The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

April 1, 2012

The unofficial national holiday

April Fools’ Day can be just as fun for sportsmen as anyone else

By Chris Ellis
For The Register-Herald

— Today is a light-hearted day we simply refer to as April Fools’ Day. The origins of the non-national holiday are uncertain and information is a little sketchy. Some say it started as a celebration related to the turn of the seasons, while others believe it stems from the adoption of a new calendar.

One theory is based on France changing its calendar in the 1500s so that the New Year would begin in January to match the Roman calendar instead of beginning at the start of spring. However, word of the change traveled slowly, and many people living out in the sticks continued to celebrate the New Year in the spring. These country dwellers became known as “April fools.”

Others disagree with that theory and believe April Fools’ Day grew from many of the age-old European spring festivals of renewal. Apparently, pranks and jokes at the festivals were common.

Nonetheless, April Fools’ Day is observed throughout the Western world and is a day of fun, including sending someone on a silly errand, looking for things that don’t exist, playing pranks and trying to get people to believe ridiculous things. Frankly, I find it hilarious.

What does April Fools’ Day have to do with the outdoors and sportsmen? The simple answer is, everything. Who better to pull a prank on than your hunting and fishing buds that you know so well and have inside knowledge of what really torques them off? You know how to push their buttons and today is the day to let your skills shine.

Just in case the holiday snuck up on you, here are some last-minute fun ideas to brighten the day and to lovingly say, “Thanks for being such a valued friend,” to the ones you care about the most. A side note: Your kids and spouse are fair game too. 

The Inside the Outdoors April Fools’ Approved Pranks

Fake-Out Prank. Perfect for your friend who is nervous by nature.  Grab a Sharpie and write “April Fools!” on a piece of paper. Prominently display the masterpiece in your buddy’s truck and sit back and do nothing. He will go nuts worrying about what you did. Don’t give up your secret of nothing until deep into the evening. 

Brown Paper Bag in the Fridge Trick. The break room at work makes a nice setting for this prank. Grab a lunch bag, duct tape the seams tight and write something comical on it. Perhaps “Live Maggots,” “Catfish Giblets,” “Deer Urine” or “Turkey Stool Samples” will fit nicely for the simple prank. 

Tackle Box Take-Over. With a little planning, grab your bud’s tackle box and a bottle of super glue. Place a drop of the potent liquid in the eye of the hooks and snap rings on the crank baits. The next time your ol’ bud tries to tie on a tube jig, the fun begins. Try and be present at the viewing for an added bonus.

What was that? For the bud who is in love with his truck a little too much, slip a balloon over his tailpipe. When he fires the rig up in the morning, the exhaust will inflate the balloon until it goes, “BANG!” Repeat daily until he is convinced that the motor is shot and makes an appointment at the service garage.

Cell Phone Junkie. We all know one; someone who can’t live without their phone. Next time you are together fishing on a bass boat, sneak the phone away, put the ringer on vibrate and duct tape it under a seat in the boat. Once the phone is noticed to be missing, continue calling their number until they go insane trying to figure out where the buzzing is coming from.

Waders Won’t Fit. Just before you arrive at the creek, find a way to slip some toilet-paper in the toe-end of your partner’s wading boots. Upon arrival at the fishing waters, jump out and start fishing, trying to keep a straight face while holding back a severe case of belly-laughing. In the heat of the fishing passion, your partner will have a time trying to figure out why the waders won’t fit. Even funnier is when they ignore the problem and try to fish through it. A great conversation starter for the ride home.

Deer Scat Snack. Next time you are hunting mushrooms with a friend, discreetly drop a handful of Raisinets along the trail. Stop abruptly, pick up a couple of the deer-droppings-look-a-like candies and proudly declare how good they are for a mid-morning snack. Keep walking and don’t ever tell your secret.

Happy April Fools’ Day, everyone, and remember to set aside some time to share the joy with others on this fine holiday.