100 best adventure and outdoors quotes and thoughts

Posted on: January 16, 2020 | Everybody Adventures | Comments

Updated Jan. 28, 2020: Adds John Ashley-Cooper, Reg Baird, Bill Barich, Ray Bergman, John Gierach, Arnold Gingrich, Roderick Haig-Brown, Herbert Hoover, Lefty Kreh, Charles Kuralt, J.B. Martin, Patrick McManus, Harry Middleton, Alfred W. Miller, Paul O’Neil, Charles F. Orvis, William Tapply and John Voelker.

From poet Henry David Thoreau to novelist Jack London, from presidents Chester Arthur to Jimmy Carter, the great outdoors inspires nearly everyone.

Here are some of the best quotes on the outdoors — hiking, fishing, hunting, conservation, the wilderness and everything in between.

Edward Abbey

• “Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread.”

• “May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.”

• “We need wilderness whether or not we ever set foot in it. We need a refuge even though we many never need to set foot in it. We need the possibility of escape as surely as we need hope.”

John Ashley-Cooper

• “One thing becomes clearer as one gets older and one’s fishing experience increases, and that is the paramount importance of one’s fishing companions.”

John James Audubon

• “In my deepest troubles, I frequently would wrench myself from the persons around me and retire to some secluded part of our noble forests.”

• “Hunting, fishing, drawing, and music occupied my every moment. Cares I knew not, and cared naught about them.”

Barry Babcock

• “The forest talks but a good hunter only hears it by learning its language.”

Reg Baird

• “The man who coined the phrase ‘Money can’t buy happiness’ never bought himself a good fly rod.”

Bill Barich

• “Hatchery fish have the same colors, but they always seem muted like bad reproductions of great art.”

William Barrows

• “It is thus enjoying Nature in her undisturbed simplicity, before any blemish of man has marred the naturalness in all her varied phases, and moods, and times, that makes the wilderness pastime so fascinating.”

Fred Bear

• “A hunt based only on trophies taken falls far short of what the ultimate goal should be.”

• “Immerse yourself in the outdoor experience. It will cleanse your soul and make you a better person.”

• “There’s more fun in hunting with the handicap of the bow than there is in hunting with the sureness of the gun.”

• “I have always tempered my killing with respect for the game pursued. I see the animal not only as a target, but as a living creature with more freedom than I will ever have. I take that life if I can, with regret as well as joy, and with the sure knowledge that nature’s way of fang and claw and starvation are a far crueler fate than I bestow.”

• “When a hunter is in a tree stand with high moral values and with the proper hunting ethics and richer for the experience, that hunter is 20 feet closer to God.”

Henry Ward Beecher

• “The true source of enjoyment in field sports is to be found in the exertion of one’s own faculties, and especially in such a carriage of one’s self as to be superior to sagacity and caution to the most wary and sharp-sighted of creatures.”

• “Men go shopping just as men go out fishing or hunting, to see how large a fish may be caught with the smallest hook.”

Ray Bergman

• “In every species of fish I’ve angled for, it is the ones that have got away that thrill me the most, the ones that keep fresh in my memory. So I say it is good to lose fish. If we didn’t, much of the thrill of angling would be gone.”

Janna Bialek

• “People who fish know that life is a morality play in which you are sometimes the victor, sometimes vanquished. IT is all of life’s lessons in the space of a morning. Only an extraordinary person would purposefully risk being outsmarted by a creature often less than twelve inches long, over and over again.

Otto van Bismarck

• “People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war, or before an election.”

Harold F. Blaisdell

• “All the romance of trout fishing exists in the mind of the angler and is in no way shared by the fish.”

Koos Brandt

• “My biggest fear is that when I’m dead and gone, my wife will try to sell my fishing gear for what I said I paid for it.”

John Buchan

• “The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions of hope.”

Nash Buckingham

• “A duck call in the hands of the unskilled is one of conservation’s greatest assets.”

Jimmy Carter

• “During the proper seasons, the urge within me to be in the woods and fields or along a stream is such a strong and pleasant desire that I have no inclination to withstand it.”

• “In forests, mountains, swamps, or waterways, I also gain a renewal of perspective and a sense of order, truth, patience, beauty and justice (although nature’s is harsh).”

• “Success, when it comes, must be difficult and uncertain. The effortless taking of game is not hunting — it is slaughter.”

