• Finesse Adds Zest

    Many people find their sport or activity is more fun when done with finesse.

    A good example of finesse is paddling a canoe or kayak when a motorboat would get you to your destination so much faster. It can be very enjoyable paddling quietly down a wilderness stream, making little more noise than a beaver or wading heron. Compare that to chugging downriver with a big inboard motor. Sure the motor is better for transporting equipment and more practical to get a heavy load of supplies to a wilderness camp but we’re not talking about doing a job here, we’re talking about a pleasant leisure trip where nature can be enjoyed.

    According to Webster’s dictionary, finesse can be described as a subtle contrivance, stratagem or artifice. It also means dexterity, artfulness or skill.

    To me it is using a technique that improves the pleasure by raising the skill level or effort required and increasing the challenge.

    Cycling over car travel is an example of pleasure and simplicity over technology and even if some new bicycles cost as much as some old cars the point is still valid, the effort required to travel by bicycle puts it in the finesse category to me.

    In almost every harbour on the Great Lakes, sailboats of all sizes enjoy the wind and waves of our inland seas. These wind-driven crafts are manned and owned by people practicing finesse.

    Gun hunters seeking game use skill and technique to bring down birds and animals for both sport and meat but more of these hunters turn to bow and arrow hunting every year, enjoying the increased pleasure that comes their way when the challenge is increased tenfold. Some even use traditional longbows, perhaps the ultimate challenge when hunting big game.

    The early Christmas Birding challenges used to consist of shooting the most species of wild birds in one day but now birders have chosen to seek the ultimate challenge; spotting a bird species for the first time (lifers) and then spotting a bird species before anyone else in their peer group sees it. A lot of fun without doing anyone any harm.

    Some outdoors lovers even go so far as to camp with minimal help from modern conveniences, cooking over an open fire, eating traditional food like bannock and dried venison and living for a short while as our Bruce and Grey pioneers and native people did in the 17th century. Sure, it’s far more comfortable to live in an aluminum trailer with a fridge and stove but comfort isn’t the point, it’s finesse and the sweet feeling of getting along as simple as possible.
    Fishing is another finesse sport with the most skill required to excel at practicing the earliest example of the sport. Fly-fishing is to me the ultimate expression of fishing finesse. To catch one of the smartest and most beautiful freshwater fish in our finest streams with little more than a clump of feathers and fur is far more rewarding than catching a dozen fish while surrounded with electronic aids and motorized devices.

    But let’s not kid ourselves, We can afford classy sailboats, magnesium or aluminum bicycles, fancy graphite fly rods, Osage Orange traditional bows, long range spotting scopes, Kevlar canoes and trips to exotic places thanks to modern technology and our modern life style. The finesse we enjoy is done with a little tongue-in-cheek and every one of us practicing finesse is playing a little game to make things more fun.

    For me, the chance to hunt African Cape Buffalo with a bow and arrow would be the most exciting hunting adventure in the world, a dream come true. I know it will never happen, it would take a miracle to make such a hunt possible and another miracle to bring me home again in one piece. But oh, think of the finesse!

    Grant Ferris
    Grey/Bruce Outdoors