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The joys of writing about the outdoors

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POSTED July 15, 2010 1:55 a.m.
For the past 31 years I have been fortunate enough to write my outdoor column Tight Lines as a weekly column. It began innocently enough one spring day in 1979 when I stopped by The Tracy Press to grab lunch with my buddy Steve Wampler and the Press Sports Editor Tom Mauldin.

Over a sandwich and a beer, Tom conned me into writing an outdoor column for the Tracy Press. As years went by, I added other cities, and at one time Tight Lines was running in over a dozen papers.

I can’t believe that so much water has gone down the river since then. Fishing rods went from bamboo and fiberglass to composite graphite fibers. Bow hunters went from recurve bows to compound bows with a complex array of cams and cables.

A great many things have changed on the outdoor scene and yet just as the old adage observes, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

I still get a thrill from the strike of a fiesty rainbow as it smashes my fly, and those darned pheasants still seem to fly faster than I can shoot. The smell of fresh coffee and cooking bacon on a campfire is still one of life’s greatest joys. And the magnificent colors of the clouds at sunset still lift my soul.

Over the years I have wracked my brain to come up with some insightful outdoor observations to share with you each week. It has been a delightful experience that has challenged me to seek new places, and new quarry to peruse.

Thirty years ago I was very concerned with how many fish I could catch, or how many birds I could shoot. With the passage of time, I have learned to observe more and kill less. I now consider a hunt a success if I was able to stalk close enough to take a shot with a camera or with a bow.

Bringing home the meat is simply a great bonus, it is the experience of being alive and afield and feeling the wind in my face that provides the real rush.

I have encountered not only some fascinating critters but some fascinating readers as well. I have laughed till my stomach hurt at the fellow who raised his shotgun and yelled “Bang, Bang” but forgot to pull the trigger.

I have cried till my shirt was wet as we lowered an old angler into the ground. I have made friends in a trout stream and swapped lies on coon hunts over a jar of moonshine. My heart has raced as I discovered a rattler 2 feet from my face, and my heart almost burst with joy as a young angler hooks his first fish.

It has been an incredible experience to be able to share my outdoor world with each of you. I have been encouraged over more than three decades, by you, the people for whom I write.

You have called, written, emailed, and stopped me on the street, to share your words of encouragement with me. You suggested that I compile some of the many columns into a book and I finally listened.

After 31 years in the making I just got the proof copy of my new book, “Tight Lines, Observations of an Outdoor Philosopher” this week.

It has finally become a reality and I hold it in my hand. If you’d like to check it out you can go to www.createspace\3452025 which is the page assigned to Tight Lines by my publishing house, a subsidiary of

Hopefully, you will have as fun reading Tight Lines as I did writing it. Feel free to contact me any time with your thoughts at Sharing with you has been a joy. Thank You!
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