I met the Louisiana Sportsman crew in the mid-1990s at a Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association meeting in Monroe. I was a young, gung ho journalist new to the outdoor industry, having spent my formative days as a beat reporter for the Morning Advocate (now The Advocate) in Baton Rouge.

Then-editor Todd Masson and I hit it off, and I was soon a regular fixture in the magazine. While I had a day job at the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, I traveled the state on the weekends writing stories and taking photos for the Sportsman.

A few years later, Masson offered me a full-time job — and I jumped at the opportunity. And for eight glorious years I was paid a salary to shoot and catch every game species available in the state (well, technically, I was paid to write stories, but “field research” was vital). The wild turkey remains about the only species I have yet to kill.

Outside of a four-year hiatus during which I worked mainly on the national scene with Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times magazines, Louisiana Sportsman has been my professional home.

I finished up my 14th year as a staffer in October — serving nearly five of those years as the editor. And it’s been a blast.

But life is all about change. And so this issue of the magazine marks my departure from the publication that has served as the bible of Louisiana outdoors for more than 30 years. I move on to focus on photography, with a bit of writing mixed in.

While I’ll likely still be involved in the magazine in some capacity, it’s time for younger hands to take the tiller and point the company in new and exciting directions.

I welcome David Hunter Jones to the company, and trust he’ll carry on the fine tradition of excellence in outdoor journalism. The boy (hey, he’s only 32) has creds from stints with two national hunting and fishing publications, so he’ll fit right in — he just has to learn how to pronounce the distinctly Louisiana locales.

And if you’re looking for a fishing partner, I know he’d welcome the invite. He particularly loves to chase reds and specks (hint, hint, hint).

My friends and family tell me I have had a dream job. In fact, many of them accuse me of not having a “real job” at all. And they are correct. Few people have the opportunity to spend as much time in God’s outdoor art studio as I have enjoyed. 

And, while my wife promises me this isn’t a retirement, I hope to have even more time to spend on the water.

Thanks go out to all those who have made my job easy, and I hope to see you on the water.