By Joe Sills

    As we age, our wants and needs change, sometimes very drastically and suddenly. I recall how, at 12, I wanted one of those new push-button outfits that sported invisible monofilament line. That new Johnson Century and Ted Williams rod actually showed up under the tree. I still have the rod, but the reel bit the dust while landing my first 6-pound bass. Stripped gears were common on those. At 16, my wants were mostly car-related, well, car- and girl-related. Those new seat covers for my 1950 Ford were quite classy at the time, especially in mid-winter. In my high school years, the Holiday Season meant wishing for more moneymaking gigs for our rock band, “The House Rockers” with Alex Harvey (Delta Dawn composer) as our singer. College meant wishing our Memphis Tigers would get a bowl bid and playing with any band that needed a trumpet player. Remember “Bordie Bell and the Shifters”, or the “Pat Tricky Band”? Even played with the “Bar-Kays” some.

    In my 20s, my wishes were directly related to marital concerns, but my deep desire was to be a top-notch bass fisherman, especially motivated by a new magazine called “Bassmaster”, of which I have every copy from 1968, first edition onward. Ray Scott became the Father of Professional Bass Fishing and I wanted to be one of his “B.A.S.S. Family”. But alas, ‘twas not to be as family and job security took priority. But, in my early thirties, I was fortunate to begin a new high school band teaching position in Murray, Kentucky, only fifteen minutes from famous Kentucky Lake! Now, the door was surely open to fulfill my dream. Naw, my attention was so heavily demanded by my real job, that the best I could was make a mark in the Murray Bass Club, which had two Bass Master Classic Contenders. I, after four years, actually finished second in that 50-member club. I learned that TIME and MONEY were the keys to success in pro fishing, of which I was sorely lacking. But, I did manage to win a Grand National Marching Band Championship!

    Time, personal dilemmas, financial concerns, and health issues have accompanied us all as we travel life’s journey, but in my mind, I still have the great desire to escape into Nature. For twenty-three years, I have been blest to be a part of the Mid-South Hunting and Fishing News Family. Working and playing with the people in the outdoor industry has been truly a joy. As we have journeyed these years together, changes in the industry have been dramatic and are still very fluid. Who knows what the future holds? Could it be that those who have adopted the socially-distant life of outdoor activity will continue? Will the old normal return? Will more related businesses emerge, or will more disappear?

    We do know that untold numbers of more people have developed a deeper appreciation for the wonderful world of Nature and that we anticipate a stronger bond of all hunters, fishermen, hikers, bikers, and boaters will have to be the result of this Pandemic. My 2020 Christmas Wish is for there to be Peace, not only on just Earth, but in each of your hearts and families. And never forget……”God Bless America….!!!”