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MAGAZINES

Magazines Set Sights on Hunters and Fishermen

One in an occasional series

November 24, 1996|LESLIE KNOWLTON | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Despite the ready availability of pre-killed meat and fish, hunting and fishing are as popular as ever. In California alone, more than 2 million people go fishing and about 700,000 go hunting each year.

More than 100 specialty magazines are on the market, covering everything from walleye and musky fishing to turkey, pheasant and fox hunting. Excluding large membership-only publications such as the National Rifle Assn.'s American Hunter, here's a sampler of a dozen.

General Sporting

Sports Afield

* Number of issues a year: 10

* Established: 1887

* Circulation: 450,000

* Cover price: $2.50

* Subscriptions: (800) 234-3537

Founded more than 100 years ago by writer Claude King, this granddaddy of sporting publications was acquired by Hearst Magazines in 1953. This attractive magazine boasts writers such as Hunter S. Thompson, P.J. O'Rourke and Richard Ford, winner of the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

Recent features: "Pure Fish" (real fly-fishing maniacs aren't in pursuit of efficiency); "Caribou School" (you can't become a complete hunter until you've stalked across the tundra).

***

Gray's Sporting Journal

* Number of issues a year: 7

* Established: 1975

* Circulation: 30,000

* Cover price: $6.95

* Subscriptions: (800) 458-4010

Started by Ed and Becky Gray, a New England couple who wanted a literate alternative to other hunting and fishing magazines, this elegant and sophisticated publication was sold in 1991 to Morris Communications, a Georgia-based publisher that kept the magazine's original arty format. With luscious reproductions of paintings on the front and back, the story-focused book contains gorgeous photographic journals, fiction and nonfiction, poetry, book reviews and recipes for dishes like stir-fry sardines and Sichuan fried pheasant.

Recent features: "Luxon's Muit" (stalking a wounded leopard); "That Wildwood Summer" (lake trout and a tale of lost innocence).

***

Field & Stream

* Number of issues a year: 12

* Established: 1895

* Circulation: 2 million

* Cover price: $2.95

* Subscriptions: (800) 289-0639

This 101-year-old magazine--initially called Northwestern Field and Stream: A Journal of the Rifle, Gun, Rod and Camera--was started on a shoestring by a Minnesota sportsman. The magazine now covers hunting and fishing in four regionalized editions, with a focus on lifestyle and conservation.

Recent features: "The See-More Glasses" (colored shooting lenses brighten your view); "Mixed Blessing" (first-person about fishing Oregon's Umpqua River).

***

Outdoor Life

* Number of issues a year: 12

* Established: 1898

* Circulation: 1.5 million

* Cover price: $2.95

* Subscriptions: (800) 365-1580

Called "the sportsman's authority since 1898," it's a bit more hard-core than Field & Stream (both are published by Times Mirror Co.), with more focus on service and big adventure hunts.

Recent features: "Calls That Collect" (the wild turkey has 30 distinct calls); "Smallmouth on the Fly" (trout snobs can't be bothered, but this fish hits on top and fights right into the net).

Hunting

Bugle

* Number of issues a year: 4

* Established: 1984

* Circulation: 200,000

* Cover price: $4.50

* Subscriptions: (800) CALL-ELK

This attractive magazine is published by the 100,000-member Montana-based Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, a nonprofit group dedicated to conserving, restoring and enhancing habitat for elk and other wildlife. Printed on recycled paper, it nicely covers hunting, natural history, wildlife education and conservation education. Check out the great photographs and special sections for children and women.

Recent features: "A Hunter's Heart" (spurned by strangers because he carried a bow, a hunter looks inward); "Stirring Up Solutions in the Devil's Kitchen" (ranchers and wildlife advocates find common ground in Montana).

***

Bowhunter

* Number of issues a year: 8

* Established: 1971

* Circulation: 200,000

* Cover price: $3.50

* Subscriptions: (800) 435-9610

Founded a quarter century ago by bowhunter and writer M.R. James, this magazine is published by Cowles Enthusiast Media. It covers bowhunting of every animal, from small quails and pheasants to giant kodiak and polar bears, in six regular issues plus two special issues (white-tailed deer and big game).

Recent features: "Treasures of Spring" (bowhunting turkey and fish); "Entry-Level for Everybody" (bow reviews).

***

Deer & Deer Hunting

* Number of issues a year: 8

* Established: 1977

* Circulation: 145,000

* Cover price: $2.98

* Subscriptions: (800) 258-0929

Started by two avid deer hunters, this publication was acquired by Krause Publications, publisher of Trapper & Predator Caller, Turkey & Turkey Hunting and Wisconsin Outdoor Journal. The science-focused magazine finances graduate-level research and includes technical how-to's and sophisticated articles by top deer biologists and other scientists.

Recent features: "Dad" (Susan C. Lanius writes about hunting with her father); "Deer Research: Why Sex Ratios Vary in Whitetails."

***

Varmint Masters

* Number of issues a year: 4

* Established: 1995

* Circulation: 90,000

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