The OL 25

Ted Sakai FINE-TUNER OF DEEPWATER JIGGING FOR U.S. ANGLERS The best innovations are often the brainchild of someone with the foresight and creative mind to modify an existing product for a new market. Such is the case of Ted Sakai, product manager of Shimano's Fishing Lure and Accessories division, who has spawned an entirely new approach to jigging for U.S. saltwater anglers. By coupling high-speed reels spooled with braid and short rods with sensitive tips and long butt sections, Sakai took Japan's popular Butterfly Jig technique and created a complete fishing system around it. And you can see the results on the smiling faces of saltwater anglers around the country. Ready to vote for OL 25's Person of the Year? Continue to the end of the photo gallery and cast your ballot!Outdoor Life Online Editor
Kevin Plank CREATOR OF NEW STANDARD FOR BASE-LAYER APPAREL In 1995, Kevin Plank was looking to create a better T-shirt to wear under his football pads. What the University of Maryland player ultimately invented, from a simple spool of nylon/Lycra fiber, was Under Armour-- a multi-million-dollar apparel company that leads the industry in next-to-the-skin products. Thirteen years and nearly 50 iterations later, that first simple shirt has transformed into a complex bundle of fibers and fabric that serves the needs of professional athletes as well as outdoorsmen. Ready to vote for OL 25's Person of the Year? Continue to the end of the photo gallery and cast your ballot!Outdoor Life Online Editor
Ann Evans DPR SAFETY INSTRUCTOR As a child living in a remote area of Utah, Ann Evans would head down nightly to a nearby reservoir with her grandfather to fish. She developed a lifelong love of the outdoors and grew up to become one of the first female park rangers in Utah. Evans' concern for public safety led to perhaps her greatest contribution. After learning the DPR wanted to train more staff members in CPR but was hindered by the prohibitive cost, Evans became a certified trainer herself. In the more than 13 years that she's been an instructor, Evans has trained hundreds of staffers, saving the state thousands of dollars. More important, though, are the number of people whose lives were saved-- directly and indirectly-- through her dedication. Ready to vote for OL 25's Person of the Year? Continue to the end of the photo gallery and cast your ballot!Outdoor Life Online Editor
Homer Circle EVERY FISHERMAN'S FAVORITE "UNCLE" For decades, Homer Circle has been a friend to bass fishermen everywhere. Through his countless articles and TV and radio spots, "Uncle Homer," as he's affectionately known, has spent more than 50 years promoting the sport he loves so dearly. He will forever be known as one of America's greatest outdoor communicators. When he isn't being recognized for his achievements-- he was the recipient of the 2008 Samuel C. Johnson Fishing Journalist of the Year award-- he's having awards named for him. This year, the Professional Outdoor Media Association and Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation created the Homer Circle Fishing Communicator Award. Circle continues to write regularly (see the OL 2008 Fishing Awards, page 90). When not at his typewriter, he can be found flippin' and pitchin' on the bass lakes of central Florida. Ready to vote for OL 25's Person of the Year? Continue to the end of the photo gallery and cast your ballot!Outdoor Life Online Editor
Shane Mahoney SPEAKER, SCIENTIST AND PROMOTER OF HUNTING¿S UNIQUE HERITAGE A biologist, researcher and gifted lecturer, Shane Mahoney is one of the most persuasive proponents of wildlife conservation ever to aid the cause. A kind of philosopher-hunter, Mahoney speaks of the importance of hunting in shaping our essence as human beings and wants nothing less than to convince policy makers and politicians to view the issue of conservation on a par with justice, civil rights, poverty and education. Based in Newfoundland, Mahoney, 52, serves on a number of conservation organizations and agencies in Canada, most notably Conservation Force, founded in the 1990s. He is currently working on a five-year, $20 million research program to determine the effect of predators on woodland caribou; it is one of the largest studies of wildlife ever conducted in North America and one with implications for game management across species. The recipient of numerous honors, this year Mahoney was named the International Conservationist of the Year by Safari Club International. Ready to vote for OL 25's Person of the Year? Continue to the end of the photo gallery and cast your ballot!Outdoor Life Online Editor
Dave Brower VOLUNTEER WATERFOWL BANDER AND DUCK BOX TENDER Michigan native Dave Brower works for the state's Department of Natural Resources, but he's not a scientist. He's a volunteer with a passion for banding ducks, which he learned from a friend who worked with the DNR. For more than 15 years, Brower has devoted his time and resources to maintaining his 190 duck boxes, determined to band as many hens as possible. Brower has become a mentor himself. He's given lectures, but prefers taking people on his rounds in the woods. Sara Schaefer, Brower's supervisor at the DNR, says he understands the importance of conserving our natural resources. "Spending one afternoon with Dave may show people they're a part of this," she says. "Then, if legislation is proposed that affects natural resources, it will really mean something to them." Ready to vote for OL 25's Person of the Year? Continue to the end of the photo gallery and cast your ballot!Outdoor Life Online Editor
