anyone to stay home, get off the lawn, etc. I want people to go out explore and find these things on their own, because that’s where the fun lies. And I have always encouraged it. When I get X amount of messages from strangers asking me where to go I tell them how I found those spots – Homework, boot work, sweat equity, and a little luck. I don’t give them the raw shoulder, and I don’t ever discourage them.
      I don’t know if we are reading the same lines here. I’m trying to convey that you must protect your spots if you want them to remain, I’m not telling anybody to stay home or quit. Apparently I failed to get that across to you, which is your prerogative and that’s fine, as well as if I come across to you as an egomaniac asshole. At least I bring up the subject and stir the pot, cause everybody else is tip-toeing around the edges of these awkward issues.
      This isn’t about me, this isn’t about being an elitist. This is about keeping special places special, and not giving them away.
      Thanks for your comment and good luck on the draw.

  2. Thank you for replying! When I read back over my comment it definitely comes off a bit more aggressive than I had intended. I was mainly trying to highlight my disdain for the “nationalistic” type of attitude that people tend to get over their spots (Us v them/outsiders are evil). An attitude that I don’t appreciate running into when I’m out doing my thing in the field. And I did indeed find my own agenda in your post, an agenda that I had long before you wrote this. You saying, “…about how their favorite spots are being overrun, and they didn’t realize that they were the number one contributor to their own disdain” is a much better way of describing one of the main points of my comment. And I definitely appreciate a good stirring of the pot, we don’t get far if we don’t get out of our comfort zone.

    I think a good part of this piece went right over my head. I found what I was looking for and thats about it.

    Great writing per usual.


    • Well I also wrote the piece in a bit of an angry mood so that doesn’t help things. I could have parsed this out better. But I won’t run from criticism and views that oppose my own. We don’t grow or get anywhere by doing that. So thank you for saying what you feel. Next beer is on me.

  3. I’ve been given spots. But I’ve never gone to any of them. The entire point to the chase…is the chase. This isn’t Primos or Douche Commander. Its real life, and feeling out a new state, region, or place takes time. Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes it takes years. But the harder you work, the more accomplished and fulfilled you’ll be when you finally succeed. Do it the hard way, maps, harvest reports, and tire/boot tread. Don’t cheat yourself. And when asked for your spot, pull the MOF line…”Giffy butte”.

  4. Don’t go on a weekend. Find a new spot. Do your homework. Fish and game are usually good guys to talk to. If someone asks you, give them generalizations not specific locations. Sweet spots usually are surrounded by plenty of other sweet spots. Don’t be stupid and leave beer cans everywhere.

  5. Having moved about the northern rockies a fair bit, I have often had to seek out new ground and waters in strange country. At times, I have hated it, other times I love it when a hunch or just dumb luck pan out. I share some places, others I have not. One concept is the “changing baselines” – what newcomers experience now is their baseline, not ours from ten, twenty, thirty years ago. While playing bumper boats on the Bitterroot, Madison and Henrys Fork might seem normal now, I still have a hard time accepting it. But, the increasing numbers of people enjoying these areas can certainly lead to more voices trying to protect. Heck, that is the discussion we had about whitewater kayaking on the Lochsa in the 80’s. Get out and enjoy – my wife and I have made it a game to find those places on holiday weekends we can still be alone.

  6. I am embarrassed I let a well-known Montana photographer run roughshod over me and some of my best bird coverts before I finally woke up. Over the course of three years, we hunted six of my spots and zero of his. Thank God for called ID.

    Heck, my Dad and I even handle the other’s honey hole with the Rules of the Spot. He won’t hunt my blue grouse ridges without me and vice versa. He is 70, but I don’t see me inheriting them anytime soon.

  7. Evening Larry, I’m officially in the mix on here. I’ve read this post a couple times now and have shared it to the needed in efforts to render their left handed path maybe starting fires in doing so but you’ll have that. Thanks for writing on this subject. Best wishes, see ya soon. Trapper Ritz

  8. I might humbly add one more… when you move away from an area, it does not give you license to spill the beans and reveal all your secret spots to the computer world on the one way asshole premise that you won’t be needing them anymore. Take that shit to the next town and then to the grave.

  9. Larry, Glad to see you back. I enjoyed the post. As always, you climbed inside my head abit in writing it. It gets frustrating in the Northeast the same as it does in the West I’m sure. If it isn’t the blog writers themselves whoring out the last few secluded fishing gems, its the commenters who just cant pass up an opportunity to tell everyone how well they did last night in X or Y spot. There is literally no explanation for why a human would do this other than the quick 3 second ego stroking that comes along with afew strangers knowing you caught some fish. Or in the writers case, perhaps a free orvis rod…maybe even an extra client to guide once in awhile. In my humble opinion, its pathetic. No one wants to put in boot work anymore. Everyone just wants to load up the car… check afew sources of info on the interwebs…set the gps…and be on top of loads of fish in the best spots possible. The satisfaction of finding a beautiful, wild spot on your own seemingly has little value. Maybe its the fear of striking out, maybe its just laziness. In the meantime, cling tightly to those spots that you can pull up to knowing there wont be anyone else parked…enjoy those full days of solitude….they are fading fast in this digital age we live in.


  10. I endorse this message and feel these rules should be taught in the grade schools of all western states and northern provinces.

    Write more.

    Logan Couture is still a punk.

    • I’m on it.

      And Cooch is our ugly little brother “Rat Boy”. We have a lot of good nice boys on the hockey club, like Brent Burns. YOU sir, YOU have Milan Lucic AND the Human Turtle Boy aka the Nuge.

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