George Block Column

Lessons of an outdoors writer

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This outdoor writer has learned the task is not always a bed of roses. Almost everyone has suffered a spell of hoof-and-mouth disease when they have difficuly removing their foot from their mouth.


That’s a mistake done orally.


My mistakes are in print and that is hard to deny. Of course, there is always the person at the paper to blame. Once, I wrote the shooting and hunting fraternity was not represented in the county sports hall of fame. I should have done more homework, but there it was in print. I heard about my mishap and was red-faced. Barry Trew was an obvious member.


A long time ago, I wrote an article for Pennsylvania Sportsman Magazine about deer hunting to be had in Greene County. At the time, there was just a few of us that hunted in our local area. Though there wasn’t a high deer population in the area, we were bringing home some really nice bucks.


I learned a lesson from that one. My phone rang and it was three fellows from New Jersey who came to the area to deer hunt based on what I wrote. Now, I was supposed to find them a place to hunt. They were booked at a motel and the cost of the trip and license wasn’t exactly cheap. A farm to hunt?


That’s not easy, but with a lot of luck and phone calls, I did find one. I learned my lesson, but one thing always bothered me. How did they get my phone number?


I once wrote an article for the Pennsylvania Angler on early season salmon fishing, only to have three readers show up while Eileen and I were casting spinners at the mouth of Elk Creek. As luck would have it, one of them recognized me as the writer. Fishing was dead but I did catch one proving there is a God that watches over me. I never welcomed a hit more.


While I was getting threatening looks from the group, Eileen smiled. She later told me I deserved it. It was the fish that saved my life.


In an article previously published in the Sunday edition of the Observer-Reporter, I explained the difference between a cartridge and a bullet. The following week, I called a cartridge a bullet. I talk of accurate rifles, go to the club and shoot three-inch groups. Of course, I try to explain that everyone has bad days. Yes, they say that, but not convincingly.


Red pen marks on an article means there was a lot of corrections made, but you should have heard the comments of the late Jack Krause when I called a rabbit a rodent or when I spelled Port Allegany the same as the river. He was from Port Allegany.


If there is one thing that softens the blow of printed mistakes, it is that I find them everywhere. The best of writers in reloading books and magazines is Ken Waters, but even he makes a big mistake in his piece about auto-reloading rifles. He said they are not popular in Pennsylvania because we are infatuated with pump-action. He obviously doesn’t know the rules of hunting deer in this state.


Even the best make mistakes.


Sadly, mine are in print and can’t be called back. Truthfully, I look at them as proving someone reads what I write.


Criticism is better than being ignored.



George H. Block writes a Sunday Outdoor column for the Observer-Reporter.


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