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​A Letter to Ted Trueblood

Don Webster, author badge, myoutdoorbuddy.com

ed Trueblood (1913-1982) was an outdoor writer and conservationist. From 1941 to 1982, he was an editor and writer for Field & Stream magazine.

--Dear Ted,

Although you probably know what’s on my mind, I think you understand that it’s important for me to tell you anyway. You, Corey Ford, Nash Buckingham, Robert Ruark, and Ernest Hemingway were writers who wrote words that captured the essence of the outdoor experience. In many ways, you were responsible for instilling the love of the outdoors in me. The writings of Ed Zern showed me that the outdoor world can be outrageously funny. Patrick McManus continues to make me laugh with his hilarious, inimitable sense of humor.

I owe you a special note of gratitude, Ted. Your simple, easy-to-read style made it possible for a teenager like me to grasp the value and meaning of what it is to be an outdoorsman in the best sense of the word.

Ted Trueblood, photo courtesy of Don Webster
Ted Trueblood

Ted, you taught me the necessity of leaving the outdoors better than I found it, and doing whatever I can to conserve it for future generations. Through your written articles and stories, you enabled me to continually revisit those special moments afield in a way like no other.

I’m sure you see the world moving much faster today than when you were here. Through visual mediums such as television and dvd’s, technology has replaced written, outdoor stories with the near-virtual reality of being there in person. These mediums have entertainment value, but something has been lost in the process. That “something” is the lack of any need for the viewer to use imagination. Through the loss of imagination, the viewer is somehow unable to connect in a way that has real, lasting value. The result is that the overall quality of the outdoor experience has been diminished.

Courtesy of Google

Storytelling with the written word affords us the opportunity to savor experiences that stand the test of time and cannot be duplicated. I know, because I have returned time and again to the words written by my favorite outdoor writers. They have touched my heart in ways that nothing else can. Those images and emotions conveyed through their writing are as important and valuable to me as the best of my own, personal experiences in the outdoors. In a way, some are even more important.

Unless they chance upon an old, hunting and fishing magazine that belonged to their grandfather or stumble across a dust-covered book in a library that was written by one of the old-time, outdoor writers, future generations of outdoor enthusiasts will be deprived of the joy and lasting value uniquely contained in the mystique of written stories.­­­­

Ted, I realize this letter contains a lot of whining and complaining. I apologize. Please allow me to give back to you a few, written images that were inspired by you and the rest of the old-time, outdoor writers. These moments in time forever remain in my heart as precious, living memories.

…I give back to you the sound of wings rushing through the air and the reedy whisper of a drake mallard circling somewhere in the mist as my pulse quickens and I reach for my duck call in that early, morning light…

...After a long day on the water, fresh steelhead steaks sizzling in a cast-iron skillet as I sip boiled, sheepherder coffee and watch the sun slip down behind the trees across the river…

…A covey of quail exploding in front of my dog as it leaps after them and I bring gun to shoulder and all I can see is one bird as I swing through it and pull the trigger…

…I give back to you fishing with Grandpa when I was a little kid, the stringer of perch slipping from my grasp, sinking into the lake and I’m crying as Grandpa takes me in his arms and assures me that we’ll catch more perch, him smelling of Watkins liniment and pipe tobacco…

…My rifle sling digging into my shoulder with my leg muscles cramping and my lungs about to burst as I suck it up and keep climbing because I know there’s a chance the biggest buck I’ve ever seen is on top of that mountain…

…Fishing for catfish in the dark from the bank of the river as me and my buddy fight the night chill with whiskey from his flask and I’m laughing as he tells the same, old whoppers he’s told me so many times before…

…I give back to you the first time I took my six-year-old son backpacking, him a little trooper on the trail, insisting on skinny-dipping in an icy lake, me looking at the photos from that trip 40 years later with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes…

…Standing in my backyard in the middle of September, the weather fickle now with the first hint of fall hanging in the air, the unmistakable, croaking call of the first sandhill cranes as they arrive from the far north and I know my favorite time of year is fast upon me…

…Feeling a vague, indefinable sense of loss while cleaning my guns, storing my decoys, and putting the rest of my waterfowling gear away at the end of the season, already dreaming of the next one as I remember the hunt that I shared with my father that was his last...

Mr. Trueblood, I salute you. Wherever you are, may your lines always remain tight, your powder stay dry, and your beloved java always be hot.

Don E. Webster has been an avid outdoorsman for over 60 years. In addition to being a columnist for MyOutdoorBuddy.com, Don has published three books: "Bury Me In My Waders" An Old Duck Hunter Recalls His Fowl Past, "Double-Ought Buck" a novel, and "Bears, Beer, Trout Tacos, Etc." Short Outdoor Tales & Other Quasi-Kindred Illuminations.

Webster's MyOutdoorBuddy column entitled “Canine Comics" won the Phil Ford Humor Award from the Outdoor Writers Association of California in 2013. Visit Don's website at donewebster.com

He continues to love fox squirrels and hate eucalyptus trees.


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