Johnny Morris BUILDER OF OUTDOORS RETAIL GIANT AND COMMITTED CONSERVATIONIST Morris' Bass Pro Shops is an outdoor goods retail behemoth, with more than 50 stores across the U.S. and Canada, formidable online sales and a mail-order catalog that has come a long way from the first one he printed himself in 1974 and mailed to professional bass anglers around the country. In 1978 Johnny introduced what would come to be known as the ubiquitous "bass boat." His Tracker brand boats have spawned an immense industry that has redefined the way we fish for bass and most other species. Among Morris' many conservation accolades, he has received the Teddy Roosevelt Conservationist Award, the National Wild Turkey Federation's Hunting Heritage Award and the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies President's Award. Morris was inducted into the International Game Fish Association's Hall of Fame in 2005. Ready to vote for OL 25's Person of the Year? Continue to the end of the photo gallery and cast your ballot!Outdoor Life Online Editor
Adolphus Busch IV FOUNDER OF GREAT RIVERS HABITAT ALLIANCE Americans living near the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers understand a flood's power. They watched as the great flood of 1993 broke through Missouri's levees, engulfing entire towns and devastating the state, prompting a debate about prevention of a similar catastrophe. One of those involved in the debate was St. Louis native Adolphus Busch IV, who lost his family home in that flood. In 2000 he founded the Great Rivers Habitat Alliance to promote floodplain preservation. Instead of building on flood-prone regions, he champions keeping them as overflow areas, hunting grounds and farmland. Whether in the courts or the legislature, Busch uses all avenues to advance his cause. And he has won, too. Through the GRHA, he opposed the expansion of an airport in the heart of the Mississippi flyway. He has also fought U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposals to build higher levees and develop at-risk areas. Ready to vote for OL 25's Person of the Year? Continue to the end of the photo gallery and cast your ballot!Outdoor Life Online Editor
Toxey Haas CREATOR OF CAMO AND GAME-MANAGEMENT PRODUCTS As an avid young turkey hunter in Mississippi, Toxey Haas always wished there was a better way to hide himself from the birds. "I knew that if I could develop camouflage that was undetectable to turkeys, I would easily be hidden to deer and other game as well," he says. So, as the story goes, one day he picked up a fistful of dirt, along with some leaves and twigs, and set about to develop a better camouflage. The result would come to be known as Bottomland, the first pattern under the brand Mossy Oak. In the 22 years since, Mossy Oak has continued to revolutionize the way hunters dress when they head into the field. But Haas' business has gone beyond hunting apparel in recent years. His BioLogic Wild Game Products has put Haas at the forefront of the game-management movement. And his passion for conservation most recently led Haas to cultivating trees on a massive scale for reforestation projects. Ready to vote for OL 25's Person of the Year? Continue to the end of the photo gallery and cast your ballot!Outdoor Life Online Editor
Joan Wulff FIRST LADY OF FLYFISHING Consider this statement: "No other person has impacted flyfishing or influenced generations of anglers more than Joan Salvato Wulff." With those words, the International Game Fish Association inducted Wulff into its Hall of Fame last year-- only the seventh woman to be so honored. Wulff won her first fly-casting tournament at 11, caught her first trout on a fly at 12, and won the title of the best women's dry fly accuracy caster in the U.S. at 16. Casting is one thing, but Wulff's passion for fishing is the stuff of legend. Whether it's trout on New York's Beaverkill River, giant bluefin tuna in Newfoundland or bonefish and tarpon on the flats of the Florida Keys, Joan Wulff can do it all-- and then some. A lifelong conservationist, Wulff continues to teach, write, campaign and speak out on critical fisheries issues. She is an inspiration to anglers everywhere. Ready to vote for OL 25's Person of the Year? Continue to the end of the photo gallery and cast your ballot!Outdoor Life Online Editor
