Pros: Real stories by real outdoorsmen.
Cons: Wish it was longer every month.
Fur-Fish-and-Game magazine is subtitled, The Magazine for Practical Outdoorsman. As far as outdoor magazines go, this is by far the most practical. Other popular outdoors magazines have gotten meretricious and so far from the real practicing outdoorsman that they can almost be read as fictional fantasy rather than pragmatic truism. I am an outdoorsman! I hunt, fish, trap, boat, camp, photograph nature and wild animals, and spend as much time in the outdoors as I can. At one time, my outdoor magazine subscriptions included Outdoor Life, Sports Afield, Field and Stream, and Fur-Fish-and-Game. Now, I exclusively subscribe to Fur-Fish-and-Game. The other magazines seemed to get too far away from places and events that I would ever do or see. I probably wont ever hunt in Africa or Russia, I might never fish in Brazil, I dont need to know how to care for a $100,000 shotgun. Around the time that the huge communications conglomerate of Time Warner purchased these other magazines, they headed south to me, leaving me with one magazine that I could truly relate to for outdoors issues, events and articles, Fur-Fish-and-Game.
Fur-Fish-and-Game is written in plain everyday English. Some of the features can be flashy but for the most part the magazine never deviates from its back home, country origins. You get the feeling that it is written by people who are out there doing it. Maybe the same type of people you get information from behind the counter at a local sporting goods store, or the guys you see winning the fishing tournaments or always harvesting a big buck. What they might lack in flashiness or vocabulary, they make up for with enthusiasm and honest back home information..
These topics are included in Fur Fish and Game magazine. Other topics I do not mention will arise and the ones listed are in no special order. Hunting, fishing, trapping, boating, conservation, game laws, wild root collecting, predator control, predator calling, camping, wilderness survival, woodcrafting, hunting dogs, living off of the land, and nostalgic outdoor techniques and living.
For the past fifty years Fur Fish and Game has used art work for their covers. For the most part, the art work has been, and continues to be, absolutely incredible. They are primarily oil paintings of wild animals and fish that look so real, they could double as photographs. These covers are from various freelance artists, not staff artists, and most can be purchased as prints directly from the artists. I find it amusing that Fur-Fish-and-Game primarily uses paintings and artwork for their covers in a digital and photography age, and they once used photographs in an artwork and painting age. The old covers, while archaic and nostalgic, are still fun to look through. I have a collection of old Fur Fish and Game magazines from every decade since its initial introduction to the public. It seems that they started using cover artwork exclusively sometime around 1952. This isnt taking anything away from the interior of the magazine, the articles, writers, or magazine body when I say that I look forward to seeing the new cover more than anything when my magazine comes every month.
Fur-Fish-and-Game was founded by A.R. Harding in 1925. There was a little bit of pre-history to the magazine before 1925. Harding started Hunter-Trader-Trapper magazine in October of 1900 and being the exclusive fur price provider, it was highly successful. It was the first publication to link together the trapper, hunter, trader, buyer and exporter. Harding showed his visionary of the future not only by creating the magazine but by using his editorials to campaign for fur harvest seasons and conservation. At the time, both were lacking. Harding sold the magazine in 1914 because of health reasons and after making a recovery in 1925, he tried to buy it back. Unable to accomplish this, he bought another magazine, Fur News and Outdoor World and changed the name to Fur-Fish-and-Game where he competed against his former magazine. He eventually won outright and his descendants are still producing Fur-Fish-and-Game today.
An editorial by AR Harding spelling out the new Fur-Fish-and-Game mission: taken from FFG website.
FUR-FISH-GAME wants articles from subscribers telling of their actual experiences - whether hunting, trapping, fur buying, fishing, camping, fur farming, medicinal root growing, etc. ... The editor believes that such material is often of more interest and value than much that is written in flowing language by those who follow writing as a business. F-F-G will be of practical pleasure and profit - edited and published for those who wish to read in plain, everyday language about fur, fish, game and allied interests.
Fur-Fish-and-Game was a leader in teaching and preaching about sportsmanship, ethics in the field, and game conservation including wildlife management. Many of these things would not exist in the same fashion today if it werent for people like AR Harding, Aldo Leopold, and J.A. McGuire, the founder of Outdoor Life.
Great writers who have made contributions to Fur-Fish-and-Game to name a few are, VE Lynch, EJ Dailey, Bill Nelson, Dick Gray, and AR Harding
Each month Fur Fish and Game includes about six feature articles in their magazine. These are written by different writers every month and I presume they are submitted by free-lance authors or are designated assignments. You will usually recognize one of the featured article authors as a staff writer submitting a separate story or article. The magazine stays fresh by keeping this to a minimum and cycling different writers stories through month by month.