Grover Cleveland

• “In this domain, removed from the haunts of men and far away from the noise and dust of their turmoil and strife, the fishing that can fully delight the heart of the true fisherman is found.”

• “What sense is there in the charge of laziness sometimes made against true fishermen? Laziness has no place in the constitution of a man who starts at sunrise and tramps all day with only a sandwich to eat, floundering through bushes and briers and stumbling over rocks or wading streams in pursuit of the elusive trout.”

• “A true fisherman is conservative, provident, not given to envy, considerate of the rights of others, and careful of his good name.”

• “It is constantly said that (fishermen) greatly exaggerate the size of the fish that are lost. … These are harsh words; but they are abundantly justified.”

• “Suppose the discomforts willing endured by duck hunters were required of employees in an industrial establishment. There would be one place where a condition of strike would be constant and chronic.”

Dale Earnhardt

• “When he was young, I told Dale Jr. that hunting and racing are a lot alike. Holding that steering wheel and holding that rifle both mean you better be responsible.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

• “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

Gary Ferguson

• “The hunter, as Theodore Roosevelt defined him, a man who fights for the integrity of both his prey and the land that sustained it, is being too often overwhelmed by men concerned mostly with playing dress up and shooting guns.”

Elgin Gates

• “The true trophy hunter is a self-disciplined perfectionist seeking a single animal, the ancient patriarch well past his prime that is often an outcast from his own kind.”

Emma Gatewood

• “If you will go with me to the mountains, and sleep on the leaf-carpeted floors, and enjoy the bigness of nature, and the beauty of all out-of-doors, you’ll find your troubles fading.”

John Gierach

• “The best fishermen I know try not to make the same mistakes over and over again; instead they strive to make new and interesting mistakes and to remember what they learned from them.”

• “The solution to any problem — work, love, money, whatever — is to go fishing, and the worse the problem, the longer the trip should be.”

• “I think I fish, in part, because it’s an anti-social, bohemian business that, when gone about properly, puts you forever outside the mainstream culture without actually landing you in an institution.”

• “They say you forget your troubles on a trout stream, but that’s not quite it. What happens is that you begin to see where your troubles fit into the grand scheme of things, and suddenly they’re just not such a big deal anymore.”

Arnold Gingrich

• “A trout is a moment of beauty known only to those who seek it.”

Zane Grey

• “If I fished only to capture fish, my fishing trips would have ended long ago.”

Theodore Gordon

• “Lucky indeed is the boy who lives in a country of trout streams for he will unconsciously imbibe the spirit of lasting happiness.”

Roderick Haig-Brown

• “There will be days when the fishing is better than one’s most optimistic forecast, others when it is far worse. Either is a gain over just staying home.”

• “Anglers … exaggerate grossly and make gentle and inoffensive creatures sound like wounded buffalo and man-eating tigers.”

• “I have never seen a river that I could not love. Moving water … has a fascinating vitality. It has power and grace and associations. It has a thousand colors and a thousand shapes, yet it follows laws so definite that the tiniest streamlet is an exact replica of a great river.”

• “I remember the good evenings that I have fished, even the ones that realized material hopes not by the fish that came to the fly, but by the color and movement of the water and sky, by the sounds and scents and gentle stirrings that were all about me.”

• “Were it not for the strong, quick life of rivers, for their sparkle in the sunshine, for the cold grayness of them under rain and the feel of them about my legs as I set my feet hard down on rocks or sand or gravel, I should fish less often.”

Charles Hallock

• “An active temperament tires of the monotony of a fixed cottage by the side of an individual lake, with the diurnal row, the bath, and the still fishing, the hammock and the book, and the protracted lullaby of idleness and loafing.”

Brooke Hampton

• “Life sucks a lot less when you add mountain air, a campfire and some peace and quiet.”

Ernest Hemingway

• “Somebody behind you while you are fishing is as bad as someone looking over your should while you write a letter to your girl.”

Bob Hinman

• “When done under the rules of good sportsmanship, duck hunting is a culmination of art, skill and scientific endeavor. It is also an act of love, for who loves the birds more than the hunter?”

Dan Holland

• “Steelhead fishing is the ultimate in trout fishing, the graduate school for the fly caster. A steelhead is big, fast and strong, and he jumps as if he had a bee on his tail.”

• “Obviously, the good Lord knew that the world wouldn’t be a fit place for man without trout; so He laid his plans accordingly.”

