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Into the Outdoors - Outdoor Writers

This week, I originally planned to deal some more with the end of summer, but I just couldn’t do it. The thought is just too depressing. So, I got to thinking that, although Labor Day is almost here, we still have some summer left, so why spoil it? I looked through my mountains of column notes, and came up with info on some old time outdoor writers. I thought it might be fun to look at them.

Let’s start with Russell Annabel. Famous for his writings about Alaska, Annabel’s work appeared in a wide variety of outdoor magazines. I remember him best, however, from Sports Afield. When I was a kid in the sixties, I would eagerly await the publication of the magazine each month. As soon as I’d get it home, I’d scour the contents for an Annabel story. When there were none, I was disappointed.

Annabel was also a fiction writer, and, in retrospect, I wonder if he didn’t sometimes cross the fiction/non-fiction line in his writing. Back then, though, I didn’t care. His tales of encounters with brown bears, grizzlies, rut-crazy moose and other adventures held me spellbound. He really had a knack for painting word pictures for his readers.

Still another great was Ted Trueblood. He is best known for his articles in Field and Stream. He wrote his first article for the magazine in 1937, and continued for forty years until 1977. Throughout his career, his writing reflected his love of the state of Idaho, where he lived, and the hunting and fishing opportunities available there. His articles, however. were interesting to any outdoor person, no matter where he or she might have lived.

Trueblood had a genuinely huge following of fans, including me. On one occasion, humorist Ed Zern, who also wrote for Field and Stream, jokingly wrote that there was really no such person as Ted Trueblood, but that he was just a creation of the editors of the magazine, and that numerous writers actually wrote under the name. As a young kid, I was devastated at the prospect of Trueblood’s non-existence. Newspapers picked up on the controversy, and the magazine was deluged with letters to the editor on the matter. Eventually, Trueblood himself wrote a letter verifying his existence that was published in the magazine, and that put the matter to rest.

Ed Zern was yet another great. His “Exit Laughing” column, which was found at the end of Field and Stream, was truly hilarious. His humor was somewhat like that of the late writer Pat McManus.

A personal favorite of mine was Peter Hathaway Capstick. When he got tired of being a stockbroker, he moved to Africa and became a guide and professional hunter. He wrote a number of books about encounters between humans and animals, in which the humans did not always come out on top. Some of the titles are Death in the Long Grass, Death in the Quiet Places and Death in the Dark Continent. They are almost impossible to put down. In fact, I’ve read them all more than once. He also produced a series of big game hunting videos.

Still another outdoor writing legend is Homer Circle, who served as the fishing editor of Sports Afield for almost thirty years. His articles have, over the years, covered just about every species of fish an angler might pursue. He has also written a number of books, the main focus of which are on bass fishing.

Last, but by no means least, is Don Lewis, who passed away a few years ago. I always considered him to be the dean of Pennsylvania outdoor writers. I knew the man personally, and he was an encyclopedia of gun knowledge. Over the years, he wrote countless magazine articles, newspaper columns and a book. Although he’s gone now, we’ll no doubt see reprints of his work for many years to come.

I hope you enjoyed this little look at some legendary writers. There are, of course, many more, but this is, I think, a good sampling. I hope it stimulates some good memories for each of you.

Next week, we’ll take a look at dealing with bears. They will become more active as cold weather approaches. One has decided to use my yard as a toilet, but so far, he has done no damage.

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