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The Practical Sportsman - Fred will be missed!


Dear Woods-N-Water News:

Readers Digest has a section in their publication called "The Most Unforgettable Character I Have Ever Met." Fred Trost would have to qualify in my eyes as one such person.

I met Fred, along with his sidekick, Tim Ferrigan, shooting sporting clays at Orchard Hill Sporting Clays in Bark River. Tim had on a down-filled jacket that had some slight tears and feathers would pop out and float away when he shot at the targets. I asked Fred if Tim was "molting" and we laughed during the round to Tim's chagrin.

Fred had a unique sense of humor and always had a retort for any subject no matter who said it. His television show "The Practical Sportsman" lasted for quite a few years on PBS, but seemed to lose popularity in the later years due to the content. One segment featured "sportsmen and the law" and showed various scenarios depicting potential hunting, fishing and trespass violations that were not particularly crystal clear and how the average sportsperson could be ticketed for certain violations.

The DNR was another favorite target that Fred challenged on many occasions and he questioned a good deal of their policies and procedures.

A major blow to the Practical Sportsman program was a lawsuit that was filed against them for questioning the credibility of a product. The court favored for the product manufacturer and the financial and political fallout was harsh. Fred weathered the storm and decided that this experience would guide him to law school and become an attorney, which he eventually did. He represented mostly sportspersons that needed counsel going to court to defend hunting, fishing and trespass violations. His show became less and less popular and it appeared the viewers were not interested in the law and wanted to see more hunting and fishing segments and more information on new products and techniques.

My senior friend Bob Cox, who has claimed to have hunted the woolly mammoth, did not like any of the hunting and fishing shows that showed hunting scenes "behind the fence" as he referred to it.

I think the older generation preferred to watch conventional hunting with traditional equipment and methods and the younger generation preferred the "high tech" equipment utilizing scent-lok suits, GPS units, ATVs, carbon arrows, new caliber guns etc. Fred was more interested in depicting the hunter or fisherman in their simplest, most traditional and most importantly, practical form; turtle hunting with your bare hands, catching suckers in the spring, how to clean a squirrel, taking kids fishing and fishing with live hellgrammites. One of Fred's most popular shows was the first time he fished with hellgrammites. He was shown standing on the shore with a live hellgrammite in his hands unaware of the awesome pincers they possess. Lo and behold the hellgrammite clamped down on his thumb and to the glee of his viewers, he jumped and screamed all over the parking lot holding his thumb.

Fred always interviewed everyday "Joe Lunchbucket" sportspersons and asked them about their methods and techniques and always made sure he acknowledged young boys and girls when they appeared with their parents on his show. I liked Fred Trost because he represented to me what I think fishing and hunting should be. It should be about having fun with your family and friends, enjoying the great outdoors in its simplest form without the need for "high tech" equipment and not necessarily filling your game bag or creel every time. Some of my most memorable hunts produced just great memories and no fish or game.

I will miss Fred and hopefully many will remember his legacy to the outdoors and be a practical sportsman.

Paul Polanski
August 22, 2007

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