• “(The steelhead) has the dash and cunning of the trout, the power and vitality of the salmon. He’ll take a fly readily — and take the fisherman’s tackle along with it. He’s a fireball; he’s lightning; he’s a chain reaction.”

• “Don’t fish where and as the others do. Be contrary. Take the least traveled path. Cross the stream and fish the opposite side even if you get wet in the process.”

• “When the evening hatch is over and the day is done, the fisherman doesn’t always have a heavy creel to show for it, but he’s richer inside.”

Herbert Hoover

• “Fishing is much more than the fish. It is the great occasion when we may return to the fine simplicity of our forefathers.”

• “Next to prayer, fishing is the most personal relationship of man.”

• “To go fishing is the chance to wash one’s soul with pure air, with the rush of the brook, or with the shimmer of sun on blue water. It brings meekness and inspiration from the decency of nature, charity toward tackle-makers, patience toward fish, a mockery of profits and egos, a quieting of hate, a rejoicing that you do not have to decide a darned thing until next week. And it is discipline in the equality of men — for all men are equal before fish.”

Thomas F. Hornbein

• “But at times I wondered if I had not come a long way only to find that what I really sought was something I had left behind.”

David Joy

• “There is a sadness that only hunters know, a moment when lament overshadows any desire for celebration. Life is sustained by death, and though going to the field is an act of taking responsibility for that fact, the killing is not easy, nor should it be.”

Jon Krakauer

• “But there are men for whom the unobtainable has a special attraction. Usually they are not experts: their ambitions and fantasies are strong enough to brush aside their doubts which more more cautious men might have. Determination and faith are their strongest weapons. At best such men are regarded as eccentric; at worst, mad…”

• “It was titillating to brush up against the enigma of mortality, to steal a glimpse across its forbidden frontier. Climbing was a magnificent activity, I firmly believed, not in spite of the inherent perils, but precisely because of them.”

Lefty Kreh

• “There’s more B.S. in fly fishing than there is in a Kansas feedlot.”

Charles Kuralt

• “Often I have been exhausted on trout streams, uncomfortable, wet, cold, briar scarred, sunburned, mosquito bitten, but never, with a fly rod in my hand have I been less than in a place that was less than beautiful.”

Doug Larson

• “If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there’d be a shortage of fishing poles.”

Aldo Leopold

• “Harmony with land is like harmony with a friend; you cannot cherish his right hand and chop off his left. That is to say, you cannot love game and hate predators; you cannot conserve the waters and waste the ranges; you cannot build the forest and mine the farm. The land is one organism.”

• “How like fish we are: ready, nay eager, to seize upon whatever new thing some wind of circumstance shakes down upon the river of time! And how we rue our haste, finding the gilded morsel to contain a hook!”

• “To those devoid of an imagination a blank place on the map is a useless waste; to others, the most valuable part.”

• “There are some of us who can live without wild things, and some who cannot. For us of the minority, the opportunity to see geese or wild flowers is a right as inalienable as free speech.”

• “A river or stream is a cycle of energy from sun to plants to insects to fish. It is a continuum broken only by humans.”

Jack London

• “The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.”

Richard Louv

• “We have such a brief opportunity to pass on to our children our love for this Earth, and to tell our stories. … In my children’s memories, the adventures we’ve had together in nature will always exist.”

• “Prize the natural spaces and shorelines most of all, because once they’re gone, with rare exceptions they’re gone forever. In our bones we need the natural curves of hills, the scent of chapparal, the whisper of pines, the possibility of wilderness.”

Norman Maclean

• “If our father had had his say, nobody who did not know how to fish would be allowed to disgrace a fish by catching him.”

• “Poets talk about ‘spots of time,’ but it is really fishermen who experience eternity compressed into a moment. No one can tell what a spot of time is until suddenly the whole world is a fish and the fish is gone.”

• “My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe. To him, all good things — trout as well as eternal salvation — come by grace and grace comes by art and art does not come easy.”

• “One great thing about fly fishing is that after a while nothing exists of the world but thoughts about fly fishing. It is also interesting that thoughts about fishing are often carried on in dialogue form where Hope and Fear — or many times, two Fears — try to outweigh each other.”

J.B. Martin

• “It is not how abundant nor how considerable our catch be, but rather to the sport, and manner in which our quarry, the noble trout is angled.”

