Today is Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Forty Years of Outdoor Tales

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40 years ago, tomorrow, Jan. 7 my lovely bride said "I do".

This is a special column for me.

This column marks 40 continuous years of writing an outdoor column in Wilson County. I asked Lisa Snuggs, executive director of the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association (SEOPA) to do some research for me. As far as she could determine and the best we could tell, this is the longest continuously running outdoor column in the United States and maybe in the world.

I regard that as a landmark. It also means, I have outlived a lot of outdoor writers.

But on a sadder note, it means something else. It means newspapers, both daily and weekly are being replaced by the internet on a regular basis.

I started writing an outdoor newspaper column in 1969, in the Portales News Tribune in Portales, New Mexico.

I did a one-semester stint as sports editor there, while a student at Eastern New Mexico University. That column died when I left, (as quickly as I could), and returned to Wyoming.

While in Laramie, at the University of Wyoming, I also did a little sports writing and wrote an occasional outdoor column for the Laramie Boomerang.

Those were days when newspapers were just changing from hot type to camera. It was well before personal computers.

You typed your column, (if you had a typewriter,) and it was then turned into a newspaper column.

Today, I just email the story and pictures to Tommy Bryan and he lays out the page. Does a bang up job, too.

I started writing this column in Wilson County, in 1976 and it has been running continuously, since.

Also, since 1987, the year I joined SEOPA and other writing organizations, the column has won over 80-awards for writing and photography on a state, regional and international level.

I am quite proud of that and it is possible, this column is the most awarded one around.

Much of the credit goes to Tommy and the Wilson Post, (World) for allowing me to deviate from hook and bullet writing to outdoor writing.

And a tremendous amount of credit goes to my wife who has understood the travel involved in a quest for a story.

My philosophy of an outdoor column in a weekly newspaper is quite different from most writers.

I do not see it as my job to tell folks where the fish are biting this weekend. How can I know? It may well change overnight.

My job is to entertain. Certainly, to some extent, it is to inform or even educate. And, now and then, I voice my opinion on a topical subject.

But for the most part, I simply want the reader to say, "I enjoyed that".

In doing so, I can tell stories and I can do so without "pushing" a particular product. Few magazine writers today can do that and I know of no on-line writers who can.

Over the past 40-years, I have had some memorable moments. It is hard to pick out those that really stand out.

My travels over the years have taken me many places most outdoorsmen can only dream about.

I would be badly remiss not to mention the most important achievement of the past 40-years.

Tomorrow, Jeanne and I will have been married 40-years. Without her, none of the rest would have been possible. Tomorrow is a big day for me.

My step has slowed a bit, now. My eyes no longer rival those of an eagle and my hearing is about gone.

My days in the field are shorter and my shots less risky. My body is wearing out and showing the resul of hard use. But my memories are still sharp and the fingers still work.

Lord granting and the boss at TWP agreeing, I'll be telling tales a while longer.

Here are just a few of the memories in pictures. And thank all of you for continuing to read this column.

Contact the author at jsloan1944@gmail.com

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