The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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January 5, 2014

Remembering an eventful 2013

BECKLEY — Like any year, 2013 had its high points, as well as a few bad times. Picking a favorite highlight is not easy and probably not even fair.

My professional career took me on some great adventures — Argentina for doves, Alaska for coastal brown bears, a swamp hunt for wild boars, turkey hunting in the palm hammocks of Florida, and then there were rabbits, ducks, quail and, of course, deer.

I watched a new day being born in the wildest of places, like from a fishing boat on the Shelikof Strait to the streets of New York City as I walked into a board room meeting full of nerves. I slept in camps as nice as any five-star hotel, as rank as a trapper’s cabin in Alaska, tents, travel trailers and everything in between.

I earned way too many frequent flier points and free bags of pretzels than I care to mention, but was always welcomed home with smiles and fresh sheets on the bed to rest my wearied soul.

I hosted media events across the country, introducing the latest and greatest outdoor products to the awaiting media ready to fill the magazines and Internet blogs with their opinions and stories of grandeur. I watched as new trends soared like the shooting sport of 3-gun and personal protection while worrying if we are opening enough doors for the next generation of hunters and shooters.

Some events brought me home, like a youth day at the range in southern West Virginia, and I managed to plan and book even more events in the Mountain State for 2014.

But work is work and nothing compares to hunting the hills of home, especially hunting with the ones you most adore. I watched as my son touched the antlers of his first buck and his pure joy of taking his first fox squirrel. I was a witness when the switch was flipped in a young pup as she became a hunting dog. I watched nervously as my daughter grabbed the steering wheel of my truck and drove through the pastures of the farm learning to drive. And for the first time in over 20 years of hunting the opener together, my brother and I killed turkeys on the same morning in the bright spring sunshine.  

I have a few regrets — as humans we always do. We as an industry said goodbye to a few great people who wandered off before us to a better place — some old and one who was way too young. I would give anything to hear his laugh again around the campfire as he relived his first-hand account of fooling a tom turkey into range with calls of a hen turkey — a southern belle, of course. I can still hear his laugh and hope to for a long time.

But, all in all, 2013 was a blessed year and one I am proud to have lucked into and I am proud to have seen it from the center, front-row seats.

Here’s to a new year of more adventures and a greater appreciation of the best life in the world — the sporting life.

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