By Juanice Gray
What happens when you get a group of outdoor enthusiasts together in one room? You get fish scales and deer horns piled up, figuratively speaking.
The hunting and fishing tales flowed freely at the welcome reception for the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association (LOWA) Friday, Aug. 12. LOWA works towards improved education in the areas of conservation and preservation of the natural resources. Through writing, LOWA practices good sportsmanship and promotes the ethical use of our outdoor resources.
One attendee was LOWA vice-president Joe Macaluso, the recipient of the 2014 Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism. He began his career while a student at LSU. He worked three days per week at the Baton Rouge Advocate, covering college football and baseball. “In 1970, while still in school, I wrote for the Baton Rouge State-Times covering high school and LSU basketball and baseball,” he said. Then in 1976, things took a turn. He began a fishing report. That took him in the direction of outdoors writing that keeps his keyboard hopping to this day.
His five decades of sports writing was placed to the side when he, and LOWA Executive Director Chris Holmes began to visit.
And talk hunting.
And talk fishing.
And even talk a little beaver trapping.
They might as well have been on a deer stand or boat reeling in the catch of the day, so vivid were their stories. One could almost smell the salt air and feel the fall nip in the breeze.
An avid hunter myself, I listened. And talked.
Holmes told of an impromptu hunt while vacationing in Hawaii for black face sheep. “I had a pair of camouflage pants so I was ready,” he said of the spur-of-the-moment opportunity that bagged an impressive sheep.
Macaluso recalled fishing excursions that netted monster salt water fish and his early days as a young writer. “The last event I covered at the State-Times was the LSU baseball championship,” he said.
Cell phones jumped out of pockets and were used to show photos of those outings and others.
This is where these outdoor writers excel. They relate their life experiences and their passion for the outdoors.
The Natchitoches Convention and Visitor’s Bureau provided the welcome reception at the La Sports Hall of Fame and NW LA History museum with the assistance of the Natchitoches Historic District Development Commission as sponsors. Cane River Paddle and Pedal and Cypress Knee Outdoors provided door prizes and the food was prepared by Janet Lacour/Tatae’s Catering and served by Natchitoches CVB staff members Jean Carter, Anne Cummings and Madelynn Matt.
The two-day conference concluded Saturday with trips to the fish hatchery, Fort St. John Batiste, a downtown history tour, lunch at Merci Beaucoup and an awards banquet at Chateau St. Denis.
Holmes said the members had a “great time” in Natchitoches.