More than 25 years ago, we started Outdoor Guide Magazine. I have been lucky and fortunate enough to watch it grow into what it is today, and as I reflect, a few things come to mind.
Our first magazine was a 32-page publication, with mostly black and white photos and graphics. In recent years, we have averaged more than 50 pages per issue, with color on every page.
We started with a couple of writers, one editor and a small sales staff. Today, we can boast of more than 100 content contributors, and our loyal list of advertisers continues to grow.
Now we deal every two months with public issues such as chronic wasting disease, outdoors education and conservation. We provide great advice in columns such as Claudette’s Kitchen, ferocious humor in Randall Davis’ tales of removing animal pests, and detailed techniques for outdoor sports such as those provided by fishing expert John Naporadny. Five of our writers have been inducted into the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame (see Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame story).
It’s a magazine with a lot of news and features, but it’s also got a soul.
Some of you may have noticed we have a section in the staff box on page 8 called “In Memoriam.” We established that years ago to honor our passed writers and editors.
Jared Billings, a classmate of mine at Crystal City High School, was the first to be recognized in that manner and, inevitably, others have joined the list.
I spent many hours floating Ozarks rivers and camping on gravel bars with Jared. Without his early guidance, the magazine would not be what it is today. He was our first Outdoor Gallery editor, and he took pride in gathering photos and supplying rich and informative captions.
Most recently, Ron Kruger passed, and the number in our Memoriam box grew again. Ron was the first editor of Outdoor Guide Magazine and had a regular column with us for many years. He had perhaps the most influence on my writing, and when it came to photography, many say he was the best. A more talented outdoors journalist, I may never meet.
While Billings and Kruger were my early outdoor mentors, legendary fly fisherman and our original Gravel Bar Gourmet, Henry Reifeiss, was a huge influence on the magazine in its middle years, and a real throwback to Jack Kerouac. I miss Henry’s prose as well as his great friendship.
We’re sad to report two additions to the Memoriam box just this year – Barbara Perry Lawton, the writer of wonderful nature columns, and Spence Turner, who knew so much about the outdoors that he couldn’t help being a teacher. I miss the others, too – Mark Hubbard, Bill Harmon, cartoonist Richard Engelke and good friend Danny Hicks – miss them all greatly. But each year, our staff grows, including such recent additions as Brent Frazee and John L. Sloan.
With the new writers and our many favorite regulars, we continue to be informative and entertaining.
ALONG THE WAY
As a small and somewhat inexperienced staff in the beginning, we made many mistakes. Once, I wrote this lead to a story: “The pallbearers carried the caskets one by one from the alter.”
Just days later, I got an unsigned post card saying, “What kind of an editor are you? You can’t even spell altar.”
I had much to learn.
Typos plagued us most in those early years. One time, we got the year wrong on the cover. How could that happen? I laugh now at those missteps, but there were many along the way. In 25 years, never has there been a perfect issue, and we know there never will.
For more than 20 years, we participated in outdoor consumer shows such as the St. Louis Boat Show and the Let’s Go Fishing Show in Collinsville. We hired models to sell subscriptions. We were on a roll.
Many of you may remember signing up for the magazine and getting a free gift. Each year, we added thousands of new readers that way.
We no longer do that, as we cannot print enough magazines to meet the demand.
Today, the question is, “What do the next few years hold?”
But for now, enjoy your Outdoor Guide, and be safe while enjoying the great outdoors.
(Editor’s Note: We’ve made a change to our publication dates for next year, so you will want to look for your first magazine of 2018, the January/February issue, to be delivered the first week in January. The March/April issue will arrive the first week of March. If you would like to subscribe and make sure you don’t miss any issues, go online to outdoorguidemagazine.com)