Honored to live a Hall of Fame life
President Calvin Coolidge once said, “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not: Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: The world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
So if you believe the 30th president of the United States, then you believe that if you stick around long enough, someone will recognize you just for your persistence. So I guess my persistence paid off and my determination to contribute to the world of outdoor communications is being rewarded, because I recently learned that the Minnesota Fishing Hall of Fame will include me in its 2020 class of inductees. This is a tremendous honor for me brought forth by the current members of the Minnesota Fishing Hall of Fame. I thank them all from the bottom of my heart.
I moved to Minnesota from Iowa in 1981. I had been very active in scuba diving while living in Iowa and was writing articles about that subject and illustrating them with my underwater photography. Once I had established myself in Minnesota, recognizing an untapped niche, I tapped another passion and shifted into hook-and-bullet writing.
Outdoor communications became my full-time career in 1987, and by 1989 realized that even if I worked 16 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks of the year, I was still going to have an income barely above the poverty level. Fortunately for me, Mark Strand, an award-winning writer and photographer, felt the same as I did, and we started a marketing company focused on the outdoors. This provided a nice cash flow, the opportunity to contribute to the success of people and companies in the industry, and – equally important – we could finance our passions: outdoors storytelling and photography.
Strand and I never allowed ourselves to get so bogged down in work that we didn’t have the time to freelance articles to all the publications focused on the hunting and fishing pursuits that we love. We fished with the best anglers in the world, hunted in some of the most outstanding places on the planet, and “researched” stories with great dog trainers, archers, ballistics experts, lure manufactures, and so many more. People would say to me, “Man, I wish I had your job,” and I would reply, “I am the luckiest guy in the world.”
I had some fine mentors along the way. Gary Roach taught me much about the industry and introduced me to some of the icons of our sport. Ron Schara worked with me early on and gave me the opportunity to organize events for him. Glenn Meyer at Outdoor News had faith in me and gave me a columnist slot in his publication. I’ve had some great editors along the way: Rob Drieslein, Steve Pennaz, and Dennis Schmidt to name a few. The list of those whose backs I have ridden on is long, and anyone who makes it into a Hall of Fame didn’t get there on his or her own. It takes a lot of people helping along the way. In my case, it starts with an incredible spouse willing to provide the necessary support.
My wife Rae and I married at a young, tender age and belied the assumptions of some who thought that committing to marriage and a family early in life was the equivalent of a mediocre career life. From the start we made one another a promise that we would always support each other in living our dreams.
I’d like to think that I have supported Rae in achieving her successful career as a corporate executive. On her end, from delaying graduate school to run a resort with me in Herbster, Wis., to gracefully managing through our rice and beans days, I know Rae has more than delivered on her promise to me.