Close Encounters of the Rugged Kind

Close Encounters of the Rugged Kind

If you’ve ever seen my previous hunting and fishing series, Officially Rugged with RD, as much as I did a lot of fishing and hunting in the series, you’ll know it really was just a comedy show. There was none of this “how to” crap and none of this “I’m a pro-staffer and I know a lot about fishing” bullshit either. I would always say, “You won’t learn a goddam thing about hunting or fishing by watching me.” When I started putting the show together, I knew right from the start that it would be a fun show, nothing more, nothing less. I also used to tell people, “It’s stupid as hell, actually.” But, it was quite popular mainly because of two words – rugged and unrugged. I never really thought that I, as the host, was necessarily funny. It was the concept of rugged or unrouged and – the other people – who made it funny. I was simply the facilitator, or maybe even the ring leader.

Some of the funniest rugged or unrugged things I ever saw happened when I would run into a viewer of the show while out and about in a grocery store, Home Depot, Canadian Tire or just walking down the sidewalk.

One morning, I was in a Tim Horton’s and I ordered a large “double double.” The young woman took my money and then I waited a few feet to the left for my coffee to come up. Then, this big tall guy in his 40s, dressed in a jacket and tie walks up and sarcastically says, “And, I would like a very rugged large black coffee as opposed to a very unrugged double double please.” Of course, the poor woman behind the counter had no idea what was going on. There was no indication that she recognized me when she took my order. But, the funny part was the simple fact that the guy didn’t look at me, didn’t say anything to me… he just “nailed me.” Double double – UNRUGGED!

He obviously knew who I was and found great pleasure in taking a good hearted shot at me, one I totally deserved. I didn’t say anything to him either. I just walked away with a smirk on my face as if to say, “Well, I just got my ass kicked!”

One day, I was in Mark’s Work Wear in Winnipeg, Manitoba. It was just a few minutes before 9pm… the place was pretty much empty and getting ready to close for the day. There were two cashiers at the front counter, one was closing out her till and the other was serving me on hers.

I placed a couple plaid shirts on the counter and then she picked them up and with some authority in her voice, declared, “Now, this is rugged!” The other woman jumped in with, “What? Rugged? What are talking about?” Of course, I had a weird feeling at this point because the woman who was serving me still hadn’t really taken a good look at me. She explained, “Oh, it’s one of these stupid fishing shows my husband watches every Saturday. Rugged this, rugged that… rugged, rugged, rugged. It’s about the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen.” Then, I held out my hand to accept the receipt and my change. “Thank you, have a good night,” she said, as she had many times before.

The woman had no idea that the host of the “stupid fishing show” was standing right in front of her. Do you have any idea how hard it was for me to not burst out laughing?
Close Encounters of the Rugged Kind
It wasn’t easy…

In 2008, I fell 20 feet off a ladder and broke my left hip, a few ribs and my right collar bone. So, I spent about a month in the hospital and physio therapy ward. I was sharing a room with an older guy, but the curtain was always drawn, so we rarely saw one another and when we did, it only for a few seconds at a time. There wasn’t much conversation between us either. Next to none, really.

Once, on a Saturday, my show came on his TV set. I could hear it clearly. Within no time, he was laughing his ass off. One of the nurses came in and watched with him for a few minutes too. After she left, the guy yelled over to me, “Hey, have ever seen this guy? He’s a crazy bastard… stupid as hell.” What could I say to this guy? “Um, nope, I don’t think so.” Still laughing, he came back with, “Jesus Christ, I always wonder how some people get their own fishing show.”

Yep, I’ve wondered that too… He checked out a couple days later never knowing that I was the “crazy bastard” who was also, “stupid as hell.”

Back in 2011, I was in the Home Depot in Thunder Bay. I was building a house at the time. I was standing in the isle looking for something and I could tell that there were some people looking at me, talking about me, et cetera. I could normally tell… you learn to get a sense of when someone is going to approach you, to say either something nice or – something “not-so-nice.”

This time it was a very large Japanese family of about 10 or 12 people standing about 30 feet away from me in the same isle. Little kids, adults, older folks… the whole deal. I guess they didn’t have a word in Japanese for Rugged Dude. As they were sort of looking at me and obviously talking about me, I could hear them speaking in Japanese but I could hear Rugged Dude thrown in a few times, right in middle of all this. After a minute or two, a very old woman, who I assumed was the Great grandmother to the little ones (she must have been at least 95) started walking toward me. She was about 4’ 10” and weighed about 80 pounds, soaking wet… a cute little thing. Now standing in front of me, she offered her handshake and said, with a very thick Japanese accent, “Missa Lugged, Missa Lugged.” Then, after Gramma had been in to investigate, the whole family came over.

I often wondered how a 95 year old Japanese woman who didn’t speak English knew who I was. My best guess is that some of her English speaking grandchildren watched my show, and on occasion, she joined them. Friggin’ hilarious!

Close Encounters of the Rugged Kind

When I was living in northwestern Ontario, I would go across into Minnesota from time to time. I knew some of the officers at the MN border watched my show because some of them knew who I was and would sometimes make a comment or two about “last week’s show.” On this particular occasion, I pulled up like I always did and the guy said, “Hey, Rugged Dude.” As I handed him my passport (that has Rugged Dude Carson on it because I had my name legally changed to that back in 2002) and I said, “Hi, how’s it goin’?” He looked at my passport, then back at me… back at my passport, then back at me again. He had a look on his face like he was being set up or punked, or something. “That’s really your name?” So, I guess I had some ‘splainin’ to do. He thought having the name Rugged Dude as pretty “damn rugged.”

Not everyone is a fan, however. Once, while in a Canadian Tire store in southern Ontario, I was approached by this guy who looked like he just hated the whole world. By the look on his face, I’d say that his wife left him, his dog got run over by a dump truck, his house burned to the ground and his pizza arrived cold, all in the same day. With a somewhat aggressive tone, he said, “Hey, you look just like this guy on that rugged show.” I wasn’t really interested in talking to this guy and I think I have the right to decide. He didn’t look like a very nice guy anyway, so screw him, I thought to myself. “Ya, I’ve heard that a couple times before. I haven’t seen the show, but I’ve heard of it.” Then, he really went to work… “Well, ya ain’t missin’ much. It’s a shitty show anyway. I’ve actually heard the guy’s a fag in real life.” Do you realize just how hard it was for me to keep a straight face at this point? All I could say was, “I don’t know… not sure about that.”

So, the guy walked away. And, so did I.

A “fag” in real life? Nice.

Close Encounters of the Rugged Kind

Another time, I was in a grocery store in Duluth, Minnesota and this guy comes up to me, who looked like he wanted to smash me in the face with a 10 pound bag of potatoes. “I know who you are! You’re that rugged guy who kills animals on TV for entertainment. People like you make me sick!” I guess I just wasn’t in the mood for any of this anti hunter bullshit that day. “Listen pal, you got two choices… One, you can fuck off, or two, you can end up with your head in the live lobster tank. Which would you prefer?”

That was the end of that stupid prick.

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