The features are weighted more towards the upcoming or current season but are always diverse, covering fur, field, and fishing. In the spring you should expect to see more featured articles about turkey hunting and ice out trout fishing. In the summer maybe some stories about trap maintenance, freshwater fishing, shooting, and you can always expect an Alaskan trapping story. In the fall there are plenty of deer hunting stories, trapping stories, trap preparation, and a moose hunt. The winter covers a lot of trapping, fur preparation, ice fishing, and once again an Alaskan story. During any season you can expect to see a story about squirrel hunting, deer hunting, fishing and a remembrance story about Grandpas this or that. I love those stories
The features section displays a lot of good writing by new and established writers. They serve to be not only informative, but also entertaining. The nice thing about them is with six and such a diverse choice of outdoor activities and subjects, there is always at least one that jumps out to me. Perhaps the greatest thing about the magazine in general, and it is visible in the features section, is that it is written by real outdoorsmen. These are not office outdoorsmen who venture out for a weekend every month. The Fur Fish and Game writers are not at all condescending or haughty taughty. I have gotten away from Outdoor Life and Field and Stream over the years because I got the feeling those outdoorsman were not the same as me. I do not have a $20,000 side-by-side engraved shotgun that I hunt exotic birds in Africa, I dont travel the globe in search of a rare trout and catch it on my Three-thousand dollar fly fishing outfit. No, you get the feeling from Fur Fish and Game that the writers and editors are blue collar outdoorsman and they live the outdoors life.
Letters from Readers: This is a little bit different then some letters sections I have seen in other magazines. It differs by the way it is split into two sections. The first section is always separate then the second and includes usually a letter or two accompanied by a picture of youngsters with their firsts. A lot of times it was their first fish, first beaver, deer or even squirrel. I like how this magazine dedicates some of its space to youth. Some of their firsts are pretty nice catches too.
The second part of the letters section is very similar to letters sections of every magazine. They praise and chastize the writers of the previous month. Some of the letters are actually about memories inspired by articles of the previous month or declarations of readers about their skill or how long they have enjoyed the magazine and they drop a little thank you note that gets published. But the letters that chastize the writers are commonly arguments or disagreements. You rarely see an outdoors magazine which has a gun or ammunition section that does not contain at least two letters every issue from lunatics of the shooting world claiming one round is better than the writers favorite round. And ballistics, forget it.
I knew that: This section can be helpful at times. It contains readers tips on outdoor equipment. A lot of the tips are how to make your own this or that, use this for that, this is easier. Most of them are creative and show the ingenuity and adaptability of the outdoor world. It reminds me a lot of how we were when I grew up on the farm. You made due with what you had, fixed things or improved them. The magazine rewards published authors of tips with a camouflage Fur Fish and Game hat.
News and Notes: Sometimes I read everything in this section and sometimes I just scan it. It is usually two pages about what is going on around the United States with wildlife issues in the news, courts, and field. You can read a lot of conservation stories here. This section always warns outdoorsmen about any disease which affects game or game seekers. My favorite part of this section is the news from The Pennsylvania Game News report. They always get a funny story usually told by a warden or a hunter and it is light and humorous.
The Gun Rack: This section is written by Ed Hall . Most of the articles in this section deal with new loads and calibers, sighting in your rifle or pistol, and matching a caliber or load to the animal you are hunting. Ed Hall includes a lot of technical data in his articles and they are highly informative.
Fish and Tackle: This section is written by Vic Attardo . The nice thing about reading his articles is that he has no ego or attitude. Sounds like an everyday fisherman. The only thing I dont like about his articles is he doesnt appear to be highly skilled, or dare I say, a master, at fishing for any given species. I Sometimes I like my fishing stories that I read to come across to me as word or gospel. His are more matter of fact. His best articles are when he follows a fisherman or joins one who is a master at the art of fishing. Vic Attardos articles rarely deviate from mainstream fishing techniques and the norm.
Game Calling: Judd Cooney has primarily written the game calling section for Fur Fish and Game for quite some time now. Jason Haberstroh, Jack Spencer, Bob Hood and Bruce Ingram have also been contributors to this section. Game Calling deals with the increasingly popular field of predator calling and hunting. I not only find this section informative but it is always exciting too. The writers bring you along on the hunt during the article while giving the reader tips on what works and what doesnt.
The Trapline: This is the Bread-and-Butter section of Fur-Fish-and-Game. Written by Hal Sullivan , I have never been disappointed with his articles. They are always informative, exciting, and well written. He is a trapping authority known by all of the trapping world and Fur Fish and Game is lucky to have him. Some of his articles are serious, some are lighter and some are just down right funny. He writes a lot of how-to articles without them feeling or sounding like a how-to article. They are interesting enough so you dont feel like a student when reading them yet they teach at the same time. Hal Sullivan is an accomplished trapping writer with several books on trapping and fur preparation. Dont miss this section when flipping through Fur Fish and Game.