Thomas McGuane

• “We have reached the time in the life of the planet, and humanity’s demand upon it, when every fisherman will have to be a river-keeper, a steward of marine shallows, a watchman on the high seas. We are beyond having to put back what we have taken out. We must put back more than we take out.”

Don Marquis

• “Fishing is a delusion entirely surrounded by liars in old clothes.”

A.J. McClane

• “To a fisherman, the sounds of a river and pounding surf are as musical as any symphony, and twice as compelling.”

Thomas McGuane

• “You can’t say enough about fishing. Though the sport of kings, it’s just what the deadbeat ordered.”

• “An undisturbed river is as perfect as we will ever know, every refractive slide of cold water a glimpse of eternity.”

• “I simply feel that the frontier of angling is no longer either ethical or geographical. The Bible tells us to watch and listen. Something like this suggests what fishing ought to be about: using the ceremony of our sport and passion to arouse greater reverberations within ourselves.”

Patrick McManus

• “Scholars have long known that fishing eventually turns men into philosophers. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to buy decent tackle on a philosopher’s salary.”

• “Smoked carp tastes just as good as smoked salmon when you ain’t got no smoked salmon.”

Harry Middleton

• “Fishing is not an escape from life, but often a deeper immersion into it.”

Alfred W. Miller

• “The trout do not rise in the cemetery, so you better do your fishing while you are still able.”

• “Soon after I embraced the sport of angling I became convinced that I should never be able to enjoy it if I had to rely on the cooperation of the fish.”

Finis Mitchell

• “We don’t stop hiking because we grow old — we grow old because we stop hiking.”

John Muir

• “Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”

• “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity.”

Margaret Murie

• “Wilderness itself is the basis of all our civilization. I wonder if we have enough reverence for life to concede to wilderness the right to live on.”

Olaus Murie

• “Certainly a wilderness area, a little portion of our planet left alone … will furnish us with a number of very important uses. If we are wise, we will cherish what we have left of such places in our land.”

• “We cannot overlook the importance of wild country as source of inspiration, to which we give expression in writing, in poetry, drawing and painting, in mountaineering, or in just being there.”

Roderick Nash

• “It is really not the wilderness that needs management (it has been doing quite well, after all, for a couple of billion years), but people.”

• “Wilderness appealed to those bored or disgusted with man and his works. It not only offered an escape from society but also was an ideal stage for the Romantic individual to exercise the cult that he frequently made of his own soul. The solitude and total freedom of the wilderness created a perfect setting for either melancholy or exultation.”

Jack Nicklaus

• “There are always new places to go fishing. For any fisherman, there’s always a new place, always a new horizon.”

Ted Nugent

• “Vegetarians are cool. All I eat are vegetarians — except for the occasional mountain lion steak.”

Paul O’Neil

• “There he stands, draped in more equipment than a telephone lineman, trying to outwit an organism with a brain no bigger than a breadcrumb, and getting licked in the process.”

Jose Ortega y Gasset

• “When you are fed up with the troublesome present, take your gun, whistle for your dog, and go out to the mountain.”

• “In our rather stupid time, hunting is belittled and misunderstood, many refusing to see it for the vital vacation from the human condition that it is, or to acknowledge that the hunter does not hunt in order to kill; on the contrary, he kills in order to have hunted.”

• “The hunter who accepts the sporting code of ethics keeps his commandments in the greatest solitude, with no witness or audience other than the sharp peaks of the mountain, the roaming cloud, the stern oak, the trembling juniper, and the passing animal.”

• “Life is a terrible conflict, a grandiose and atrocious confluence. Hunting submerges man deliberately in that formidable mystery and therefore contains something of religious rite and emotion in which homage is paid to what is divine, transcendent, and in the laws of Nature.”

Charles F. Orvis

• “More than half the intense enjoyment of fly-fishing is derived from the beautiful surroundings, the satisfaction felt from being in the open air, the new lease of life secured thereby, and the many, many pleasant recollections of all one has seen, heard and done.”

Leslie Glendower Peabody

• “The only thing a canoe really demands of you is a nice sense of poise, and a getting back to those antique laws of equilibrium, laws that get lost in the hurrying world of today.”

Jim Posewitz

• “If there is a sacred moment in the ethical pursuit of game, it is the moment you release the arrow or touch off the fatal shot.”

