Back when I started this column in 1966, it was common to see entire columns of season’s greetings, but now, somehow, anyone wishing anyone Merry or Happy anything anywhere seems to have gone out of fashion, if not become outright politically incorrect.
The sudden onslaught of an old-fashioned winter like this gives a man the down-time to think, maybe even go a little retro and remember who and what helps in the making of a long-running outdoors column.
So, to the wild critters so crucial to this outdoors column: the best I can do is hope they went into what looks like a hard winter in good shape, wish them some warm spells and no killing spring storms. To my most constant outdoors companion and frequent character in these columns, Beau, my Brittany — I’ll keep on frying extra bacon to help him combat the cold.
To the doctors who keep this old hulk up, if not “and running,” at least out there where you have to be to write an outdoors column: Drs. Reimer, Bailey and Ferries in Red Deer, Drs. Savage, Culver and Zochodne in Calgary – three of the six also love to hunt and/or fish.
To the folks at Red Deer Toyota and Don’s Tire who keep my rig up and running and, more importantly, off-road where the good stuff happens.
To Wayne and John and Rick, and others at John Wayne Computers, who do amazing work, explain it well, and quickly bring my computer “up” from “down” for reasonable fees: all a rarity in a service industry rife with BS and ripoff artists, and don’t get me started.
To my best and most constant editors: Jamie Nesbitt at the Brooks Bulletin, Rob Miskosky at Alberta Outdoorsmen, Canada’s best outdoors magazine, and Rick Zemanek and Annette and Diane at the newsroom front desk, and everyone at The Red Deer Advocate, where this column started.
To all my outdoors writing colleagues, mentors and friends everywhere, but particularly Lefty Kreh in Maryland, John Gierach in Colorado, Jim McLennan in Okotoks and Neil Waugh of The Sun in Edmonton, with all of whom I have had the pleasure of hunting, fishing, or both and all of whom I love to read.
To Red Deer fishing guides and friends, Garry Pierce and Dwayne Schafers, and their spouses, Connie and Marcie, who do shuttles and truly fabulous “shore” lunches.
To Dale Malin and staff at Sportsmen’s Den, a big, but old-timey store, where Anglish and Huntarian are still spoken, as opposed to the big box places where the less said the better.
To Bud and Dot Haynes and everyone at Bud Haynes & Co. Auctioneers Ltd. and to Vinnie Chocholacek and Ward Robinson, Jr. for all they do to help gun owners and wannabes hack through the jungles of our federal anti-gun laws and to lawyer for Richard Fritze who’ll “Ride Shotgun for You” if worse comes to worst.
To Jim Stelfox, one of the last real field fishing biologists left in Alberta, and to Carl Hunt, a legend in that field, retired in Edson, and now free to speak his mind publicly about federal and provincial water and fisheries management atrocities and to Mel Kraft, retired at Rocky Mountain House, who, with Carl, re-built the North Raven River.
To Ken Nowicki, out in Cranbrook, who reports he is “flunking” retirement because folks with fish and wildlife cases insist on his legal representation. He helps keep this column between the fence posts as does another frequent emailer, Kelsey Kure, and particularly Kelsey’s grandparents, Elmer Kure, Alberta’s ranking conservation guru, and spouse, Helga.
To landowners here and there, who let me on and in, most of whom have become good friends, and who shall remain anonymous, for all the right reasons.
To many hunting and fishing buddies and acquaintances, essential characters in an outdoors column: Mac Johnston, longest-standing and Roger Fink, the oldest, who we missed this fall, as we did John Horn, and to Don Hayden from Alberta’s deep south and youngsters like brothers Robert and Ken Short, and another two elders, the two Reg’s from Rocky, Wickens and Morley; I’ve gotta go with these last two one day next season, for what I suspect they can show me about the out-west area I think I know so well.
And to the readers from all over who keep me writing by their encouragement, particularly at this time of year when they order my books or turn up at the door to pick them up.
And last, to the most frequent character in these columns, my beloved “Herself” of 47 years, who neither hunts nor fishes, but encourages me to get out there, clips, files, sometimes photographs, dotes on Beau, etc., etc., and even has the courage to make a computer keystroke I don’t dare when I hitting the wrong key already got me in the trouble. To one, to all: Compliments of the Season; Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Bob Scammell is an award-winning outdoors writer living in Red Deer.