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What Is a Trophy?

I am old-fashioned enough that I still have a Webster’s New World Dictionary sitting on my desk top at all times, it is directly off my right shoulder.  The internet is great and I use it for a lot of my “word needs”, definitions, spelling, synonyms, etc., but the good ole red, hard-covered dictionary is still a very useful tool.  If you look up the word “trophy” in that book, you will find a whole list of definitions.  I like the last one the best–a trophy is “anything serving as a reminder”.

I have always told folks that a trophy is what you make of it.  Naturally, there are standards such as Master Angler awards, state records, state citations, or record book recognition (e.g. Pope and Young Club), but I hope those are NOT the only standards by which folks judge trophies.  There are many fish that are caught that might not make some “master angler” or state record standards, but are trophies because they are special in some way.  For example, one of my most-prized catches was a 13-inch brook trout caught about this time of year from the south fork of Soldier Creek in Nebraska’s beautiful Pine Ridge.  That fish was with an even bigger brook trout, but when I spotted that male brook trout it was in full splendor spawning colors and I knew I wanted that fish!  I crawled on hands and knees to get into position to catch that fish without spooking it, and held my breath as it moved forward to take my bait.  Then I panicked after landing the fish and discovering my camera was out of film!  My photo processing shop was able to pull one frame of that fish off the very end of the roll of film–one of my most prized catch & release trophies!


Certain fish or game may be trophies because there were special people with whom we shared those successes.



Or maybe they were trophies because they were “firsts” or represented a hard-earned achievement.


DSCN2274Spend some time reflecting on your outdoor experiences, your outdoor successes.  Take time to appreciate every success as a “trophy”.  It is not always about the most or the biggest.  It IS about the best, best of times, best memories done in the right way.

The Omaha World Herald (OWH) has a trophy board.  The past couple of weeks I have opened up the hard copy version of the OWH on Mondays and found a lack of trophies, especially Nebraska trophies.  Spend some time thinking and see if you cannot come up with some trophies to share with folks, trophies that represent the best of what Nebraska’s outdoors has to offer, and share them with us, outdoors@owh.com .


About daryl bauer

Daryl is a lifelong resident of Nebraska (except for a couple of years spent going to graduate school in South Dakota). He has been employed as a fisheries biologist for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for 25 years, and his current tour of duty is as the fisheries outreach program manager. Daryl loves to share his educational knowledge and is an avid multi-species angler. He holds more than 120 Nebraska Master Angler Awards for 14 different species and holds more than 30 In-Fisherman Master Angler Awards for eight different species. He loves to talk fishing and answer questions about fishing in Nebraska, be sure to check out his blog at outdoornebraska.org.

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