The passion for the outdoors is rooted in my soul as deep as the tentacles of a 100-year-old white oak. I daresay that anyone who knows anything at all about your faithful blogger knows that hunting is a major part of my DNA.
That was no different some 15 years ago when, as a young adult, I needed to seriously consider what my future held in front of me with respect to a career. Since the seventh grade, it was understood that I wanted to be a journalist. And looking back, it was crystal clear that those aspirations included covering and/or writing about the outdoors in some capacity.
Charles Alsheimer was among my idols. Growing up just a rifle’s report away from his Steuben County, NY, home (mine in neighboring Allegany County), it captivated me to read his articles and see photos of deer that could theoretically run the same woods that I hunted. And there was no mistake that Alsheimer was among the kings of outdoor media – still in its infancy at the time when compared to today. Staples upon receiving Deer & Deer Hunting each month included checking contents page to see if he had photographed the cover photo and then flipping directly to his articles to read them first.
It was with that admiration and respect that I opted to send Mr. Alsheimer a letter one fall in search of perspective of how I could fulfill my outdoors passion by merging it with my professional career.
What I received back from Alsheimer will stick with me for a lifetime. His counsel was honest, it was clear and it helped shatter an adolescent dream. Ultimately, it also helped me plot a course into what is a very enjoyable career in marketing communications – albeit minus any considerable connection to the outdoors world.
Alsheimer noted that he appreciated my letter, and was humbled by my interest in him as a role model. He added that he has been extremely fortunate in the world of outdoors and that it came with many sacrifices – some that he wanted me to be well aware of before I decided to make a career in the outdoors my life’s calling.
Simply put, he was right. As a young adult, those sacrifices to focus on the outdoors would likely have been too much to bear. The opportunities for working in the outdoors at the time were far less than what they are today. Mass media has literally grown the industry tenfold over the last decade alone.
I still have the letter from Alsheimer. And the fact that he took to time to hand-write a note to me and provide more than a “Go get them, Tiger” message sticks with me as a very sincere gesture. For that I thank Mr. Alsheimer – in fact, I was able to send a note back at the time expressing that as well.
Who knows? Someday I might be able to retire to a career that rekindles my early dream.
For the record: A hunter must possess a child’s imagination when navigating a long sit in the deer woods. It keeps the spirit alive when nothing much else seems to be moving. It’s that same imagination that keeps reading Alsheimer’s articles a favorite of mine. For that wide-framed 10-point buck he’s analyzing in his article, very well could be the next deer I see out of my treestand!