When contacted by Brian Golden, staff writer, to see if I would like to try writing the outdoors column, it came as quite a surprise. I knew my experience in the field was sufficient, but my writing abilities were of personal concern. I mentioned coming up with information for columns would be no problem, but proper punctuation and writing form could be an issue. Thankfully, they were happy to fill in the blanks, so I agreed to try it out. On the 17th of March I received another call from Brian, interim managing editor, asking if I would like to begin a weekly column. He informed me that someone had stated, “it’s like having Bob (McNitt) back,” and that he was receiving positive feedback towards my column. My hopes are that my writing does feel familiar in that the same values Bob had are the values I strive to achieve. The shoes to fill are quite large in my case, but rest assured I will do my best to fill them.
Mentoring has been a practice mentioned in many of my columns. The dictionary definition of a mentor is, “a wise and trusted guide and advisor,” the action of a mentor is to, “serve as a teacher or trusted counselor.” The goal of a mentor is to pass on learned skills in hopes of changing a life. I was raised in the Virginia Beach area until I was almost 13. Although I was able to fish, I always wanted to hunt, but never got the chance because there was nowhere close to go. Upon moving to New York, the “where” was easy. There were woods everywhere, but the “how” was quite a deterrent. I was fortunate to meet the older brother of a friend who hunted and was happy to show me how it was done. His name is Craig Downey, and I will be forever grateful for his time and help. The fact is, he unknowingly changed my life. As many youngsters I was spending a lot of my time running around town getting into trouble. The path I was on was directly diverted by the call of the wild.