Western Hunter Magazine July/August 2019 #70 - Page 98

VIEW FROM THE MOUNTAIN RYAN HATFIELD, EDITOR Thanks for the Honor Time to hit the trail in search of new adventure M y first back-page column for Western Hunter Magazine was called “Hunting’s High- est Honor”. The message was that in the end, the highest honor you can have in hunting is to simply be able to pass on the knowledge and tradition of what you love to the next generation and watch them take it and run up those hills while you and your weary bones are content to rest at camp. For me, another great honor I’ve had the privilege of experiencing is be- ing a hunting magazine editor. I’ve been fortunate to make many, many friends over the years and reach tens of thou- sands of likeminded people. I came into the hunting industry a different way than most people who make their living in this space. I didn’t beat down any doors trying to get in or have any grand ambitions to be a “face” or to promote my “brand”. Rather, the industry found me. It was 2004 and I had just released my Idaho’s Greatest Mule Deer book. I had done it out of my own interest, and it caught the attention of Boone and Crockett Club, who offered me a job. Next thing I knew, I was moving from Idaho to Missoula, Montana. After four years of working there for two of my great friends and mentors, George Bettas and Jack Reneau, I moved on to become a hunting maga- zine editor. This is the position I’ve held for the past 11 years. Because of the unique way I came into the hunt- ing industry, I’ve always felt that I had a much dif- ferent and arguably better perspective than most. I have never been about promoting “me”. Instead, I’ve always felt that I was fortunate to have a platform to reach people and perhaps make a difference. 98 WESTERN HUNTER Thus, I chose to use that platform carefully, al- most entirely in effort to make hunting a better place; a thoughtful place with respect and appre- ciation for our precious hunting heritage. So, that was always my charge – to do all I could to paint a better picture and hopefully influence as many people as I could in a better direction than what I saw being promoted in many other places. This is the fuel that has always driven me in this career. My own litmus test for what I allowed or didn’t allow into the magazine was a 12-year-old kid. If that kid picked up my magazine, what kind of in- fluence would the content have on their impres- sionable minds? What standards and ethics would I be helping to instill in them? No one is perfect and I’m sure I, too, could have done better. Still, I’m proud of my efforts, my own personal guidelines, and of the type of hunters out there who have chosen to follow my work. My kind of people are hard-hunt- ing, respectful outdoorsmen who cher- ish our heritage, try to leave things better than they found them, and real- ize that there is more to all this than just killing things and using/taking. They choose to hunt game very honorably in tough conditions to test themselves and to honor the true spirit of fair chase. They have the ability to see through the smoke and know what real hunting is all about. With all of that said, all good things eventually come to an end. I want you all to know that this will be my final is- sue at the helm of Western Hunter Mag- azine. It has been a great run and I’m very thankful for the chance I’ve had to do all the things I mentioned. As is often the case in life, it’s time for a new adventure and some new scenery. I wish you all the best in this one time through life we have to make all the hunting memories we can. I hope to see you on the trail. No, really...I probably have an elk down and need some help packing elk quarters! If you’d like to stay in touch, you’re more than welcome to follow me on Instagram at @ryanhat- field1972, on Facebook, or check out my books at www.idahobiggame.com. As always, and with a final tip of the cap to my favorite movie, Jeremiah Johnson, “Keep your nose in the wind and your eyes along the skyline.” www.westernhunter.net