I probably don’t need to tell you anything more about the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe. The news isn’t good in a lot of places and it is likely to get worse before it gets better.
As COVID-19 infection and fatality numbers continue to rise in Texas, Oklahoma and beyond, getting through this storm will take a little something extra from all of us. Or quite possibly, it will take a lot of “extra” from all of us here in Texomaland.
With that thought in mind, if you’re fortunate enough to avoid getting the illness and are able to keep your job, why not do what you can to help someone else who is less fortunate?
Take this e-mail, for instance, one I received on Thursday afternoon from Bill and Chris Carey and the guides at Striper Express:
“Greetings from the lake,” wrote Bill. “Thought we would check in and see how everyone is holding up. These are uncertain times. What is certain for us is the safety and the needs of many of our neighbors, our friends and certainly the real needs of those on the front lines of this pandemic.
“I understand why our leaders are taking such drastic actions. A timeline shows how severe this could be without such actions. We at Striper Express believe in giving back. Everyone is chipping in, donating food to a needy family with hungry teens. Our crew has donated to Change.org that helps provide health providers with masks, gloves and respirators. There are many pandemic relief funds that pledge to use the entirety of its donations to fight the medical, social and economic impact of Covid-19. We can all chip in. This is our message of hope and goodwill. Hang in there folks, this (too) shall pass.”
I’ll add something else to Bill’s suggestions above – if you can spare some extra dollars right now, why not do what you can to help a favored guide on Lake Texoma, Lake Ray Roberts, or wherever it is that you like to go fishing?
Why such a suggestion? Because a number of guides are seeing booked calendar dates evaporate quickly as the pandemic onslaught coincides with the beginning of spring fishing for striped bass, largemouths and crappie.
Local guides aren’t the only ones hurting, mind you. Alvin Dedeaux, a well-known fly fishing guide on the Texas Gulf Coast and near Austin, has shuttered his operation for now. A friend who is a trout fishing guide in the Rocky Mountains has seen most of his April and May trips cancel, outings booked well in advance by a lot of folks here in Texas and Oklahoma. And a fishing guide friend near Miami is struggling too, right when saltwater action should be heating up.
Certainly, there are plenty of others who are starting to hurt in the outdoors industry, people who could use a little extra help right now.
Maybe it’s a local tackle shop that you like to frequent, one that has been shut down because it’s a so-called non-essential business. Or a lakeside café you eat breakfast at before every fishing trip. Or maybe a local restaurant that you frequent on visits to your deer lease. Or possibly even a fall hunting guide who is trying to get ready for next season and/or guide hunters for turkeys and hogs this spring.
The point is that almost everyone in the outdoors industry is or will be hurting soon. It’s a tight-margin industry that thrives on people that like to hunt and fish, love to travel and buy gear, and enjoy spending time — and money — in the great outdoors.
In many instances, your favorite big company is likely to successfully struggle its way through all of this, coming out somewhere on the other side of the storm. But as the COVID-19 crisis deepens, the financial crunch will be devastating to many locals and small businessmen who depend on the outdoors to make a living.
With families to feed, mortgages that are due, bills to pay, and the economic uncertainty that most of us are facing, the unfortunate truth is that some guides and outdoor businesses will not be able to survive the pandemic shutdown even if they somehow manage to elude the most serious effects of the virus itself.
I’m not sure how you can best help these guides and businesses, but I’d imagine the options are many.
Maybe it’s a curbside visit (if regulations allow) to your favorite local tackle supplier. Or a phone order for some new lures from a regional tackle shop like Lake Fork Trophy Lures in Emory. Or maybe it’s a new batch of Lunch Money flies from Matt Bennett, the Hill Country fly tying guru who goes by the handle FlyGeekMatt on Instagram. Perhaps it’s an online order for a new fly line or hat from Tailwaters Fly Shop in Dallas or Living Waters Fly Fishing in Round Rock.
It could be booking a future guided hunting or fishing trip now and not later. Or buying a gift certificate that can be used months from now or given in December as a Christmas gift. Or maybe even sending a gift card that will help someone out in the here and now for groceries, supplies, and dare I say it, toilet paper.
However you choose to give a little bit extra, let your imagination run wild on how you can help your favorite guide, outfitter, or outdoors business survive this pandemic storm.
As Bill Carey said in the e-mail quoted above, one day, this too shall pass.
And when it does, we’ll come out, squint into the shining sun, and roll up our sleeves to make the outdoors world great again.
In the meantime, do you have a dollar or two to spare? There’s a guide or businessman who probably needs it.