T wenty-five years ago this month, my first published article appeared in the pages of a weekly newspaper called The Opportunity Valley News. The story was about red wolves and “coywolves” the hybrids between red wolf and coyote.
My next week’s column was about squirrel hunting. And then I wrote something on whitetail and after that, flounder, just in time for the fall run.
What followed is more than 6,000 published articles, 10,000 published photographs, a variety of books, 1,000 plus radio broadcasts, numerous television appearances and nearly 500 lectures, seminars and other speaking engagements.
It has been a wild ride to say the least.
If you had asked me at 19 years of age what my goal was, I would have said to make a living communicating about wildlife and to raise awareness of wildlife conservation through my work.
That’s still my goal for this business.
But it’s even more well-defined and crucial in my opinion.
It also looks a lot different from what it did in 1992, and it must be even more so, going forward.
The higher you climb in outdoor journalism, the less time you have to actually go outdoors. Factor in parenthood, and in my case, reaching out to hurting children for Christ (both far more important than hunting and fishing) and other commitments time outdoors, just gets flat rare—at least rarer than I would like it to be.
But it’s a sacrifice I gladly make.
What we have here at Texas Fish & Game is really a unique vehicle to get the word out on conservation. Even before I had any influence on content, the conservation ethic ran strong on these pages—especially in the saltwater fishing world. It is a publication with owners who know the value of stewardship. More than 20 years ago they had the vision to partner with wildlife classes in Texas schools to provide this publication as a teaching aid.
I still spend time outdoors every week.
But most of the time it is with a camera in my hand to capture images for this publication and my personal wildlife writings. About half the photos you see monthly, including the covers, were shot by yours truly. It is something I enjoy doing.
Images are important and are crucial, not only to the business side of what we do, but to promote resource stewardship.
Many times over the years, I have chosen a camera over a rod and reel or gun to capture those images. Many times I did it begrudgingly, because I really wanted to get into a school of redfish or take a shot at the gadwall lighting in the rice field. I knew, however, reds didn’t produce a check when put in the ice chest, but they did on the camera.
I realize even more now, the imagery and words we provide make sure that future generations can enjoy these pursuits. Now, I choose the camera with joy.
The high school students who read Texas Fish & Game through their wildlife classes need to know that abundant speckled trout populations have a lot to do with efforts of the conservation ethic and funding of the Coastal Conservation Association.
The longtime readers need to see that the “Redfish Wars” kicked off the coastal conservation crusade just as this publication was beginning. Now there are special areas of hatcheries being built for southern flounders to take that species to a new level.
Those young people need to realize the 14 million acres conserved by Ducks Unlimited helps, not only to put teal, mallards and pintail in their favorite marsh, but also to help a host of other wild creatures.
Those who have sewn into waterfowl efforts over the years, need to see the reason these young people can enjoy abundant hunting opportunities is because of their sacrifice.
I can’t get this out to people with a gun or rod in my hand.
It takes a camera in my hand or one filming me to capture these stories, which are far more relevant than stories of Chester Moore gallivanting around the country fishing and hunting. I’ve been there, done that and literally have the scars to prove it.
Loved it too by the way.
Chances are if you see me in the field from now on it will be capturing images, interviewing experts and bringing back to this publication cutting edge issues of stewardship that quite frankly no one else in Texas is touching.
No, I am not retiring from pursuing the great outdoors.
If you think I am giving up flounder or crappie fishing, for example, you’re nuts. I may go less often but I always pick the prime days and usually score.
I have flounder on the agenda as I type this, in fact. I am planning big things for the fall on that front and probably right before a front (pun intended).
I am, however, making this my last year deer hunting.
It’s not because I don’t agree with it.
It’s because, to be as honest as I can, my deer hunting desires died with my father on a friend’s ranch three years ago. He passed away while we were cleaning one of the biggest bucks of his life. Although I am on a lease this year and plan to give it serious effort, this is a good time to move on.
This makes 25 years since I started my career and 30 years since I shot my first buck, with my Dad on a day lease in Llano County. Deer hunting will never be the same without Dad. So after this year, marking that great time with Dad, I will no longer get a lease. I will have to rely on friends to send me a backstrap.
Duck hunting is a different story as I came into that on my own in my early 20s, and I love duck gumbo and fried bluewing teal breasts too much to bow out.
I do, however, know the position I have with this publication and in this industry is not about me. It is about the resource. I have the opportunity, talent and focus to be a catalyst to protect our precious natural resources.
You can only be good at what you believe. For 25 years I have stood for resource stewardship, often when others were ignoring certain issues. I plan to continue that at an entirely new level.
No surrender. No retreat. No fear.
Full steam ahead.
America needs to know the results of billions of dollars in hunting and fishing license fees and excises taxes spent on wildlife conservation. Texas needs a wildlife journalist who doesn’t mind cutting through the BS of politics, the good ol’ boy syndicate and even the industry itself.
This is a new beginning forged in purpose, focus and with a deep love for wildlife and all of the people who steward my favorite creatures and the habitat we pursue them in.
I can write (and edit) with authority on hunting, fishing and all things wildlife because I have lived it my entire life. However, I can only move forward if I am honest with myself and realize my purpose in this position is not to enjoy the spoils of outdoor writing.
It is to bring back the best stories, most unique insight and forward thinking journalism within me and the talented roster here at Texas Fish & Game.
We have everything from big business to well-funded animal rights organizations trying to squash the progress the outdoors community has made. That community can only respond to these threats if they know about them.
My job is to make that possible. And it’s one I do with great enthusiasm.
Email Chester Moore at
Email Chester Moore at [email protected]