As newspapers adapt to a changing world, editors are striving to preserve the things readers enjoy the most.
One of those things, I hope, is our weekly outdoors column that I’ve been privileged to write for the past 13 years.
It is a small part of my broader role covering energy, nuclear affairs and the environment – but it’s always been my favorite duty.
This month, I notified my bosses that I’ve decided to leave The Augusta Chronicle after 29 memorable years.
There were no sinister reasons. I simply have other projects that require more freedom than a full-time reporting job allows.
The good news is that I’ve been invited to continue, as a part-timer, writing the column I enjoy the most: this one.
Did I accept? Of course.
This job is among the most cherished positions in our industry, and those who land such a slot are rarely tempted to do anything else.
Here at The Augusta Chronicle, for instance, I am only the fourth writer to hold this job since Earl T. DeLoach started a local column for hunters and anglers in the early 1940s.
Bodie McDowell became outdoors editor in 1960 – the year I was born – and was succeeded in 1964 by the legendary Bill Baab, who continued the tradition until 2000, when I began writing this Sunday column.
And just as Bill continues to write the Friday fishing report he launched in 1984, I’ll do my best to continue offering the best things I can find here each Sunday.
To paraphrase a favorite song, newspapers are a lot like the Hotel California – “you can check out any time you like/ but you can never leave.”
As always, I am grateful for all the support and kind words from readers who share my fascination with all things outside. See you next week.
TROUT TRYOUT: The experiment to see how well trout can survive in the Augusta Canal played out like a reality show – sort of a piscatorial version of Survivor.
Last April, almost 1,000 tiny hatchlings were packed into a makeshift holding pen and submerged near the headgates.
As they grew, they ate one another.
Soon there were just a few hundred trout, but they were growing larger.
By the time the experiment ended last Tuesday, just 11 fish remained. Some of them were nearly seven inches long.
After surviving the hottest months of the year and eluding (or eating) their cannibalistic siblings, they were released into the canal to swim free.
Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School science teacher Carl Hammond-Beyer, who spearheaded the study to see if the canal could support recreational trout fishing, believes the data shows promise.
“I think it’s marginal, but it’s doable,” he said.
The next step involves new survival studies in re-designed holding pens, and the possible release of a few thousand more trout fingerlings that will be hatched
by Leesa Lyles’ class at Warren Road Elementary School.
Will they survive? It’s too soon to tell.
But if you happen to land one of the 11 survivors, be sure to let Hammond-Beyer know.
GOT GEESE? If you’re not deer hunting this weekend, you might want to stock up on steel shot and try your hand at geese.
Georgia’s early Canada goose season, which began Oct. 12, runs through Oct. 27 statewide, because of a new U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service rule that gives states flexibility to add more days for goose hunters.
Remember, though, that hunters must have a Georgia hunting license, a Georgia waterfowl license, a federal duck stamp and a HIP permit.
SRS DEER HUNTS: You can add one more thing the “government shutdown” managed to shut down: Savannah River Site’s popular deer hunts.
Despite the progress on resolving the budget impasse, it’s too late to salvage the hunts that were to be held Oct. 26 through Dec. 7.
According to a U.S. Energy Department notice, the cancellation also includes the Wounded Warrior and Mobility-Impaired Hunts held annually at SRS, scheduled for Nov. 1-2.
SRS deer hunt fees already received will be refunded, site officials said.
CAMO BAN: If you’re wearing camo in the woods this week, you might need to change before you head to South Carolina’s largest fair.
Columbia’s WLTX-TV reported last week that camo-clad visitors to the S.C. State Fair were turned away, because of an advisory from the Richland County Sheriff’s Office that “deems camouflage as gang related paraphernalia.”
It’s an odd edict, but rules are rules. I think the gangs should wear plaid – or seersucker – and leave hunting attire to the hunters.