A READER WRITES: Losing Field & Stream

The commentary below came in response to a second PEEK post about harsh criticism of the Bush administration from a most unlikely place: the editors of Field & Stream. It is posted exactly as written.

It was, bar none, my father’s favorite magazine. A dedicated western outdoorsman—the kind who spent his winters tying flies and hand wrapping the threading on his split bamboo fly rods the way gardeners yearn over seed catalogs—the monthly arrival of his FIELD AND STREAM was a near religious experience. Dad would slip into his most comfortable flannel robe, pour himself a generous Scotch on the rocks, and settle into his big chair for an evening of close but worshipful attention. He was a kind and wonderful man, a Republican of a quaint and vanishing species by natural conviction.

His favorite magazine had no particular ideological tilt or political ax to grind beyond at Teddy Roosevelt sort of conservationism and a profound respect for what it called “the outdoors.” Its readers were hunters, men born, bread and comfortable around guns, so it generally opposed most fire arms restrictions. But it never stepped off the cliff into wing nut territory about it and as the National Rifle Association morphed from a sportsmen’s club to the snarling “You’ll-have-to-pry-my-cold-dead-fingers-from-gun!” zealots of today, had the decency to seem a bit embarrassed about it.

My father is long gone now, his ashes scattered on the sunny side of a mountain overlooking his favorite Montana trout stream. But he has plenty of modern decedents who look forward to their monthly dose. It was said that when LBJ watched Walter Cronkite denounce the Viet Nam War, he told Lady Bird, “We’ve lost the country now.” If George W. was smart enough, he would recognize a similar moment as FIELD AND STREAM deserts him.

Patrick Murfin

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