Murder, Mercy Killing, or Suicide??

Last month, two of the most important outdoor magazines ever, Outdoor Life and Field and Stream ceased to exist. They might hang around in some electronic form or other for a while, but make no mistake; they are gone. They covered the outdoor scene for seventy-five years or more, with Field and Stream doing the upscale end of the scene and Outdoor Life the blue collar. Despite this, everybody read both of them.  They featured writers who, at least in their time, became famous. These included Robert Ruark, Corey Ford, Jack O’Connor, Gene Hill, Lee Wulff, AJ McLean, and many others.

Angus Cameron, the legendary editor at Knopf, published many of these writers in the Knopf Borzoi series. He was Jack O’Connor’s editor and got his Rifle Book into the New Yorker and the New York Times. The writer’s names were household words, in a way that never seemed to happen in magazines on other subjects. And now we don’t even get an announcement of their deaths in the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal.

These magazines taught several generations of boys not only how to be sportsmen, but how sportsmen should act. And now they’re gone. I do not understand this. Is it that all their fans are dying or dead? It is certainly very not a desirable demographic. I have a theory that something is happening to all paper magazines. I will examine this in the next two weeks, and ask the opinions of a few veteran “Outdoor Writers”, including Hal Herring, Tom McIntyre, John Barsness, Matt Miller, Jim Babb, Terry Wieland, and Seth Norman— some very different perspectives. And more, and worse…


  1. I had two large packing boxes of back issues given to me by a friend of my father’s. I read them to pieces also.

  2. Steve, I am saddened by this but not surprised. Back in the nineties I was on the masthead of Outdoor Life and a frequent contributor back when Jim Fergus was one of their field editors. The highly regarded art director of Sports Illustrated, Hans Kluetmeier sent me a letter after he saw my first assignment in Outdoor complimenting my work, shot with a Hasselblad in Black and White on the Apache Reservation. My last assignment for F&S was with the wonderful Geoffrey Norman out in wilds of Nebraska. They never paid worth shit but it was always an adventure. R.I.P.

  3. So now we have a sort of Gray’s, the Modern Huntsman, etc, a surge of online blogs and such. Some of this is very good quality, some isn’t. I’m still hungry.

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