The First Thirty-Five Years
It’s hard to believe we’ve been at this for thirty five years now. Along the way, since that first issue rolled off the presses of the local newspaper in Marble Falls, Texas, in May 1984, we have worked with a remarkably long list of talented and resourceful individuals, and with some great organizations vital to the future of the outdoors. First among those were fellow TF&G founders Bill Bray, Dan Alvey, and Marvin Spivey. Bray owned the Highland Publishing Company, on whose presses those first issues were printed. Alvey, who we wrote about a couple of months back after his untimely death, was FISH & GAME’s first publisher. And Spivey was its founding editor. We’ve said this often, but without those three guys, this magazine would not exist.
Bray not only provided the financial support needed to create, and then grow, a statewide publication, but drove much of that early growth with his keen marketing instincts and accounting prowess.
Alvey was only on board for the first two years, but made important early contributions, including gaining access to the State of Texas’s lists of registered boaters, hunters and anglers—something never before shared with the public. Those lists were what Bray used to recruit our first subscribers—more than 20,000 of them in our first full year.
Spivey not only established the editorial personality of the magazine—much of which is still there today—he also brought on board an amazing roster of talented contributors: Russell Tinsley, Joe Doggett, Bob Hood, Ray Sasser, Hal Swiggett—a legendary line-up of nationally recognized outdoor writers that gave TEXAS FISH & GAME instant credibility and helped us gain a foothold in both the circulation and advertising markets.
Subsequent editors have also left their marks. Larry Bozka inaugurated our book division, which now totals more than a dozen titles in print. Don Zaidle, another talented spirit gone too soon, elevated the journalistic tone of our content. And now, Chester Moore has furthered our commitment to excellence in outdoor journalism, while increasing our profile as a voice of leadership in conservation.
One of the first organizations that we teamed with was the Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association of Texas (VATAT). More than 25 years ago, this group of ag teachers pioneered one of the most innovative new classes in high schools across Texas—a Wildlife Management course. And we got involved with them almost at the start, exposing our content to the most important asset the fishing and hunting communities have: our youth.
We’ve also worked with Texas chapters of Ducks Unlimited and the National Wild Turkey Federation. These organizations shape the future for hunters and all outdoorsmen through their relentless efforts to maintain and build habitat, not just for the namesake birds of their organizations but for the benefit of all wildlife, and we have been proud to have worked with them and supported their programs.
One of the most significant partnerships we have enjoyed has been with Coastal Conservation Association (CCA). Just as we are celebrating our 35th year in business, CCA is marking the 30th anniversary of its popular and wildly successful State of Texas Angler Rodeo (S.T.A.R.) Tournament, which kicks off again this month. Guided with energetic, genius-level marketing and recruiting skills by Bill Kinney, the S.T.A.R. Tournament has drawn an ever-increasing number of members to CCA and has been a major factor in turning the Texas-based group into a national force for conservation. In addition to keeping the floodgates of new membership open, S.T.A.R. has also awarded tens of millions of dollars in scholarships to participating kids over the years. We have been involved with S.T.A.R. and CCA for more than two decades and count Bill, tournament services director Peggy McMillan and CCA president Pat Murray as good personal friends.
After spanning three and a half decades, existing in two centuries—heck, in two millennia—we’ve definitely been around a long time. But we plan to be around a long time yet, enjoying every minute.