W.C. Prime

• “It is a comfort to take fish where they are sure to be useful for food, and it is a subject of profound regret that many persons go into the woods and camp, and, having only a few mouths to supply, kill large numbers of trout which are not eaten but thrown away. No sportsman does this.”

David Quammen

• “Humanity badly needs things that are big and fearsome and homicidally wild. Counterintuitive as it may seem, we need to preserve those few remaining beasts, places and forces of nature capable of murdering us with sublime indifference.”

Steven Rinella

• “Maybe stalking the woods is as vital to the human condition as playing music or putting words to paper.”

Jase Robertson

• “You see the true heart of a man when you’re out in the woods with a weapon.”

Andy Rooney

• “Vegetarian — that’s an old Indian word meaning lousy hunter.”

Robert Ruark

• “Any time a boy is ready to learn about guns is the time he’s ready, no matter how young he is, and you can’t start too young to learn how to be careful.”

• “‘The best thing about hunting and fishing,’ the Old Man said, ‘is that you don’t have to actually do it to enjoy it. You can got to bed every night thinking about how much fun you had 20 years ago, and it all comes back clear as midnight.'”

• “When I get up at five in the morning to go fishing, I wake my wife up and ask, ‘What’ll it be dear, sex or fishing?’ And she says, ‘Don’t forget your waders.'”

• “You might as well learn that a man who catches fish or shoots game has got to make it fit to eat before he sleeps. Otherwise it’s all a waste and a sin to take it if you can’t use it.”

Zenna Schaffer

• “Give a man a fish and he has food for a day; teach him how to fish and you can get rid of him for the entire weekend.”

Norman Schwarzkopf

• “I’ve managed to convince my wife that somewhere in the Bible it says, ‘Man cannot have too many shotguns and fishing poles.'”

Joe Simpson

• “There is something about mountains that moves the soul. They arouse a powerful sense of spiritual awareness and a notion of our own transient and fragile mortality and our insignificant place in the universe.”

Sam Snead

• “The only reason I ever played golf in the first place was so I could afford to hunt and fish.”

Rebecca Solnit

• “When you give yourself to places, they give you yourself back; the more one comes to know them, the more one seeds them with the invisible crop of memories and associations that will be waiting for you when you come back, while new places offer up new thoughts, new possibilities. Exploring the world is one of the best ways of exploring the mind and walking travels both terrains.”

Wallace Stegner

• “Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed. … We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in.”

Gladys Taber

• “Catching something is purely a by-product of our fishing. It is the act of fishing that wipes away all grief, lightens all worry, dissolves fear and anxiety.”

• “The curious thing about fishing is that you never want to go home. If you catch something, you can’t stop. If you don’t catch anything, you hate to leave in case something might bite.”

William Tapply

• “I’ve gone fishing thousands of times in my life, and I have never once felt unlucky or poorly paid for those hours on the water.”

Hunter S. Thompson

• “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow! What a Ride!'”

Henry David Thoreau

• “Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.”

• “I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least — and it is commonly more than that — sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements.”

• “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

Mark Twain

• “Don’t tell fish stories where the people know you; but particularly, don’t tell them where they know the fish.”

Henry Van Dyke

• “A river is the most human and companionable of all inanimate things. It has a life, a character, a voice of its own, and is as full of good fellowship as a sugar-maple is of sap.”

John Voelker

• “Most fishermen swiftly learn that it’s a pretty good rule never to show a favorite spot to any fisherman you wouldn’t trust with your wife.”

Izaac Walton

• “Rivers and the inhabitants of the watery elements are made for wise men to contemplate and for fools to pass by without consideration.”

• “Angling may be said to be so much like the Mathematicks, that it can ne’r be fully learnt.”

William Arthur Ward

• “The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”

Randy Wayne White

• “Adventure-travel is any activity used as a conduit to observe, share, enjoy, suffer, encounter or experience that which is outside the boundaries of one’s own day-to-day life. ‘Boundaries’ is the operative word here; real, implied or imagined, if your body or mind crosses a boundary, you are doing it.”

More from Everybody Adventures

See also, Examining the mindset of the American hunter

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Bob Frye is the everybodyadventures.com editor. Reach him at 412-838-5148 or bfrye@535mediallc.com. See other stories, blogs, videos and more at everybodyadventures.com.

Share This Article

Shop special Everybody Adventure products today!