You often hear the phrase there is nothing more important than a friend but like many other clichés of life especially at today’s pace, many of these old time sayings are said without really understanding their meaning. As I look back at the past five decades of my life spent in blue water and at my hunting career which has taken me all over the globe, I lift both hands in front of me and start counting off the friends which I could call at any time day or night for help; those who would put their life in jeopardy to save mine, or for that matter those who I can count on in the absolute worst of situations.
You know what is amazing, I can’t use all ten fingers. I can only get to seven. So what is it after being a public figure, having my own TV show for ten years, having fished and hunted just about everywhere in the world for everything that swims or has hooves, how is it that I can only come up with seven super friends. I think the reason is quite simple. Friendship among men is often judged by the worst of times, not the best of times.
When being charged by a Cape buffalo and being absolutely defenseless with a longbow in my hands and wooden arrows, and having your backup gun and guide stand his ground dispatching 1500 pounds of buffalo at less than ten feet from killing you, a bond is formed for life.
When getting caught in a Northeaster blowing 50 knots in 18 foot seas, a fishing partner who doesn’t lose his cool and keeps the task saving the passengers onboard also presents an absolute mark upon the term loyalty and grace under pressure.
Looking back over the years of big game hunting and fishing many men which have been my friends have literally fallen apart when the going got tough. This action of cowardness does not mean that these people are not my friends today but they certainly not one of my best seven.
The reader of this may feel I am being cruel but nature dishes up many situations that require extraordinary courage and extraordinary strength of character. When a boat is sinking when women and children onboard, as a man with all of his faculties you make sure everyone has a life preserver and is safe before reaching for a life preserver for yourself. This is just a fact of life.
The man you see in this photograph is Jimmy Tunney. He is one of my top seven friends. I have been in situations with this man that has defined our friendship and defined his loyalty and courage.
Obviously there is more to friendship than just proving yourself in a life or death situation. We all know that. I can tell you from myself, the friendships that I most value are those that over time in the field have proven themselves to be a true right hand man or woman demonstrating great judgement and courage over time. I would like to say again, to all of you there is nothing more important or of greater value than a true friend.
By the way, who ever thought that Captain Tred Barta would retire his khaki captain’s shirts and wear a high performance fishing shirt that you see in the photograph. I get so many complements I just have to wear it. Both Jimmy and I have some pretty big physical handicaps to live with and as a result of that both of us have problems with our bodies keeping cool and not overheating in the hot tropical sun the Florida Keys dishes out. Nothing keeps you cooler and dryer than the Huk shirts we are wearing.
There are many people who have watched my career over time and think I have been extremely foolish to turn down large sums of money for endorsing products but I was not completely convinced of putting my name behind. What my critics don’t understand is that one’s reputation and character always will outweigh physical numeration.
When I first arrived in the Florida Keys I did an extensive amount fishing with my dear friend, Donna De Weil as well as Jimmy Tunney. It became very obvious to Donna that the sun was my greatest enemy. Often to cool me down offshore, Donna would pour cold water on my head and down my neck to try to regulate my body temperature. Although this worked temporarily, the clothes I wore then took a long time to dry and would not wick away the heat and perspiration. When we finally discovered Huk Performance Fishing gear it was like night and day. Not a little difference but an incredible difference in keeping me cool. This is one of the primary reasons why I have a long term relationship with Huk. The net is they make a superior product which can be trusted in the field to do its job.
Another day, another adventure.
Captain Tred Barta