A theft for Feathers

A young American was recently arrested in England. The unique thing is what he was arrested for. He stole bird pelts from the Natural History Museum. It is also worth mentioning that this guy (22 years old) is one of the most amazing fly tying artists I have ever seen.

By itself this is bad, but when you start considering the deeper and perhaps darker side of the story it gets interesting from the view of an angler. Was this talented young man so obsessed with his craft that he felt the only way to improve upon it was to use feathers that are essentially unattainable? Was he so fueled with obsession that the risk involved in what he did became secondary to what he envisioned as the end result?

I guess we all sit and dream about what we don’t have and think we need. Personally I would love to have a long list of rods, some top of the line Sims waders, and a Saracione reel; but I cannot imagine being so desirous of them that I would case a joint and steal them.

Several years ago I worked at a fly shop and my manager was fired for theft. I also helped apprehend those who would come in and pilfer flies. Flies? C’mon now! Didn’t understand it then, and don’t now…but I do have an opinion (big surprise).

Passion about fly fishing is one thing that I have in abundance, and I can see how my passion if left unrestricted could become an obsession. What if, for the sake of conversation, a Saracione reel became so important to me that I dwelt upon it all the time. What if my financial status would not allow me to buy it but I became convinced that the only way I could fish would be to have one. What if I felt that the only thing left for me were one of those reels. What if I became so obsessed with it that I were willing to break the law to get it? It wouldn’t take much more than the opportunity being provided before I started formulating a plan to get it.

No doubt all of us have sat and daydreamed about a certain rod. Perhaps even envisioned ourselves using it with great success. Maybe the young man lay in bed at night and mentally tied flies with these feathers to the point that it became a little to real for him.

I think it would be safe to assume that this young man has some issues that go beyond tying flies with exotic feathers. Though I am not schooled in the study, I would say that there are some psychological issues that were fueled by his desire to tie “the perfect fly”.

I make no attempt to offer excuses for this fellow. Wrong is wrong and he should face the punishment for his crime.

Within each of us is the desire to have great gear, good flies, all the accessories, but none of those things are really necessary to fly fish. The first year I was involved in this sport I used a box retail package that set me back thirty bucks for everything, yet I enjoyed what I was doing and I caught fish.

I would truly love to have a bamboo rod made by Harry Boyd and one made by Bill Oyster, I would love to have an Orvis Helios, I would love to have a lot of things that enhance my sport. But I don’t have to have them to MAKE my sport.

Perhaps someday, after restitution has been made this fellow can come back to the states, live a full life, and never fall again. The true test won’t be while he is incarcerated. The true test will be when he sees that which he does not or can not have and is faced with the demons that started him into the nightmare he is currently enduring.

Here is a link to the news story.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1333607/Edwin-Rist-steals-bird-pelts-worth-millions-Natural-History-Museum.html

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