- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 1, 2002

The nation's anglers and hunters are buzzing with reports that Sports Afield, one of the oldest publications of any type in the U.S., is about to fold.
The once-popular monthly that for most of its 115 years catered to fly fishermen after salmon and trout and bass anglers who preferred baitcasting reels, as well as deer, duck or quail hunters, has only itself to blame if it shuts its doors.
Several years ago the SA editorial board listened to somebody's ill-conceived suggestion that American outdoors sports were headed increasingly toward "non-consumptive" activities an animal rights buzzword if ever there was one. Pretty soon the magazine found itself stuffed with photos and articles about mountain biking, rock climbing, kayaking, hiking, hang-gliding and how to tell a buttercup from an acorn.
Wonderful things, all of them. However, they apparently didn't pay the bills. Do you know why? Because the trout anglers alone in this country outnumber all of the people who partake of the above-mentioned "non-consumptive" sports. Never mind the 30 million bass fishermen and millions of saltwater fishing freaks. As the venerable Casey Stengel used to tell baseball writers, "You could look it up."
SA's circulation dropped like a rock. Traditional readers, hunters and fishermen, stayed away in droves, and the yuppies who SA believed would take up the slack, never did. The end was predictable.
One of our readers, Ralph McDowell, wrote, "The format changed from hunting/fishing to trendy when Bob Peterson sold the magazine [but he] returned it to its hunting/fishing heritage when he bought the magazine back (for much more than he had sold it for). He hired hunting/fishing folks (like Chris Dorsey, formally of Ducks Unlimited) to return the magazine to its roots. So the losers in all this are the current employees who do support hunting and fishing. The trendy folks made their money and have moved on."
Well said, Ralph, but by the time SA was to turn 360 degrees and return to us it was too late.
So now a bunch of good folks have to hunt jobs because some politically correct pencil jockey actually believed that all of the 60-odd million fishermen and around 20 million hunters in America would throw away their camouflage bibs and parkas, don mauve- or teal-color clothing to go rock-climbing, pick dandelions and hug trees. They hoped all of us would want to come together, perhaps to make one gigantic Coca Cola commercial, sort of, "I'd like to sing the world a song, and we yuppies know we're never wrong "
Well, you were wrong again. The shame is that so many innocent people got hurt. Meanwhile, the folks who publish Outdoor Life and Field & Stream, the surviving two of the Big Three, as they used to be known, are smiling from ear to ear.
Hunting William Tell-style Pennsylvania's Board of Game Commissioners gave preliminary approval to the use of crossbows during the upcoming statewide firearms seasons for deer, bear and elk, as well as in special regulations areas during archery seasons.
The use of crossbows has been permitted since 1991 as long as a hunter could prove certain qualifying medical disabilities. Those medical limitations were broadened in 1993. Today about 28,000 Pennsylvanians have crossbow permits. In 2001, the game commissioners permitted hunters to use crossbows in certain counties during the regular and special firearms deer seasons.
Crossbows would not be allowed during the early and post-Christmas archery seasons outside Special Regulations Areas. In addition, crossbows must have a draw weight of not less than 125 pounds, nor more than 200 pounds. All crossbow bolts are to be fitted with a broadhead of cutting-edge design.
The crossbow proposal must be approved at a subsequent Game Board meeting before taking effect.

Look for Gene Mueller's Outdoors column every Sunday and Wednesday, and his Fishing Report every Friday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: [email protected]


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