Only once since 1987 has outdoor writer John L. Sloan failed to win an award for his writing and photography - and that was a year that he forgot to submit any entries after spending time in a coma and in various hospitals.
At last weekend's annual banquet of the Tennessee Outdoor Writers Association (TOWA), Sloan again brought home awards for columns published in the Wilson Post, bringing his total for material published in the Post (and the former Wilson World) to 72 since 1987. His awards have been from state, regional and international outdoor writing organizations.
"Since I now do very little magazine writing, 95 percent of my work is for the Wilson Post," Sloan said. "As a result, I constantly meet newer outdoor writers who may have heard of me but had no idea I was still alive. It is great to win an award or win awards on an almost annual basis. The consistency is something special. I know of no other newspaper, daily or weekly, that can claim that winning consistency. There may be some, but I don't know about it. I guess it proves I really am still alive.
"It is also great to prove there is some quality material being published in smaller venues. When you compete against the big-name editors of the huge daily papers across the country, winning is a real honor."
Sloan has been the outdoor writer for the Wilson World and Wilson Post since almost day one.
"I can't even remember what year (Wilson Post Sports Editor) Tommy Bryan hired me, but I know it was soon after the Wilson World was started. I have been here a long time, written a lot of words and still have some left," Sloan said. "The secret to all the awards is that I am a writer, not a reporter. That is it in a nutshell. Tommy lets me write what I want, and I try to write what people - not just outdoors people, but all people - read. For that, I am truthfully thankful and, again, honored by the awards."
Sloan won first place in newspaper editorial writing with his column on the change in deer-buck bag limits, "It Ain't Rocket Science." He also placed first in newspaper feature writing, his forte, with "A Lesson in Ethics."