I have big plans for the next couple of years, God willing and creeks don’t rise. I have repeatedly told my wife that when I’m done fishing two days a week (or hunting two days, in season) and playing golf one day a week, she will have my undivided attention.
On those other three days — the sabbath being a day of rest — she will have me underfoot for various honey-do list items, not restricted to throwing out junk in the basement, mowing grass, raking leaves, trimming tree limbs, playing with the grandson, taking out the trash, painting, etc.
By the time you read this, I will have joined the ranks of the retired, as in, 36 years of outdoor writing in the rear-view mirror and a bucket list of things to do.
The journey to this laptop started in 1985, when the afternoon newspaper I was working for in Winston-Salem, N.C., covering high school sports, minor-league hockey, golf and Wake Forest sports, was deemed no longer profitable by some bean-counters in Richmond.
Part of the staff was absorbed by its sister morning paper. Since I had been in charge of the afternoon paper’s sports department, I guess the powers that be figured they needed to keep me around. Two old-school newspaper guys, Joe Doster and Joe Goodman, approached me with the idea of writing an outdoors column for the Sunday paper.
Why? It was common knowledge I took a week of vacation every November to go to the Virginia mountains to deer hunt, and a week of vacation in July to go to North Carolina’s Outer Banks to fish.
I guess that’s how you become an outdoor writer.
Doster told me it mattered less how good a hunter or fisherman I was than discovering people who were good and telling their stories. He also predicted I’d be writing for Outdoor Life in 5 years. It took 4 years.
Anyway, that gig ended in 2006, after almost 22 years, when a couple of pinheads in charge of the paper figured they didn’t need anybody writing the hunting and fishing column anymore. I found out on my 50th birthday, a couple of hours after I’d killed a nice 8-point buck. Talk about instant highs and lows.
After a few months, I was rescued by Todd Masson, longtime editor of Louisiana Sportsman. He had a new South Carolina magazine that needed an editor. Would I do it? It took a New York second to say yes. A few years later, I added the North Carolina magazine to my portfolio, and a few years after that, the two were combined into what is now Carolina Sportsman.
Along the way, I’ve made friends of some of the best writers, fishermen and hunters around, and I have loved most every minute of it. One of those guys, Brian Cope, will replace me as editor beginning in the January magazine. I will get to enjoy the magazine when it arrives in the mail, instead of every day of the month. I hope you will continue to enjoy it. It’s been great.
See you in the duck blind, the deer stand, the turkey woods, and on the deck of a fishing boat.
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