A Shooting Sportsman

Dscf1319jpg Personally, I’m too cheap to place very many bets, but if you put 10 of the country’s best hunters into the same room and were forced to place a bet on who would be the most successful of the group on any one hunt, my money would be on Ralph Stuart every single time. Ever hear of him? Probably not.

Stuart is my favorite hunting partner and has been since the late 1980s. He and I were junior editors here at Outdoor Life back then and, much to our wives’ dismay, we spent nearly every weekend together from the bowhunting opener on October 15 through February when rabbit season came to an end. Once April rolled around, we were away from home again until May 31 when turkey season ended. We learned much together, yet he always seemed to reach beyond my learning curve.

In the late-’90s, Stuart left Outdoor Life to become the editor of Shooting Sportsman magazine in Camden, Maine. We all laughed. Not because we questioned his editorial capabilities, but rather because, to us, he was the anti-thesis of a Shooting Sportsman. He was a killer—period. I don’t get to hunt with Ralph nearly as much as I used to, but we exchange e-mails and phone calls regularly—especially during turkey season. And whenever he e-mails me photos of the birds he has killed or the many, many others he’s called in for youngsters, friends or, in this case, his girlfriend Barbara, I laugh about his outdated camo (he’s got a big collection of Hide ’N Pine and Skyline) or about the obsolete calls that he carries in his vest. Yet, he always gets the job done—without fail. I’ve got one request. If there is any way to get this guy some new calls or camo, can you please send it to him? It’s sort of embarrassing!

Dscf1312 Barbara took this jake on her very first turkey hunt. Stuart’s adult gobbler weighed 18 1/2- pounds and was shot during the second week of the Maine season.—Gerry Bethge