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Guilty of success by association

If you are a hunter and want to make a lot of new hunter friends very quickly, shoot a big trophy animal. Then post it online and wait.

Eventually you’ll have friends you don’t even recognize. This is because hunters – and people in general – have a strong urge to associate with someone who is highly successful. That way, when they show you a photo of their friend who got that trophy animal, they’re implying this is the quality of animals that they and their friends are used to dealing with. This is why no one ever shows you a photo of their friend with a scrawny spike buck.

A big buck or other game animal will cause even the most honest hunter to stretch the definition of friendship in order to claim a tenuous link to a person who harvested it.

I learned this the other day when a friend of mine got out his phone and showed me a photo of a proud hunter posing beside what is a once-in-a-lifetime buck.

He then asked, “What do you think of that deer?”

“That’s a great buck,” I said. “Is that one of the guys in your gang?”

“No,” he said. “But he used to hunt at our camp.”

“Do you know him well then?” I asked.

“Yes, he hunted at our camp occasionally five years before I joined it.”

“You’ve been going to that camp for 25 years.”

“Well, yes but he’s also friend of one of the guys in our camp who briefly knew him before he left,” he replied. “And that guy is a good friend of mine. So we’re pretty tight…”

“What the name of the guy who knew him?” I asked.

This was followed by a long and awkward silence.

“So, is the guy who took that huge buck a good hunter or was he just lucky?” I asked.

“Oh, man, my buddy is a great hunter. Or at least that’s what someone told my friend.”

“The friend whose name you can’t remember?”

“Yeah, that guy. He’s a great guy too. Or so I’m told. He actually hunts in the second week of deer season at the camp.”

“And you hunt the first week these days?”

“Actually, I haven’t hunted at that camp for the last few years…”

“So you don’t really know the guy who claims he once knew him either?”

“Not really,” he said.

“How then are you are a friend of the guy who shot the big buck?” I asked.

He pointed to the photo.

“By any chance, did you get that photo off of Facebook?”

“Heck, no. I don’t do Facebook. A friend of a friend of a friend got it from one of his Facebook friends…”

“So the guy with the big buck is not really a friend at all,” I said.

“Let’s just say we have the kind of friendship that doesn’t need constant contact,” he replied.

“Or any,” I added.

He looked a little insulted. Then he said, “Well, your lofty standards cause me to believe you don’t have a lot of friends. Am I right?”

Of course, that was simply untrue. And just to prove it, I showed him a photo of my friend posing with a huge Nile crocodile. The one that I got from a friend of a friend of a Facebook friend…

A little more local for your inbox.

Seven days. One newsletter. Local reporting about people and places you
won't find anywhere else. Stay caught up with The Observer This Week.

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