Ron Fretts SUPPORTER OF MENTORED YOUTH HUNTING Growing up in Pennsylvania, Ron Fretts couldn't legally hunt until he was 12, and that just didn't seem fair. As an adult, he did something about it. In 2003, working with the National Wild Turkey Federation, he helped to establish the Families Afield initiative, which emphasized mentored youth hunting as a way to make lowering the hunting age palatable to the state. He entreated officials, spoke extensively before groups and got the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance involved, and in 2005, after many previous attempts by others had failed, the state Senate voted nearly unanimously to eliminate Pennsylvania's restrictive youth-hunting laws. Since then, 30 other states have lowered or eliminated their minimum-age requirements. Ready to vote for OL 25's Person of the Year? Continue to the end of the photo gallery and cast your ballot!Outdoor Life Online Editor
Paul Hardin INVENTOR OF A PERSONAL LOCATOR SYSTEM FOR RECREATIONAL USERS Tweaking technology that has existed for years on the commercial market might not seem like a big innovation. But when you consider that the effort to make the personal locator beacon a reality took not only the physical restructuring of a product used on freighters and planes, but also the coordination of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency, the Coast Guard, the Air Force and every local search-and-rescue agency in the country, you begin to appreciate what Paul Hardin, a vice president at ACR Electronics, achieved in 2003 when he made the ultimate rescue tool available to the general public. First used by commercial pilots and shipping captains, PLBs send out a specific and stable frequency signal that weather satellites use to pinpoint a unit's location. The coordinates are then relayed to NOAA, which sends the information to military personnel (the Air Force handles land-based rescues, while the Coast Guard manages those at sea). The information is then given to a local agency, which initiates the rescue within minutes of the signal being activated. It took Hardin nine years to navigate the gauntlet of red tape to put the system in place, but he did it. With more than 27,000 lives saved, PLB technology allows sportsmen to confidently head into the backcountry or out to sea or to extend their hunting careers a few more years. As Hardin is fond of saying, "PLBs have taken the 'search' out of search and rescue." Ready to vote for OL 25's Person of the Year? Continue to the end of the photo gallery and cast your ballot!Outdoor Life Online Editor
George Meyer LOBBYIST FOR SPORTSMEN'S ISSUES Wisconsin attorney George Meyer may be one of the most influential sportsmen's advocates you've never heard of. He has fought behind the scenes for the Clean Water Restoration Act, pushed for ballast regulations to keep invasives out of the state's waters and worked for the protection of public access for hunters and fishermen. He was also a lobbyist for the Great Lakes Basin Compact, a bill to protect our country's largest source of fresh water, which was ratified by Congress this fall. A native Wisconsinite, Meyer grew up with a family tradition of hunting and fishing. After law school, he went to work for the state Department of Natural Resources, eventually becoming its secretary. His term as DNR secretary ended about eight years ago, and Meyer is now executive director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, acting as its representative in the capitol. "George is always looking out for sportsmen," says Lil Pipping, president of the WWF. "He knows what has to be done legally to protect our land, and he'll take on the politicians to make it happen." Ready to vote for OL 25's Person of the Year? Continue to the end of the photo gallery and cast your ballot!Outdoor Life Online Editor
Bill Jordan DESIGNER OF CAMO AND OUTDOORS TV PRODUCER Bill Jordan got his start in the outdoors industry in 1983, when he founded Spartan Archery Products, a T-shirt-making operation he ran out of a back room at his father's boat dealership in Columbus, Georgia. From this folksy beginning, Jordan has built his brands, Realtree and Advantage Camouflage, into an outdoors industry empire, concealing millions of hunters in the woods, fields and marshes across the country. Knowing that his licensees would only be interested in touting their products and not the camouflage in which they were clad, Jordan decided early on that he would have to seek new avenues through which to promote his business. It was only logical that he would get into the television and video business. Today, Realtree Outdoor Television and the Monster Bucks video series are wildly popular with North America's outdoorsmen. Ready to vote for OL 25's Person of the Year? Continue to the end of the photo gallery and cast your ballot!Outdoor Life Online Editor
Lennart Arvidsson ENGINEER OF NEW PROPULSION SYSTEM Like some of history's best inventions, Volvo Penta's Inboard Performance System had an unremarkable start as the pet project of a few engineers at the company. Encouraged enough by what he saw in an ill-fated test run, Lennart Arvidsson took the team's idea to the Volvo Penta board of directors and persuaded them to fund further research and development. What finally emerged, thanks to Arvidsson's leadership and engineering ingenuity, is a completely new engine, propulsion and steering system for boats 35 to 120 feet long. With Volvo Penta's more efficient IPS, pleasure boaters and sport-fishermen alike enjoy unparalleled maneuverability, faster acceleration and higher top speeds-- all with the added bonus of reduced fuel consumption. Ready to vote for OL 25's Person of the Year? Continue to the end of the photo gallery and cast your ballot!Outdoor Life Online Editor
