Sports > Schools
A visit with an old outdoors writer: Getting to know the man in the stands, in the field, on the lake
BY Luke Clayton, Special to Star Local News
I try not to write much about myself.
After all, Iím just an old outdoors writer and broadcaster with a passion for writing and, more importantly, spending time in the woods and fields hunting or on the water fishing.
Through the years, Iíve had favorite writers that I read on a regular basis.
Itís human nature for a reader to wonder what makes his or her favorite writer tick. Iím sure many of you have been reading the corner of this fine publication for quiet some time; Iíve been here a long time and I thoroughly enjoy coming to you via the written word each week. Hopefully, some of the experiences and people I meet and write about will help provide you with helpful information and cause you to reflect upon outings you have enjoyed.
Now, about Oleí Luke!
If you ran into me while fishing out on the lake and didnít recognize me from my mug shot, youíd probably think ďHeck, Iím catching more fish than that old boy but he seems to be enjoying himself, even though heís obviously not the best fisherman.Ē Should you walk into one of my hunting camps or into a hunting lodge with a big fire going in the fireplace and see me warming up from a cold stand in the woods, youíd never know the unassuming old guy by the fire was me and Iíd probably never tell you that I make my living writing about the outdoors.
If I did, Iíd be afraid you might ask me something about hunting or fishing I couldnít answer.
In truth, Iím not the most technical of guys; I couldnít tell you where the sear is on a shotgunís trigger any more than I would know how to repair a hole in a fiberglass boat. Iíd rather set there by the fire with you and listen to your stories.
Iíve know few outdoors writers that I considered good that werenít great listeners.
Bob Hood, a veteran outdoors writer from Texas that was outdoors editor for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for more than 40 years is one of the best listeners and outdoor writers Iíve known.
Hood and I are great friends and weíve hunted and fished together on many occasions through the years. Iíve watched Hood interview pro anglers and guides in a manner that was very relaxed. He gleans the information needed for his article through casual conservation and has excellent recall. If you walked up on Hood and I at deer camp, youíd probably find a couple of old guys that share your love for just being out there.
It just so happens we earn our living writing about the outdoors.
Before you get the idea that Iím a greenhorn nimrod, I better set the facts straight.
You need to know I have some knowledge to pass along. Iíve been tramping the fields for 50 years now (I just turned 63) and could tell you story after story about my adventures in the outdoors through the years. Iíve bass fished in Japan, hunted the Rockies and Canadian border while also going south of the border in quest of game and fish. When it comes to spending time in the outdoors, Iíve been around.
I love bow hunting and am part of the Darton Archery pro staff.
Iím a pretty good bow hunter and do much of my hunting from the ground. To be good at anything, whether writing or shooting a bow, one has to be actively involved and I shoot a bow, just as I write, on an almost daily basis. As a full-time outdoors writer, I write about a myriad of topics and, in order to write from an authoritative prospective, I need to be out there doing it.
Sometimes that equates to hunting with a muzzleloader or hunting hogs at night, trying out a new night vision rifle scope. I might be learning a new catfish catching technique from a pro or hunting with a predator pro and learning new tricks to call coyotes in close.
Regardless, itís a pretty good bet I was out there doing what Iím writing about.
I can quickly pick out a writer that is simply relating details from one that is personally knowledgeable on a given topic.
Iím really no different that you (assuming you love the outdoors).
I have a tenacity to stretch the truth about the size of that bass or catfish that broke off or the B & C score of that buck that walked by my bow stand last fall without affording that standing broadside shot I need. My son kids me every time I hold up my outstretched arms, showing the length of the last bass or crappie I landed. Iíve got long arms and he says the dimensions I span more closely depict the length of an adult tiger shark than a keeper crappie.
So, should we cross paths at the boat ramp on a hunting lodge, donít expect too much.
Please donít ask technical questions about parallax of rifle scopes or the best way to install a new impeller on your outboard engine. But, if you want to talk about patterning wild hogs or possibly bow hunting elk or bear, Iím your man. Iíll talk your ears off about how to bait a hole for channel catfish or tighten those groups with your hunting bow.
But put me in front of a crowd and my reclusive nature comes to light.
Iíve found most outdoors writers, when I finally meet them face to face, to be pretty quiet, introspective folks. Keep in mind we are accustomed to spending a lot of quiet time in the great outdoors or at the desk hammering out our next article.
I sincerely hope you will continue to read about the outdoors in the space my editors provide. I promise to keep it real and write only about topics we can relate to. When I cover a new endeavor, Iíll introduce you to the pro sharing his or her knowledge; weíll learn together. When writing about a facet of the outdoor life I feel well qualified to share, I hope you will be able to know through my writing that I have truly been there.
Outdoor tip of the Week
Itís little more than a month until the opener of spring turkey season.
Now is a great time to break out the turkey calls and make sure they are in working order. For most of us, itís probably been months since we practiced mimicking those plaintive hen turkey cuts and purrs that are intended to entice a boss gobbler within bow or shotgun range.
Have you checked out some of the realistic new turkey decoys?
Theyíve come a long way since the collapsible decoys that were so popular a few years ago. Iím planning to use a very realistic strutting gobbler decoy that comes with a detachable fan (tail feathers).
The conservation snow goose season is in effect and Iíve noticed flocks of geese on the move, especially after this last blast of cold weather.
There are few juvenile snow geese as most flocks are made up largely of mature birds which are extremely wary, especially after months of hunting from Canada to south Texas. These migrating flocks are on the move and often stay on a winter wheat or rye field only a couple days before moving on.
Setting out big decoy spreads can actually do more harm than good on these late-season birds.
Iíve enjoyed some red-hot shooting on late-season migrating geese simply by scouting the fields the birds were frequenting and gaining permission to hunt them (most farmers do not relish the idea of geese eating the green wheat they planted for winter forage for livestock). Try to locate a fence row or other place to conceal yourself and get in position well before sunup.
The birds will take off into the wind; position your ambush spot accordingly.