The Sign of a Pro Angler

Here in north central Oklahoma, this is Cowboy Country. Not just because of the influence of the university, but also in history. In fact, when I am not scribbling thoughts on paper, I actually work along side Pistol Pete’s great grandson.

Now, I do not know how much cowboys actually fished in the old days…  Or how well the watering holes even were stocked. And I have yet to find an old gun belt or saddle with a holster for a “pitching rod.” But, since I have been following the professional bass anglers of the BassMaster Elite Series, I have noticed something cowboys and anglers have in common.

At sporting events, Oklahomans make this “gun” sign with our fingers.  Usually, it is waved in both hands while pivoting at the wrist. Other times, it is pointed a bit high and then snapped down.

While telling a fish story many professional anglers make a similar hand signal, recreating not a gun, but their grip of a baitcaster reel.  There is no need to pantomime winding a reel to communicate, just this abrupt, simple gesture as the angler suddenly jerks this hand up to the chest and stands straight up to dramatize a hook set on a giant bass.

If you notice someone telling a story that makes this gesture, remember, he or she is not simultaneously pointing at two things.   And there is no need to shy away or call the authorities.  This is likely to be someone you might want to go listen to.  You will be surprised by how many pointers they freely share.

Andy Whitcomb is a columnist, outdoor humorist, and stressed-out Dad. Visit him at

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Andy Whitcomb

Andy Whitcomb

Andy is an outdoor writer ( and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.