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From the Pen of Carter P. Smith

It’s long been a staple of Texas fishing and hunting camps, living rooms and waiting rooms, libraries and classrooms. It’s usually not hard to spot — the dramatic scenery and imagery on the front and a small stack of well-thumbed pages within. The accompanying prose will sweep you right in and take you to places you wish you were or, perhaps just as likely, have never been.

Spanning 75 years and multiple generations, it has been a source of wonder to budding and expert outdoor enthusiasts alike, a badly needed balm and dose of home for those displaced from it, and an artesian well of information for anyone interested in the life, history and story of our home ground. If you are a hunter, camper, angler, birder, boater, kayaker, naturalist, rancher, steward, historian, citizen scientist, conservationist, mountain biker, photographer or anyone at all inclined toward anything outdoors, you have undoubtedly read it from cover to cover. 

I am talking about, of course, what is in your hands now — Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine.

For me, I have my beloved late grandmother to thank for the introduction. A farm girl from over in Bell County, she loved nothing more than seeing her grandson embrace the outdoors and, when it was time to be indoors, absorb himself in the pages of National Geographic, Audubon and his favorite, Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine.

Around age 8 or 9, I started receiving her magazine copies in the mail. When that bulging manila envelope arrived with her telltale script on the outside, I’d rip it open and read the magazine from cover to cover. With its stunning photos of wild critters and far-flung places and great stories on state parks and outdoor adventures, I ate it up, word by word, picture by picture, article by article, again and again. Even today when I see the magazine grace my desk, the first thing I think of is my grandmother and how much she loved its photos and its prose.

My first two research papers, if you can call such things in junior high, were based in no small part on articles I had read from the TP&W magazine. One was about the perils of the imperiled ocelot, a cat my grandparents would tell me about from their trips to the wilds of deep South Texas. The other was on the flora of the Big Thicket, a seemingly inexhaustible array of plant life and forms from the ecological crossroads of Texas.

When I left Texas for school and for work, this magazine is what kept me connected to home. And even today, when I need something to pick me up and inspire me to do and see more across our fine state, I look no further than the pages of this magazine.

This year, our eminently talented magazine team embarks upon its 75th anniversary of taking readers outside to discover Texas’ abundant natural and cultural bounty and to learn about the important conservation issues confronting our home ground. As Mary-Love Bigony writes in an accompanying article on the magazine’s fascinating origins and history, it is a milestone long in the making, achieved by an unwavering focus on sharing the best of Texas outdoors from tip to tip. 

As has been its tradition and hallmark since its inception, the TP&W magazine team will continue to take our signature publication to new and different heights in storytelling. How does one improve upon a timeless classic, you may ask? We’ll leave that to them, so read it and see!

Thanks for caring about our wild things and wild places. They need you now more than ever.

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