The century-old outdoor magazine just introduced a new design -- online and in print -- and includes four new front-of-the-book sections: hunting, fishing, shooting and gear. The pub's purpose is to provide technical information to the experienced outdoorsman (and woman). The field reports and gear guides are handy for hunters and anglers. The articles are written by pros, alongside regional coverage of hunting and fishing opportunities and annual gear tests.
I know what you're thinking: What's a nice Jewish girl with a cynical sensibility know about hunting and fishing? Bupkis. But I do know magazines, and as a demanding reader myself, I can appreciate when one passes the test. I also know good headlines, and the "Water Torture" slug for hardcore rain gear was killer copy.
Admittedly, I don't know anyone who carries half a deer for fun, like our cover boy, though I'm sure PETA would prefer the deer carry him. Still, I'm not unfamiliar with the practice. Growing up in Pennsylvania, the first day of deer hunting was almost a state holiday -- and I understand the problems of deer overpopulation.
As for Outdoor Life, it serves a distinct public -- one that's comfortable manhandling a 30-pound pike or posing with a dead buck. However, one photo -- of a father and daughter team -- raised eyebrows. In it, 10-year-old Rachel sits proudly with the deer she dropped with her "18½-inch-wide stud at 90 yards with her .243." Personally, I'd prefer prepubescent girls to play soccer, not lock and load their Winchester and casually blow away Bambi. Pity the classmate who doesn't invite her to a party.
However, for the outdoorsman, the magazine delivers the goods. "Fish Like a Guide" is a quick-hit of secrets from 13 top guides nationwide, including their favorite recipes. Similarly, in the Shooting section, today's crop of 6.5s is examined with care. The underrated caliber has finally arrived. If I had a gun, I'd head for Wall Street and drop the CEOs from AIG, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Bros., Fannie Mae, etc. Then I'd stalk Bernie Madoff. Before you write to applaud or slam me, I'm joking! As comedian Bill Maher would say, "I kid, I kid." I would torture them instead.
This issue had stories on turkey hunting, fly-fishing basics and tracking black bears in Alberta, Canada. If any of these topics make your blood race, you are Outdoor Life material. Which means you'll appreciate the front-of-book "Snapshots" page. Slugged "Ready to Rumble," it's a picture of cape squirrels of Namibia in mortal combat. The Sharks and the Jets have nothing on them. The squirrels use their bodies, claws and teeth to secure supremacy.
Many of the deer hunters profiled in the "Deer of the Year" section were from small towns in the Midwest or West. It's rare to find anyone from the Upper West Side adept at stalking gobblers. In many communities, like the one I grew up in, hunting and fishing were generational. My family hunted for the leanest corned beef, which, in the 1970s, wasn't as easy to capture as it is today. Once we tracked down our already-cured prey, we gave a collective cheer. Then the quest for the best rye bread would begin.
In short, I am not the Outdoor Life type. (Who, judging from the ads, is interested in male enhancement, all-weather floor mats and silver coins.) But when it comes to serving its readership, OL hits the bulls-eye.
Published by: Bonnier Corp.
Frequency: 10 times/year
Web site: www.outdoorlife.com