Homer Circle: Outdoors Writer And Fishing Legend Passes

I just learned that Homer Circle, one of the most prolific fishing writers of our time, passed away yesterday.   Here’s a bit more on Uncle Homer’s life and amazing career.

The Fisherman’s Prayer
By Homer Circle

God grant that I may fish
until my dying day;

And when at last I come to rest,
I’ll then most humbly pray;
When in His landing net
I lie in final sleep;
That in His mercy I’ll be judged
as good enough to keep!

Safe to say, Uncle Homer will be a real keeper!  Rest In Peace, Homer…and God Bless the family who mourns your loss.

©2012 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

Conservation World Just Lost One Of The Good Guys

If you’re well connected in the outdoors world and have been around playing this game for a number of years…you know who Bill Stevens of Federal Cartridge fame was.

On the other hand, if you’re into the outdoors and a relative new-comer unfamiliar with the so-called movers and shakers of the conservation world…well, then, perhaps you never knew Bill Stevens.   Still, you were likely aware of his work even without putting a face or a name to those efforts.BillStevens

Bill Stevens passed away yesterday after a year-long battle with cancer that prematurely stole his life.   As the Conservation Program Manager for Federal Cartridge for more than 40 years up until retiring a few years back, Bill’s career established him as one of conservation’s preeminant supporters.

I first got to know Bill back in the late 80s through his work with the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association.   As often was the case, when a conservation group needed some stimulus in terms of money or project publicity, Bill, representing Federal Cartridge, would be there to help out.

In fact, whether it was Ducks Unlimited, The National Wild Turkey Federation, Pheasants Forever, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation or a host of other conservation groups…Bill Stevens was always that “favorite Uncle,” so to speak, who would lend a helping hand.

Truth be known, Bill Stevens worked among a small group of other outdoors individuals in a corporate liaison capacity to forge critical partnerships with the conservation world.   Bill was the point man for how many of us connected with the corporate side of things…and he did his job exceedingly well.

I once asked Bill just how much traveling he did and the subsequent response shocked me.   Out of 52 weeks in a year…Bill told me he was away from home at least 45 of them.   Nights, weekends…it didn’t matter.   At any given moment in time you could have found Bill working a booth on some convention floor not only explaining Federal’s ammunition product line-up, but also promoting the conservation cause in general.

Indeed, what I will remember most about Bill Stevens was his tireless promotion of the conservation cause.   He may have worked for one of the largest corporations in the outdoors industry, but his heart and passion for all things conservation drove his generous spirit.

Back in the early 90s Bill asked if I would edit and rewrite Federal’s waterfowl identification booklet.   To be honest, I was honored to have that opportunity and did not want to disappoint Bill with the trust he had shown in me.

Weeks later after taking on the project, I found myself in Houston at the SHOT Show having a late night meal with a bunch of the guys.   Bill happened to be one of those guys.

Now, I had never fancied myself as an adventurous eater and suddenly I found myself immersed in a world filled with exotic foods my Norwegian heritage palate had never before experienced.   That was about to change thanks to the gentle persuasion of Bill Stevens.

Bill had ordered up an appetizer platter of foods one doesn’t often find north of the Mason Dixon Line.   Try as a I might to graciously decline on the offerings, Bill proclaimed to me…”Braaten, if you don’t try this alligator I will refuse to sign Federal’s check owed to you on that waterfowl booklet.”

Wow…he had me over a barrel.   It was bad enough I didn’t want to appear as a gastronomic wimp, but now my pocketbook was being taunted by the man who held the purse-strings to my recent writing project.

That’s what I sorely miss about Bill Stevens.   In so many ways he was an unassuming man, yet he had a persuasive way about him that effectively got the job done.   He was a gentle giant…still his caring nature for most things outdoors kept things in proper perspective.

In a world filled with inflated egos and self-promoting outdoors personalities tooting their own horns, Bill accomplished more for conservation than most of these folks combined.   He didn’t just talk a good game, his actions were always filled with results that people could observe.

And while a new generation of hunting and conservation enthusiasts may never fully appreciate how Bill committed a lifetime to the conservation cause…there is no doubt in my mind that when the history of conservation is someday written Bill Stevens’ name will become legendary.   Indeed, his contributions to the cause deserve such a lofty recognition.

Funeral arrangements are still pending and will be announced on Bill’s CaringBridge website: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/billstevens

©2011 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.  No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

Ted Nugent Runs Afoul Of The Law In California

And this bit of news from The Outdoor Wire:

Ted Nugent has been fined $1,750 in a California court for baiting deer for his hunting show “Spirit of the Wild”. Nugent entered a no contest plea to that charge and not having his deer tag countersigned at the closest possible location. It could have been worse, Nugent also illegally shot a spike buck on the show but was not charged -that one was dropped after negotiations between his attorney and the Yuba County District Attorney’s office.

In what has become a too-frequent situation with TV hunting shows, Nugent essentially provided the proof of the crime on his TV show. According to California media reports, a Fish and Game warden was watching Nugent’s show on Outdoor Channel and “about fell out of his chair” when he saw Nugent with the spike. After a subsequent investigation, charges were filed.

Nugent’s cameraman, Mitchell Neil Moore and property owner Ross Albert Patterson were both charged with violations and paid fines for illegally possessing an animal and taking an animal with bait, respectively.

To the Fish and Game Department’s credit, they treated Nugent as they would any other violator and did not issue a press release when the charges were filed on August 6.

In this instance, there’s been no comment from Nugent. I won’t defend him, but it’s not the first time that time pressures from tight television production deadlines have caused problems. As expected, Nugent neither denied or dodged the charges, with officials saying he was “very cooperative” in the entire matter.

In what appears to be a matter of poor judgment, “The Nuge” becomes the latest high-profile sportsman to join the wall of shame as a game law violator.   While there have been many other celebs who share this unenviable distinction, in this blog we have discussed two others that come to mind: Troy Gentry and Babe Winkelman.  In fact, as an aside, the post about Babe Winkelman back in 2004 was the second blog entry I ever made on this site.

One of the great advantages conservation officers (or game wardens) have in performing their law enforcement duties is the fact it’s human nature for folks to brag about their exploits in the outdoors.   Whether this is done in front of a TV camera (as in Nugent’s case) or even described in a blog, the fact remains “bragging” often can lead to a citation.

So, how do you feel about these personalities who get so-called “pinched?”   Do you think less of them in terms of respect, or do you cut them some slack realizing the violations happen all the time whether to friends or associates?

Personally, I am a stickler for adhering to the game and fish laws.   I consider it to be the sportsman’s responsibility to be aware of such things no matter how complicated they sometimes become.   And when I read about a high-profile personality, like a Ted Nugent, running afoul of “the rules” it makes me cringe.

To me, at issue isn’t the fact Ted Nugent got busted.   Nope!   Instead, I worry about the message this sends to the non-hunting public when one of our leading, outspoken personalities is shown that he doesn’t necessarily play by the rules.   Indirectly, his actions give us all a bad image…and that bothers me.

©2010 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.  No Reproduction without Prior Permission.