Commentary

Outdoor Life

My concept of outdoors is the space between my apartment and a Broadway theater. Turns out, there's a whole lot of shakin' going on in nature. It's not just trees and grass and what passes for pastoral calm in Central Park. There are deer and turkeys and walleyes -- and some of them may find their way onto your plate -- if Outdoor Life, the source for hunting and fishing adventure, has anything to say about it.

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. But 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. They use their bodies, claws and teeth to secure supremacy. West Side Story's Sharks and Jets have nothing on them. 

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.

MAG STATS

Published by: Bonnier Corp.

Frequency: 10 times/year

Web site:www.outdoorlife.com

2 comments about "Outdoor Life".
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  1. David Reich from Reich Communications Inc., April 2, 2009 at 4:09 p.m.

    Fern, when I saw the profile was on Outdoor Life, I was going to pass on it. But when I noticed your byline, I decided to check it out despite being a certified city person.

    It was worth the read. I love your description of outdoor life in your neighborhood growing up, searching for the perfect corned beef. I can relate.

    Great writing.

  2. Nina Lentini from MediaPost Communications, April 2, 2009 at 5:59 p.m.

    Nice one, Fern! I remember the years I lived in Iowa, hearing the shots across the county when pheasant season started. It's interesting to acknowledge the "other" America.

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