I went to Bass Pro over thanksgiving weekend. Now, Bass Pro is an enormous (two storey) hunting supply store. The reason I went there is I have a friend with a weakness for army gear (you know who you are).
I wondered if I would get some army gear there, you know: combat boots, camouflage pants, that sort of thing. Turns out they don’t have much in the way of army gear, but they do have a whole lot of everything else.
I drove only about 10 miles away from where I live to nearby Dalrock and took the Bass Pro turnoff to Bass Pro drive. Yes, the store is so big, they named the road after it. I pulled up to the parking lot and was surprised at how busy it was. Sure, it was Thanksgiving Saturday, of course everyone will be out bargain hunting with the kids (pun intended).
As I entered the store I was amused to see a sign which read: “Please check all firearms and bows at customer service”. I laughed audibly. Now, in New Zealand this goes without saying. In fact, I would be so bold as to say it’s generally assumed that patrons are not carrying concealed guns or crossbows on their person at any time. New Zealanders are very particular about deadly weapons in public. I have fond memories of being severely questioned by University security at the University of Auckland because a concerned citizen had seen me walking down the road brandishing a bread knife. I brandished the knife before me and explained I had used to cut cake. It still had the crumbs on it.
So, I took a picture of the sign and entered the store with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. I was excited at the prospect of having another American culture experience, but a little anxious at what I might find.
The first thing you notice about the place is the fact that it is decidedly reminiscent of a hunters lodge. That’s what prompted the title for this post. It’s from Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls. At one point in the movie, Ace enters a room filled with animal trophies and that was his response: “this is a lovely room of death”. That was the feeling welling up inside me as I gawked sadly at all the magnificent dead animals throughout the store. Especially the foxes, I love foxes.
So I wondered around the store taking photos like the tourist I am, trying to capture the ambiance of the place, as I walked it became clear to me that it was a foreign cultural experience for me. For me, walking around in a hunting supply store is like a redneck walking around in a gay bar. It was surreal, full of surprises and frightening possibilities.
I hate to dredge up stereotypes but I did see a great many that day. Mullets never went out of fashion, they just came to Texas.
I was constantly reminded that this definitely was a cultural experience and as such I was in for one or two surprises.
At one point I was walking past the weapons section and I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye, someone was leveling a rifle. I turned in shock, visceral instinct kicking in as I made the split second decision between flight or fight. The customer just have me an odd look as though I was mad. That’s not something I think I would ever get used to. I walked down shelves lined with live ammunition towards the gun section. The image on the right shows gin safes on one side, gun accessories on the other and in the distance if you look carefully, you can see rifles for sale behind the counter.
I walked up to the counter and asked if I could take pictures of the guns. The people behind the counter were very friendly though a little bemused at my amazement. I took pictures of the rifles but those are boring now, after all, they sell those at Wal Mart. What really fascinated me were the hand guns. The guns shown here are called Glocks and are standard police issue around the world. It’s a strange feeling when you walk into what amounts to a leisure goods store and see police hand guns for sale. Sure it’s a hunting store, but what, in all honesty, do you hunt with a Glock?
I continued my tour, surreptitiously taking shots of things like clothing, fishing poles and fishing rod handles. Bass Pro also sports an impressive range of bows and arrows, probably for hunting large game. I guess the bow and arrow hunting has a little more physicality to it and a lot more craftsmanship, like fishing. I can understand the appeal somewhat.
I was actually a little tempted by the fishing gear since I love to fish. I don’t like to catch fish because it’s generally messy and usually involves killing, but there’s a certain simple peacefulness in casting and reeling which I enjoy.
I walked downstairs. On my right was scenery that amounted to nothing less than a taxidermist’s wet dream: a very elaborate story told almost entirely with stuffed animals. On my left, some children played a game where they shot toy guns at stuffed squirrels and birds. At the bottom of the stairs was the boating goods store, the floor was littered with large pleasure speed boats with all the trimmings. I circled a number of times then re-emerged to take in the rest of the store from above.
The images below make up a lazy panoramic shot of the store’s lower floor:
I felt like I should buy something from the store, having already exploited them for material for my blog. I eventually settled on the nicest thing I could find in the store: it was ironically a stuffed fox, the pretend kind. He keeps me company now.