Randy Luth ADVOCATE FOR SERVICE RIFLES AS SPORTS FIREARMS To Senator Dianne Feinstein, they are weapons of war. To Randy Luth, service rifles are his lifeblood. Luth, 54, is one of the leading manufacturers of service rifles for sportsmen. Since 1986, when he founded DPMS/Panther Arms to produce guns such as the AR-15, Luth has worked to reeducate hunters to see black rifles as firearms that are ideally suited for hunting big game. He also provides opportunities for hunters and shooters to learn to use service rifles safely. "The journey has been so long and difficult in the black-rifle business," Luth says. "And now, in the twenty-first century, we are finally making some headway in getting hunters and shooters to realize that all we make is a cool-looking rifle that happens to shoot a little faster." Ready to vote for OL 25's Person of the Year? Continue to the end of the photo gallery and cast your ballot!Outdoor Life Online Editor
Dave Klein HUNTER ED SPECIALIST In 1994, Dave Klein attended a hunter education class, and afterward he said to himself, "I can do this." He was right. In 2007, Klein was named the Winchester Hunter Education Volunteer Instructor of the Year. Klein introduces kids to hunting and is a hunt master for Florida's Youth Hunts. He also leads workshops for Becoming an Outdoors Woman. Lynne Hawk, regional hunter safety coordinator, says, "A male instructor has to show women what to do without talking down to them. Dave is that kind of guy." It seems the future of hunting in Florida is in good hands. Ready to vote for OL 25's Person of the Year? Continue to the end of the photo gallery and cast your ballot!Outdoor Life Online Editor
John Lewis GRANDFATHER OF TURKEY RESTORATION In 1952, there were fewer than 2,500 turkeys in all of Missouri-- which was more than in most other states, where there were none. But thanks to the efforts of John Lewis, known as the Grandfather of Turkey Restoration, and others like him, Missouri became the model for turkey renewal. A decades-long project of trapping and transferring birds within its own borders and trading them to other states resulted in one of conservation's greatest success stories. The key, says Lewis, was the switch in 1954 to cannon-net trapping, which before then had primarily been used for ducks and geese. Another factor was a highly motivated and interested group of citizens. The turkey status in Missouri today? The state's most recent harvest was 50,000 birds. Similar restoration success stories can be found across the nation. Ready to vote for OL 25's Person of the Year? Continue to the end of the photo gallery and cast your ballot!Outdoor Life Online Editor
Lew Deal ADVOCATE FOR DISABLED VETERAN OUTDOORSMEN An article in the March 1993 issue of OUTDOOR LIFE about the needs and challenges facing disabled sportsmen gave Lew Deal an idea that has changed the lives of veterans across the country. Deal, a retired USMC lieutenant colonel, started a hunting program at MCB Quantico, in Virginia, that opened the base's property to anyone who is disabled, giving priority to veterans. It was a success and became a model for other military bases. But Deal didn't stop there. He wrote the concept for and spearheaded the passage of the Disabled Sportsmen's Access Act. The act makes outdoor recreation programs on military bases accessible to persons with disabilities. Through the act, nearly 26 million acres of military lands have become available for hunting, fishing and other outdoor sports. Ready to vote for OL 25's Person of the Year? Continue to the end of the photo gallery and cast your ballot!>Outdoor Life Online Editor
Jeff Nania CHAMPION OF WETLAND CONSERVATION IN WISCONSIN When people ask Jeff Nania how many wetlands he has restored, he always gives the same answer: "Not enough!" But he must be getting close. With more than 450 projects under his belt, ranging from an eighth of an acre to more than 1,000 acres, he is definitely the go-to guy for wetland conservation in Wisconsin. "The greatest environmental crisis is the loss of connection between our kids and the outdoors," he says. "If you're not part of something, why would you protect it?" To help correct the problem, he established "Outdoor Adventure Days" for kids, in conjunction with the Wisconsin Waterfowl Association, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Wisconsin DNR. He also cofounded the River Crossing Environmental Charter School, an award-winning state charter school now in its sixth year that focuses on hunting, fishing and conservation. Ready to vote for OL 25's Person of the Year? Continue to the end of the photo gallery and cast your ballot!Outdoor Life Online Editor
