April 23, 2018

Dear TOWA members,

Writers, photographers, scenic painters, and people that endeavor to exist by illustrating the power of their thoughts in words and pictures – are artists.

In the past, every culture had tale-tellers of their folklore and history. These tales related survival, weather, distant lands, and natives unlike anything imagined in the homeland. The stories were inked on scrolls, painted on cave walls, and repeated around campfires. Communication changed little until Shakespeare lit up the English Renaissances.

For many of us our introduction to outdoor sagas was through novelists. Jack London led us to the north woods in Call of the Wild, and White Fang. Herman Melville boarded us upon the Pequod, in Moby Dick. Ernest Hemingway and A.B. Guthrie won Pulitzer Prizes for, respectively, The Old Man and the Sea, and The Way West. Robert Ruark claimed our hearts with his memories in The Old Man and the Boy, while simultaneously, he, Jack O’Connor, Elmer Keith, Warren Page, Peter Capstick, and a host of other scribes handed us express rifles to face the man-killers of Africa.

Outdoor writing was bolstered with accounts by naturalists, folklorists, and historians such as J. Frank Dobie, Roy Bedichek, and Walter Prescott Webb. President Theodore Roosevelt and his sometimes partner and sometimes rival John Muir gave us knowledge of wild lands. Even bear hunting expert extraordinaire Ben Lily provided material about wildlife to an uninformed science community and public.

The Computer Age and burgeoning urban societies shifted perspectives. Today, markets demand more how-to, where-to, when-to, and what-to-use when you get there sales spiels. The airwaves and cyberspace are loaded with infomercials. Print publications are dependent on ads – not subscribers addicted to authors. To the “Gray-Bearded” writers oblivious to storing their experiences in a cloud the future is masked.

But there is a simple resolve. Embrace journalism. Embrace the sales model. Embrace new technology, and embrace the young student communicators who are developing the scientific know-how for the next generation of conservationists. Embrace wordsmiths who love to wet a hook or sleep under the moon, and whose talents compliment us from varying genres. These correspondents help deliver the conservation message to mainstream society. Most significantly, embrace who we are. We are the voice for hunters and fishermen, advocates for the North American Model of Conservation, and watchdogs against practices derogatory to natural resources. We are a loud voice for conservation in Texas! Embrace the essential elements of who we are – and the campfire tale-tellers, the artists, the Gray Beards, will always survive.

Hope I ain’t bored everybody to tears,

Herman W. Brune

TOWA President

About the author 

Michael Bennett

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