Driftwood: Cast of outdoor writers have tales to tell

Last weekend, outdoor communicators from across Indiana and a number of other states gathered at Clifty Falls State Park for the annual Hoosier Outdoor Writers conference. Each year the HOW board of directors votes on where to hold the next year’s conference. Madison was selected for the 2013 conference because of the region’s abundance of outdoor opportunity and the rich local history.

The Hoosier Outdoor Writers is a special group, and means a lot to me. When I first began writing an outdoor column nearly 10 years ago, HOW played a large role in helping me learn the craft while providing a network of professionals to help me steer the boat, so to speak. Today, some of my best friends are HOW members.

 This conference is especially meaningful to me because it signifies coming full circle within the organization. I am the out-going chairman of the board, the position you ascend to the year after your presidency. It was an honor to serve HOW as first a member, then board member, then vice president and finally president. On Saturday, I’m back to being an active member. I’m so proud to have my name etched in the list of past presidents with the likes of Indiana outdoor legends “Bayou Bill” Scifres, Louie Stout, Jack Spaulding, Phil Junker, John Martino, “Sir John” Maxwell and more.

Bayou Bill was Indianapolis outdoors. His column transcended generations. Because of my membership in HOW, I was able to know Bill during his last few years. What an honor it was to walk up his driveway and listen to him bellow, “Ha ya doing, Brandon.” And I got to stand on his back porch overlooking his beloved White River, and listen to him tell tales of how it used to be. Bill was a great man, and I only knew him because of HOW.

As I complete my time spent on the board of directors and as an officer, “Paddle Don” Cranfill begins his own journey of service. Don is a friend of mine from Bloomington who has followed through on his desire to become an outdoor communicator. You know, a lot of people express interest in trying their hand at professionally telling stories through print, photographs and video, but not many are willing to persevere to the point of “making it.” Paddle Don has.

I took him as a guest to the 2011 HOW conference at Turkey Run State Park. I told him, “If you want to learn how to be an outdoor writer, then the people at this conference can teach you what you need to know, but you have to be willing to put in the work.” He has.

I’ll make the same offer to you. If you have ever had the desire to write about the outdoors, but have no idea how to begin or where to publish your material, then the members of HOW can help you. But you have to put in the work. To learn more about the Hoosier Outdoor Writers, check out the organization’s website at www.hoosieroutdoorwriters.org.

See you down the trail…

Want more Driftwood Outdoors? Stay in touch with Brandon Butler via Facebook by logging on and liking his page at www.facebook.com/DriftwoodOutdoorsMagazine.

Brandon Butler is a Bloomington-based outdoors writer whose column is published each week in The Herald. Contact him at sports@dcherald.com or head online to visit his blog at driftwoodoutdoors.org.

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