No decision is actually needed in this case. Trout season doesn't open for a little more than a week. Still, I've been thinking "deep thoughts" about both hobbies. They are very similar actually. To be successful you need to be very observant. Close to nature works best. The best trout fishing is invariably away from the crowd. Birding too. In often the most beautiful of places. Crowds of people might work once in a while for birding but I suspect solitary or with one other person is also the best just like troutfishing. You need to be quiet. They both require a type of stalking. Trout fishermen are often accused of being the "elitist" types. When the sport was invented in England that was probably true. Trout streams were the private property of the landed aristocracy. Birders sometime's get charged with incipient "dweeb or geekism."
It's easy enough to get involved in the minutia of either sport. Should I get technical about hatches and gear or binoculars and minute differences in color? Tell how to "read the water" or recognize bird songs. The point is that the birder or the trout fisherman is out and about amongst nature. What could be better than that?
Then there are the stories that come with each hobby. Like the time I caught a bat who was attracted to my homemade fly. Or the time I was trapped against a cliff in Yellowstone while two testosterone crazed elk had it out right in front of me. Or the time that Tony and I were hiking,flyrod in hand, up a steep trail in the Bitterroots and came upon my first and only Great Grey Owl, who was drowsing on a branch of a Ponderosa Pine right above our heads.
The tendency and the need to place close attention to things and the time to contemplate about them is why trout fishing has produced the only real "literature" in the fishing genre. I mean, what are you going write about thats really interesting with a $70,000 dollar bass boat, 3 guys on a polluted river and 2 cases of beer?
What is truly appealing about both of these sports? A number of years ago, a Justice of the Supreme Court of Michigan , who wrote a best selling novel (Anatomy of a Murder), which later became a movie starring Jimmy Stewart, answered that question in a way of which I've always liked. Although it's about trout fishing I think it easily applies to birding as well.
TESTAMENT OF A TROUT FISHERMAN:
I fish because I love to; because I love the environs where trout are found, which are invariably beautiful, and hate the environs where crowds of people are found, which are invariably ugly; because of all the television commercials, cocktail parties, and assorted social posturing I thus escape; because, in a world where most men seem to spend their lives doing things they hate, my fishing is at once an endless source of delight and an act of small rebellion; because trout do not lie or cheat and cannot be bought or bribed or impressed by power, but respond only to quietude and humility and endless patience; because I suspect that men are going along this way for the last time, and I for one don't want to waste the trip; because mercifully there are no telephones on trout waters; because only in the woods can I find solitude without loneliness; because bourbon out of an old tin cup always tastes better out there; because maybe one day I will catch a mermaid; and, finally, not because I regard fishing as being so terribly important but because I suspect that so many of the other concerns of men are equally unimportant - and not nearly so much fun. -John Voelker (Robert Traver)