January 10, 2005

Undercover

smmoose.jpgWe set off for Cabela's to pursue a huge sale on Gore-Tex. That material is de rigeur for canoe camping in the Boundary Waters, since it appears true that it is always raining there. When it is not snowing that is. We used to receive the Cabela's catalog when we lived in Dunsmuir, and I remember wondering why they sent it to me, since I had never gone hunting in my entire life.

The good folks at the Pioneer Press had published an Outdoor Holiday Buying Guide, wherein various outdoorsy folks typed up the gifts they would like to give and receive. This was included in one of the free newspapers we get every so often in a losing attempt to win back our business. One of the people in the guide mentioned the Gore-Tex from Cabela's, at a price that was less than half what REI or LLBean has it for. After debating the pros and cons of driving 60 miles to Owatonna versus ordering through the internet, we took off for Cabela's fairly early, if not too bright.

smbufwolf.jpgAlong the way, we passed a mega strip mall which hosted a Gander Mountain. Gander Mountain is another hunting and fishing catalog like Cabela's, but without the caché. Once we exited I-35 and took a look inside Gander Mountain, it was easy to see that they lacked caché. They had a lot of camo furniture on display, and the prices were not that great. Not a stitch of out of season stuff was stocked. Much of the floorspace was occupied with what can be best described as "dreck": clocks and ceramic figures of labs and golden retrievers, acrylic throws, and ice-fishing setups displayed in plastic boats. There were people there, for sure, but it was not bustling inside.

Cabela's on the other hand, was something of a madhouse: in the parking lot, SUV's and pickup trucks competed to take up more space. A "Viet Nam Veterans Against Kerry" bumper sticker was displayed on the truck we parked next to. People funneled toward the entrance, which was marked by an enormous canopy. Assembled tree-stands stood out in the snow alongside mock trees, though each carried a sign telling would-be shoppers not to climb on them.

smbears.jpgInside the store, which was mobbed with people, a ring of deer trophies perhaps 30 feet across greeted us. Elk trophies were mounted on the wall above, drawing our eyes back to the 30 foot high mountain diorama at the back of the store. I could hardly keep up with Roomie once she was drawn into the mountain's orbit. There were stuffed bears (brown, black, grizzly and polar), lynx, bobcats, javelinas, red fox, grey fox, arctic fox, bull-moose battling, wolves gnashing at buffalo and chasing deer off a cliff, and the most elusive prey of all—grey squirrels. As we circled the mountain, I was both horrfied by the waste of life and the thought of the needless suffering of these poor creatures while at the same time appreciative that this was the closest I would ever come to seeing any of these animals alive. Except for the squirrel.

I was intrigued by the display of camo baby clothes across the aisle from the mountain. An entire line of them were embroidered with "Daddy's Little Deer" across the bib. A generous interpretation is that camo is appropriate for both boys and girls, but the double-gendered phrase is possibly confusing. Daddy is out shooting deer, isn't he? "Look at Daddy's other deer, bleeding all over the back of the pickup, tongue hanging out, eye gazing at the sun."

Lest you think that a trip to Cabela's converted me to militant veganism, I should note that I left the store with not only an armful of Gore-Tex (two suits costing me less than one complete set from the competition), but a rabbit fur lined hat. I wore it, tags and all, right out of the store.

Posted by webs0080 at January 10, 2005 7:25 AM