“Dropping Anchor” is the idiom once used by renowned Outdoor Writer and Columnist, Dick Nelson, as he signed-off each week. For a long time, that’s the way Dick wrapped up his outdoor column in this publication and in many others.
Dick Nelson “Dropped Anchor” for the last time when he lost his courageous battle with cancer at the age of 76 in June of 2016. I say courageous because of the inspiring way he confronted his fate.
I had the opportunity to visit him shortly after he got the bad news and then again right before his passing. When he first told me of his terminal diagnosis, I remarked what a tough break it was, and he immediately replied, “No, I’m perfectly okay with it.” You could tell by his demeanor as he spoke those words that he wasn’t just saying that for my or anyone else’s benefit. He truly was at peace with it. His faith and outlook on life and death clearly prepared him for the moment. He took it in stride in what can only be described as heroic. In fact, I was told hospice staff used his courageous example to comfort others sharing similar circumstances.
Dick Nelson’s career spanning 50 years as an outdoor writer was a stellar one. The Fulton Press reported upon his death, “One of the state’s most respected outdoor writers, Nelson was a member and past president of the New York State Outdoor Writers Association; a member and past president of the New York Metropolitan Outdoor Press Association and a member for more than 40 years of the Outdoor Writers Association of America.”
Dick not only wrote this very column from 1975 until his passing, he wrote for the New York Daily News, the Albany Times Union and many other important newspapers.
When Dick submitted a column, he insisted his content not be edited. Some publications had a problem with that as Dick plainly spoke his mind in both word and print. He was not known for pulling punches especially on issues he was passionate about regardless of the consequences. Just one more example of the courage demonstrated in his fearless demeaner.
In that spirit, the Dick Nelson Scholarship was established by Joe Nastke and Jim Bertram. It is administered through the Columbia County Sportsmen’s Federation in tribute, and to shine a light upon Dick’s legacy. Since its inception, the fund has donated thousands of dollars to high school graduates who value the outdoors, and plan to pursue a career in journalism that maintains a strong connection to the outdoors.
Sadly, outdoor columns are not as prevalent as they once were. Hard to imagine now, but some of the larger newspapers had as many as two outdoor columns per week and some had one per day. But they have been falling away from many publications throughout the state for some time now.
The crazy thing is it appears that trend is continuing despite the current growing popularity of hunting, fishing, and outdoor activities. Over these past five years, I have experienced nothing but overwhelmingly positive feedback from readers with many stating the outdoor column is among their favorite sections and keeps them subscribing and buying newspapers.
The industry at large just doesn’t seem to place that same value on outdoor columns the way it once did.
That being said, regrettably I am announcing this will be my last column. It has been my pleasure to, what I hope has been somewhat of a continuation of the spirit, if not the eloquence of Dick Nelson’s Outdoor Column. I say that since I strove to not only report, but to challenge bureaucrats and politicians when they make misguided, misinformed, or outright boneheaded decisions that adversely affect sportsmen, sportswomen, and gun owners.
I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to have done just that for the past five years. I’d like to thank all the readers who have faithfully followed my outdoor column, week by week. I now bid farewell and wish you all the very best.
So, I don’t think Dick Nelson would mind if just once, I borrow his closing words and say,
“Dropping Anchor,” for the last time.
Happy Hunting, Fishing, and Trapping
News and Notes
Dr. Grant Woods to present at Prattsville VFD 8-12-21: The Prattsville Community Church is sponsoring a Brooks BBQ featuring a presentation from renowned Wildlife Biologist Dr. Grant Woods, host of “Growing Deer TV.” It all happens on August 12th at the Prattsville Volunteer Fire Department at 47 Firehouse Drive in Prattsville.
Dinner and presentation is at 6:00 pm but doors open at 4:00 pm with sporting goods vendors, chance auction, and door prizes including a CVA Accura Muzzleloader. Cost is $15.00 for dinner and presentation, $10 for full takeout dinners and $6.00 for chicken halves from 4-5:30 p.m. For tickets, call or text Daniel Lane at 305-401-1674, or Jane Lane at 518-299-3551.
Save the Date for Greene County Chapter of Ducks Unlimited Banquet: Jeff Holiday and the Greene County Chapter of Ducks Unlimited want you to “save the date” for their banquet scheduled to be held at Anthony’s Banquet Hall in Leeds on September 26th. More information to follow.
Lake Taghkanic Bass Tournament Schedule: The last Lake Taghkanic Bass Tournament will be held on August 14th from 4-11 a.m. Entry is $40 per person and includes lunker prize entry. Weigh-in is at West Beach. 100 % pay-out for 1st place, 30% for 2nd 25%, 20% for 4th and 15% for 5th 10% with 6th place winning their entry fee back.
Tournament rules are five fish per boat, fish must be alive at weigh-in, live bait is allowed. Boats must have a live-well. For more information call Bill Johnson at (518) 537-5455.
Remember to report poaching violations by calling 1-844-DEC-ECOS.
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