John Annoni FOUNDER OF CAMP COMPASS ACADEMY A teacher for 20 years and a lifelong resident of Allentown, Pennsylvania, John Annoni knows how important it is to give inner-city students a chance to get out of the city and into the outdoors. "Books just weren't cutting it," he says. So in 1994, Annoni started a conservation curriculum that grew into a federally recognized program called Camp Compass Academy. Open to students in grades 5 to 12, it offers hands-on training in weapons safety and classes ranging from conservation to math. Through these, students earn the privilege of going on hunting and fishing trips made possible by funds Annoni has raised through grants from conservation groups, businesses such as Mossy Oak and private donations. Ready to vote for OL 25's Person of the Year? Continue to the end of the photo gallery and cast your ballot!Outdoor Life Online Editor
Don Peay FOUNDER OF SPORTSMEN FOR FISH AND WILDLIFE A lifelong hunter and angler, Don Peay (pronounced pay) sold his engineering consulting firm in 1994 when he grew "disgusted" with the condition of habitats and game herds in Utah and felt he couldn't just watch the decline. It seemed to him that the state was giving up on its hunting heritage, so he decided to dedicate his time and resources to reversing the situation. That same year he founded Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, a grassroots organization that now has more than 10,000 members and chapters in Wyoming, Idaho, New Mexico and Alaska, as well as in Utah. Peay is an active advocate who takes a multipronged approach to supporting the West's hunting culture. He may be best known for his controversial and staunch support of wolf control, but he considers his greatest achievement SFW's public rangeland restoration effort, started in 2000, which converts weeds and timber into diverse habitat for wildlife. Ready to vote for OL 25's Person of the Year? Continue to the end of the photo gallery and cast your ballot!Outdoor Life Online Editor
Bob Pucci FOUNDER OF TAKE A KID HUNTING After some time away from hunting in the 1980s, Bob Pucci wanted to start up again. A fellow Wisconsinite who hosted goose hunts said if Pucci helped out, he could hunt for free. Soon he started leading hunts himself, encouraging older hunters to come because he loved to hear their stories. But after watching the bonding between father-son teams, he was inspired to start the Take a Kid Hunting Foundation. The trips are provided at no cost. Weekends are reserved for families, but during the week, Pucci leads handicapped hunters and "old geezers" (anyone over 18) into the field. Pucci finances the foundation through his gun-show sponsorships. Rocco, Pucci's black Lab, was a familiar fixture on the circuit. When he died last summer, Pucci received more than a thousand e-mails expressing sympathy. "I was ill last January," Pucci says, "and no one said a word. When Rocco died, it was on the six o'clock news." Ready to vote for OL 25's Person of the Year? Continue to the end of the photo gallery and cast your ballot!Outdoor Life Online Editor
Kathy Davis FULL-TIME CONSERVATION VOLUNTEER Kathy Davis was introduced to conservation volunteering about 11 years ago, when a friend who knew she was interested in the outdoors recommended she attend a leadership steering committee meeting for stream and lake assessment programs in Pennsylvania. Davis ended up taking a handful of volunteers and, over the course of 10 years, grew them into the 2,900-strong Citizens Volunteer Monitoring Program, saving the state $8 million in the process. But that's just one Kathy Davis story. There are others, including her work with marking and recapturing bears, her efforts to limit epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) in deer and, most recently, her attempt to increase hunter numbers through new state legislation. Ready to vote for OL 25's Person of the Year? Continue to the end of the photo gallery and cast your ballot!Outdoor Life Online Editor
Steve Scruggs TRAVELING TEACHER WITH A PASSION FOR WILDLIFE Indiana Jones would not be happy to meet Steve Scruggs. The founder of Let's Get Wild, a hugely successful multistate program aimed at teaching elementary and middle-school kids about conservation and wildlife, is known as the Snakemaster, for his cool handling of all manner of reptiles. The kids love it, but, in fact, it's just the sideshow. The top billing goes to the dozens of mounts-- deer, bears, beavers, even a great-horned owl-- that Scruggs transports around the South as part of his show-and-tell style of education. Last year, the Georgia native logged 37,000 miles in the service of outdoors education, and it's estimated he has reached more than 1.2 million kids since starting his odyssey in 1992. A former sales manager and lifelong hunter, Scruggs has taken to his second career with an unbridled passion that the kids find contagious. His goal is to take LGW nationwide, as he continues to spread the word about the wonders of wildlife. Ready to vote? Click here and vote for OL 25's Person of the YearOutdoor Life Online Editor

You decide who deserves top honors as the most influential person in hunting and fishing. Vote now in Outdoor Life's second annual OL 25 awards program. (Complete profiles are available in the Dec/Jan issue of Outdoor Life, on newstands now)