An homage to the tailgate: Where friends meet to share tales of their day in the outdoors


No matter how a day on the water or in the field unfolds, it’s often likely to end at one tailgate or another. That’s where our recollections are first shared with our buddies after spending countless hours casting for fish, or sitting in a treestand waiting for that big buck to stroll past.

Sometimes, it’s easy to tell how someone’s day went, even without so much as a word spoken. One hunter my have a dead stare and emotionless face, betraying a missed shot. Other times, you’ll see ear-to-ear grins after a day when the river was perfect, and the fishing was hot.


At the tailgate, we share the highlights and final moments of our outdoor experiences, cementing memories before heading home. It’s where we ask friends both old and new, “Well, how’d it go?” Photos are often taken, and a beer or two may be consumed—in careful moderation, of course. It’s only once we’ve packed away our gear, including (hopefully) a cooler full of the day’s rewards, that the gate finally goes up.

The tailgate meet-up is an essential part of a day afield (Photo: Joshua Demkowich)

The tailgate also serves as a seat for changing clothes or footwear, and sometimes that night’s dinner table, but it’s as much a communal place as it is a private one. If it weren’t for the tailgate, after all, where would we meet after a long day in the marsh or hardwood stands and field edges? Where would we take a moment to breathe deep and relax, or light that first cigarette, if so inclined? Where would we sit, staring into the beyond, recounting what unfolded—or what didn’t—that day? For the life of me, I can’t think of a better place for our outdoor stories to begin.