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Ripon outdoors author part of Saturdays Bookfest
Don Moyer author of Tight Lines: Observations of an Outdoor Philosopher shows a rattlesnake skin that he stitched for his son. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL

• WHAT: Great Valley Bookfest
• WHEN: Saturday, Oct. 27, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• WHERE: Bass Pro Shops/Orchard Valley complex on Union Road at the 120 Bypass
• MORE INFO: Go to

RIPON – Don Moyer lives 200 yards from the Stanislaus River.

His fly fishing rod is always rigged up and sitting in his garage, and in less than five minutes he can have a line floating across the top of the water hoping to pull out a quality trout.

That’s the life of an outdoorsman – somebody that in Moyer’s case chronicles his experiences doing everything from fishing and hunting to catching rattlesnakes and searching for arrowheads.

For more than 30 years Moyer has been writing a weekly column – Tight Lines – that has appeared in newspapers throughout Central California. What originated in the Tracy Press in 1979 quickly spread to the Manteca Bulletin and then out into Oakdale, Riverbank, Ceres and Escalon – gaining momentum among other lovers of the outdoors that appreciated Moyer’s unique style and varied approach.

And when he talks about his book of columns that he compiled – Tight Lines: Observations of an Outdoor Philosopher – at the Great Valley Bookfest this Saturday at Orchard Valley, Moyer will convey the passion that he has had for nature since he was a kid.

“It’s the freedom that you have – not having to be locked inside of an 8x10 office all day,” Moyer said of what draws him to the outdoors. “It’s something that I’ve always loved.”

But piecing together the columns wasn’t necessarily an easy task.

Given the span of his career, Moyer estimates that he’s penned more than 1,500 of them – some of which he actually had to scan through microfilm to find and copy. Narrowing them down and putting them into individual sections – fishing, conservation, family, hunting, philosophy etc. – presented its own challenge.

But the work itself gave Moyer a chance to not only relive the experience that he wrote about, but also the praise that he got from people who appreciated the time that he put in to pen his musings.

“I really liked the notoriety that came with writing those,” he said. “Today I get emails, but back then I’d get fan mail and people would thank me for tips about certain spots that they’d fish or the fact that it’s a general outdoor column and not just a hunting or fishing column.

“And at point you’re somewhat of a mini celebrity. I had a guy from Bulgaria send me an email asking if I’d ever considered putting all of my columns into a book. He said that he’d always read them – he was a missionary over there doing God’s work – and thought it would a good idea. It went from there.”

And since then other people have taken notice of his work.

During a trip to one of the weekly Manteca Farmer’s Market nights, Moyer said he introduced himself to somebody at a church booth and got a unique reaction from one of the ladies behind the table.

“She said that she always read my columns and had always wanted to meet me and get my autograph,” Moyer said. “That was cool. It’s good to know that there are people out there that appreciate what it is that you do.”

And even though Moyer is an avid hunter and fisherman, conservation is a major part of his outdoor philosophy and something that wholly supports. He donates items such as rattlesnake hatbands that he makes himself to organizations that invest in preserving habitat and restoring natural populations.

“I believe that some wilderness streams shouldn’t have a hatchery truck come through – natural trout should be able to exist there,” he said. “Sometimes that I want to find a place to fish where there aren’t any human beings.

“It’s an obligation that we have to preserve these places. It’s like people that grew up in a town and owe a payback to the place that gave so much to them. It’s the same thing with the outdoors – we have a chance to appreciate and improve it.”

Tight Lines: Observations of an Outdoor Philosopher can be purchased by visiting and searching for either the title or Moyer’s name or by visiting