Editor’s note: After Editor Andrew McKean posted a video about his favorite cover of Outdoor Life magazine, we received the following letter and photos. To see every cover of Outdoor Life from our past 116 years via our Digital Archives, click here.
Dear Outdoor Life Editors,
I discovered my all-time favorite Outdoor Life cover in a most interesting and unique way. Back in the mid 1990s, I was part of a team that put together two coffee table books to celebrate Outdoor Life’s centennial in 1998. One book was a collection of OL’s best stories, chosen by my team and the OL editors at the time. The other book featured many of OL’s best covers, ads, and interior photos. I’ve included a photo of my two sons holding these books.
For two weeks my team turned the pages of every OL magazine in the New York editorial office archives. Yes, every page. And along the way we flagged amazing stories and striking images for possible inclusion in the books. Of everything I saw during my extensive research project, my No. 1 favorite was the cover from August 1942.
While at first glance you see a soldier wearing his helmet, a closer examination reveals a true work of art. Do you see how the wall tent makes up the soldier’s collar? Do you see how one eye is a flying goose, while the other is an angler’s dark sunglasses? The line of the soldier’s neck is a whitetail, and his mouth and nose is a shoreline scene. Do you see the upland bird hunter defining the helmet and ear? The fish and river scene in the helmet rim? Simply amazing!
I was so impressed with this cover that I used it as the lead image of the “100 Years in Pictures” chapter detailing the 1940s. Each chapter contained intro copy written by longtime OL hunting editor Charlie Elliott, who I came to know well during this massive book project. In fact, I flew down to Covington, Ga., to visit Charlie in person. He was in his early 90s at the time, and we spent the day walking the hallways of the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center. No joke: It was like visiting Graceland with Elvis.
Sadly, Charlie passed away in 2000, shortly after my visit. I was so impressed by the man and my time with him that I named my first-born after him. To this day Elliott takes great pride in telling all of his school buddies about Charlie Elliott.
Sincerely, David Bjerke