Fur Market Report: This section can get me really heated and frustrated sometimes. Written by Gary Schroeder , The Fur Market Report actually has a disclaimer after it stating it should just be used for general information only. Schroeder usually writes a couple of paragraphs about what is going on in the world with fur and the fashion world. Then he speculates on what the prices are going to be for each species of fur and the region they come from. As a trapper it is fun to look at this during and before the season. His predictions are almost always higher than what they will be. This might be to drum up interest in trapping with higher prices, he might honestly believe those prices, he might just be making an educated guess. I wouldnt really want that job, even though he still has his job after making the wrong predictions time after time, he probably should have been a weather man. All humor aside, this section is nice because it lets the readers in on what is going on around the world with raw furs. It informs readers as to what countries are buying specific furs, which countries are competing, which furs are stagnant and which ones are on the move. Also included at the end of the report are prices being paid for wild ginseng, deer antler, moose and elk antler and beaver castors. Lately I have seen a couple more wild roots included such as goldenseal, black cohosh, and bloodroot. Keep up the good work Gary, you prognosticator of fur prices.
Trapline Calendar:This section takes up most of one page and lists the current months calender. Included are the trapping organizations of every state with something going on. It list just what is going on, where and contact information. I usually just scan this section for the state I will be in and follow from there.
Question Box: The questions are answered by Randall Davis . Nothing against Randall but this section has gone downhill since the days of EJ Dailey, and VE Lynch. The questions sent in from readers are scattered and completely across the board. Randall Davis answers them with an authority I am unsure of. I like the questions department to be answered by a big name in the outdoors world. Randall Davis does a nice job answering the questions, sometimes I agree, sometimes I do not. Enough said.
New Products: I dont really get too interested in this section for some reason. Perhaps it is because I see it as a paid advertisement disguised as an article or section of the magazine, or perhaps it is just because I have other ways of discovering new products such as seeing them in the field, on the shelves in my favorite outdoors stores, or reading about them under a different setting than this. Fur Fish and Game usually covers a firearm, some clothing and some gadgets in this section and tells the reader where they can get them.
Antique Trap Collecting: This section is a rather new section to the magazine written by Tom Parr . You might not consider it new, looking back through some of my old issues of FFG I can see all of the traps Tom Parr writes about in the old magazines. They are just in a different section, the advertising section when they were being sold as new. This section is a great idea for the magazine as trappers like reading about the development of traps and some older and original models. Trap collecting is becoming popular on the internet.
Maurice Decker: Saving the best for last, the 12 part stories written by Maurice Decker are my favorite part of the magazine. After admiring the cover art, I immediately flip through until I find Maurice Decker and I begin reading. These are all reprints from previous Fur Fish and Games which appeared from the 30's to the 70's. They are fictional stories about two rugged, daring, and brilliant outdoorsmen, Charlie and Lew. The stories are divided into 12 sections and you get a to-be-continued every month. I cant tell you how many nights I read about Charlie and Lew after a long day on the trapline and finishing up in the Fur Shed. These stories are written incredibly well. I am searching for a collection of all of his adventure stories but have only found them in the back issues of Fur Fish and Game, one chapter at a time. I found a book Maurice Decker published about guns, he was a gun writer as well, but the really interesting stories are the adventure stories he penned for 40 or so years. If anyone out there reading this knows how to get all or any of his stories in a collection, please let me know.
I was surprised to see how much headway Fur-Fish-and-Game has made with their web-page. It is a very attractive and informative. I wont delve into it too much but will list what hey have and I am sure you will check it out yourself. Sections on the website include. Current Issue, Shop Online, Subscribe Now, About FFG, and Contact Us. The About section covers a more in-depth history than I have offered, featured articles, advertising, historical covers which I highly recommend you take a gander at, and opportunities to buy back issues, books, trapping videos, advertisement spaces, and classified ads.
Publisher: Jeff Kirn
Editor: Mitch Cox
Field Editors: Ed Hall Guns and Hunting, Hal Sullivan Trapping, Vic Attardo Fish and Tackle, Judd Cooney Game Calling, Randall Davis Question Box, Gary Schroeder Fur Markets, Eric Schweinhagen Photographer,
Advertising Director:Eric Schweinhagen
Cover price for Fur Fish and Game in the United States is $3.99 per issue. Subscription rates differ. In 2008, through the magazine, a 12 month subscription can be purchased for $15.95. This translates into $1.33 per issue or a newsstand savings of 67 percent. A 24 month subscription can be purchased for $26.95. This translates into $1.12 per issue, a savings of 72 percent from the newsstand price. The same price is currently available on their website or you can write to FFG, 2878 E. Main Street, Columbus, Ohio 43209-2698.
© smallmouth 2008
Other Media Reviews:
Portland Press Herald, Maines Paper, Wicked Good
Outdoor Life, reviewed in Feb 01