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Ramble with Storm: Riled about outdoors writing

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stormtight.jpg Mulling things on my morning ramble

with Storm, the family's mixed Lab.

Kerry Luft was on with Charlie Potter this morning on ``The Great Outdoors'' on WGN-AM.

I usually try to catch the beginning of the show as I am getting up Sunday mornings. If it catches my ear, I keep it on downstairs as I start doing writing work.

This morning the show was basically about lamenting about the demise of outdoors writing.

Luft is/was an editor and reporter, whose focus had been foreign reporting, for the Chicago Tribune. He also does occasional, but wonderful, pieces on hunting or conservation.

I wish he would do the outdoors for the Tribune. But it is not going to happen.

The Tribune has shown its disdain for outdoors coverage in so many ways I want to puke.

Potter, obviously, does a half hour radio show for a WGN-AM, a Tribune property. Now the show is buried at 5 a.m. on Sundays. I remember when it was on in a prime, must-listen-to, time slot on Saturday mornings.

Catch my drift here. Maybe it is not so much the decline or demise of outdoors writing/outdoors media as the collapse of such under the Tribune umbrella.

Yes, I proudly have covered the outdoors for the Chicago Sun-Times for the past 17 years.

Luft and Potter did much lamenting about the late great John Husar. But the lion of an outdoors columnist for the Tribune died nearly 12 ½ years ago.

Husar was a wonderful writer and reporter. He tackled big issues with gusto. He could write beautifully about the ordinary in the outdoors. He was a real reporter.

For many of us, the pinnacle of his prose was a piece he did after Spence Petros dropped Husar off on an island on Eagle Lake (if my memory is right, I couldn't find the story in a Google search) and he simply wrote about sitting there.

As a writer, I will just say, my response was, ``Damm, that's good.''

On the other hand, Husar didn't know or particularly care about such ordinary stuff as perch fishing on the lakefront or bluegill fishing in a city lagoon or retention pond.

In the 12 ½ years since Husar died, the Tribune only briefly filled the outdoors columnist slot completely for a few years with Lew Freedman.

Freedman was and is a wonderful writer/reporter. Only he didn't give a rat's ass about Chicago outdoors. His most wonderful and elegant writing was about Alaska.

This stuff cuts me to the quick.

I think covering Chicago outdoors as a beat--that means covering such mundane things as where the fish are biting or if the big duck migration has started and who shot a big buck--is a major gig, a beat worthy of attention on a regular basis.

No, you don't receive Pulitzer Prize consideration for writing about the perch being in at Navy Pier or for writing about the 10-point buck that scored 185; but it matters, matters greatly.

Matters far more than the Tribune has given it credence for in the 12 ½ years since Husar died.

And I resent that with every fiber of my being.

More importantly, I would suggest that Luft and Potter might want to figure out how those of us who still do regular complete outdoors coverage for major newspapers do it.

And I am not the only one doing it.

But part of that is having a company that actually cares about the thoughts, wants and concerns of the ordinary reader, whatever platform that is on. It begins and stays right there.

I would proudly note that the Sun-Times has shown that consistently, even in these tough newspapering times.

People do care intensely about Chicago outdoors, enough that it can be a beat and it is for at least one newspaper in Chicago.

People care about the thousands of sandhill cranes that flew over the Friday after Thanksgiving, that some perch have been in on the lakefront, that the first firearm deer season in Illinois was a good one.

That's just stuff around Chicago outdoors in the past couple weeks.

It matters to me, too; just as it matters to thousands of others.

I was so pissed off that the meathead and I set out in the darkness long before dawn.

Didn't expect much wildlife.And there wasn't.

Heard a few Canada geese on the lake to the west. And a northern flicker flew around the edge as the we came off the old rail bed turned into a trail and headed back into town.

Still steaming, even after a two-mile walk in the dark.


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7 Comments

You bring us what is relevant to us here and now. You aren't afraid to dig in to get details and ruffle some feathers along the way. I feel you are in touch with the outdoors community more than any other writer has been in the last 35 years I've been following the outdoors. For this, I am greatful you are here bringing us up to speed on all topics of our LOCAL outdoors.

Thank you Dale,

Carl Vizzone

Damn, you nailed that one like the Big Hurt on a hanging slider.

You are the reason I buy the Sun times or the first thing on line i look at EVERY Wednesday and Sunday morning. Damn good , relevant reading!!!!

Dale, Thank you very much for hitting the nail on the head. I remember reading many articles by John Husar - and I enjoyed every article. I also enjoy reading your articles every Wednesday and Sunday. I with the Sun-Times would give you a daily column. You are an excellent reporter and MANY readers enjoy the body of your work.

I stopped getting the Tribune every day several years ago. I still get the Sun-Times delivered to my driveway daily. The Tribune only comes on Sunday and the only reason is my wife enjoys the coupons...

Keep up the great work you do. You have many loyal readers who enjoy what you do.

Bob Spagnoli
Buffalo Grove, IL

I share this column on my Facebook page because it is important if people are to know about the wildlife opportunities in Illinois and surrounding states. Your column is another reason I read the Sun-Times and not the Trib.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on December 2, 2012 7:35 AM.

Ramble with Storm: Lollygagging was the previous entry in this blog.

Radio Waves: Outside live first time, between best-of segments is the next entry in this blog.

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