Bass Pro Shops gift runs into a minor snag

By JAYSON JACOBY, Baker City Herald December 19, 2008 03:03 pm

Bass Pro Shops sent me a Christmas gift, which struck me as a pretty thoughtful gesture considering it’s been at least a year since I hooked a bass.

And I landed that smallmouth without the assistance of any of Bass Pro Shops’ quality products.

They didn’t pay me to write that.

Truth be told, I’ve never bought anything from the company. Not even a little bag of those black rubber worms. I’ve heard bass go for those worms almost every time. Although I suppose if you’re a famished bass there is only one time, unless you come across an angler who believes in catch-and-release. That’s the bad thing about being a fish — the likelihood that your last meal is fake.

Well, that and all the swimming.

Anyway I felt guilty as soon as I opened the envelope and read the letter from Bass Pro Shops announcing, and here I’m quoting: “We are pleased to enclose your 2009 Bass Pro Shops Media Discount Card for catalog or retail purchases.”

With all those capital letters I knew right off this was a heck of a lot better present than a Chia Pet.

Except maybe for Chia Scooby Doo.

Bass Pro Shops even spelled my name right, both on the letter’s salutation line and on the discount card (I mean Discount Card). That’s a feat rare enough that it qualifies as its own little stocking-stuffer.

Besides not ever buying anything from Bass Pro Shops, not once have I bought anything for the outfit.

But I guarantee you wouldn’t want to draw the company in a gift exchange.

I have poked around in a few Bass Pro Shops catalogues, and with my modest budget I doubt I could afford anything they don’t already have.

The place sells every sort of camouflage-painted item you can think of, and a whole lot of others you can’t.

A cigarette lighter, for instance.

I can’t figure what advantage a camo lighter would afford a hunter.

I’m no biologist, but nothing I’ve seen of wildlife behavior suggests that a deer or elk, even if it couldn’t see the lighter, wouldn’t notice the person puffing on cigarette or trying to kindle a fire.

Bass Pro Shops also markets a line of camo harmonicas, which sounds like trouble to me.

You’d probably never find the instrument after your hunting partner tossed it into the woods because your rendition of “Tumbling Tumbleweeds” was keeping him awake.

A trailer hitch ball cover is a nice gift, or at least an unusual one, but there’s no way to surprise Bass Pro Shops in that area.

The online catalogue even offers a cover in the shape of a buck deer head, but that seems to me like a good way to get your trailer hitch shot off.

Bass Pro Shops generosity surprised me mainly because the discount card is the first of its kind I’ve ever received.

Perhaps this sort of thing is common in big media markets. I’ve toiled my entire career in relative obscurity, though, and so was taken aback by how blatant and unapologetic Bass Pro Shops’ approach was.

I mean the card has the words “media discount” printed right on the top, and in bold black letters. It’s like a disc jockey blaring, “this next record brought to you by payola.”

I could understand the company mailing me the card if there was the slightest chance that anything I might write would bolster Bass Pro Shops’ bottom line.

It seems, though, that the company might have overestimated my influence, and egregiously so.

Maybe nobody at the company’s headquarters realizes that neither I, nor anyone else at the Baker City Herald, so much as applied for media credentials for any of the Bassmasters tournaments this year.

In any case, my employer’s ethics policy forbids me from using the Bass Pro Shops discount card.

But that policy isn’t as explicit as it could be.

 I read the document quite carefully, too, as though it were the recently discovered will of a wealthy relative I did not know about.

And I can now state, with confidence, that the policy does not expressly ban me from trying to ensure that someone who is not so ethically encumbered as I am can take advantage of this lucrative opportunity.

I am, as the saying goes, willing to entertain offers.

It’s harmless, really.

I’ll be careful. I’m not going to put the card on eBay or anything. Maybe I’ll make a few phone calls, gauge the interest.

What could go wrong?

I’m not auctioning off a Senate seat, after all.


Jayson Jacoby is editor of the Baker City Herald.