Off the Beaten Path: Dear Fish and Game: Please create a Board of Outdoor Fashion

An obese brown bear in Southeast Alaska.

Today, I’m proposing the revolutionary creation of a board of outdoor fashion. The idea came to me in the depths of winter while I was reflecting on what a strange year 2016 has been. Outdoorsmen and women, myself included, across the state and country are suffering serious identity crises. Everybody is wondering what sort of year 2017 will be for outdoor fashion.


Outdoor internet forums are buzzing with gossip and cautionary tales. Some believe we need stricter regulations and have even started a movement called “No More Camo Muffin-tops.” Others are fed up with peer pressure, body shaming and marketing propaganda and created a counter movement called “Free the Crack.”

An online post about a guy who was bullied for wearing camo sequin at a campfire has 50,000 shares. Internet trolls have taken to OMGing, LOLing and WTFing with a vengeance. Lines are being drawn. Alliances are being formed. Outdoor clothing designers and models are being assassinated at a dizzying rate.

Many believe the deadly game of outdoor fashion dates back to before the Pleistocene when on a cold day Eve made fun of Adam, likely because he had goosebumps on his cut abs. The next thing you know Adam was wearing snakeskin hiking boots and dressed head to toe in the very first designer label of swanky outdoor wear. For eons after, outdoor fashion has been the woolly mammoth in the living cave.

Look at Davy Crockett. The outdoor icon wore a raccoon on his head, something most outdoorsmen today will tell you is a big fashion no-no. Yet, when Crockett walked down the streets of Washington and sat in the halls of Congress, he inspired thousands of city folks to wear both living and dead critters on their heads. The possum look became all the rave on the New York scene.

President Andrew Jackson — likely due to Crockett’s opposition to many of his bills — tried to counter Crockett with a line of faux fur hats. This turned into quite the battle which led to the first attempt to create a Board of Outdoor Fashion. It failed to pass in Congress by the length of a wildcat’s whisker.

What’s fashionable should haunt anyone more than all other existential questions, yet most Alaskans don’t seem to care what the rest of the world thinks. Many fish and hunt in their sweatpants. Some never change their clothes at all. One of my friends wears striped fleece pajamas to commercial fish, to bed, to weddings and on wilderness expeditions. I once watched her gaff a 300-plus pound halibut in them. Imagine the photo opportunity and potential media buzz if she’d been decked out in Gucci, covered in fish slime and blood.

What Alaska needs is a Board of Outdoor Fashion to make hard yet altruistic decisions and lead our state back to greatness. My first proposal to the Board would be a mandate that everyone who hunts Sitka black-tails has to wear a faux bear cub hat, a camo singlet and knee-high leather boots.

After the Board of Outdoor Fashion fixes our current crisis, I propose for 2018 they address all the drab wildlife running around in the woods and swimming in the sea. I have a long list of suggestions but here’s just a few.

Sea lions. Their fur just doesn’t have enough flair. A pair of Prada sunglasses and a mink fur coat would make all the difference.

I want more spots on spotted owls.

Salmon should have tattoos written in Sanskrit and calligraphy to remind us to be deep and wise every time we catch one.

Every animal with antlers should have LED lights attached to bring more good cheer to the wilderness.

I’ve noticed a lot of overweight bears, especially in the fall. Many believe the bears of Southeast are suffering an obesity epidemic. We should subtly brainwash them into having body image issues so they’ll starve themselves and look more chiseled and defined.


Bjorn Dihle

• Bjorn Dihle is a Juneau writer. Check out the preview of his first book, “Haunted Inside Passage,” and follow him at


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