Seventy-fifth Anniversary

Game News

1929: A first class stamp cost 2 cents. Herbert Hoover became President. The infamous St. Valentine's Day massacre occurred, as did the worst stock market crash in history, which lead to the Great Depression. The latest information and entertainment craze was: the radio. In fact, the first car radios became available that year , and to make one work, all a person had to do was stop, get out and mount an antenna on the roof.

1929 is also when the Pennsylvania Game News began, and now, 75 years (900 issues) later, the Game News is still going strong. Game News began as the "Monthly Service Bulletin." The first was 11 pages long (one side of the paper only) and run off on a mimeograph machine. If you don't remember mimeograph machines, think old-fashioned typewriters and carbon paper. If you don't remember those, think stone tablets.

In this age of email and cell phones, it's probably hard to also imagine that the "Monthly Service Bulletin" began as a way for the Game Commission to communicate with officers in the field, and for officers to communicate among themselves. This was back when many officers had no telephones and even patrolled on horseback.

In July of 1931 the "Monthly Service Bulletin" was renamed the Pennsylvania Game News, and less than a year later, in April '32, Game News was made available to the public. Subscriptions were 50 cents a year, and by the time that first issue came off the press, 1,600 subscribers had signed on.

Leading off that first issue for the public, Governor Gifford Pinchot wrote, "The program of the Pennsylvania Game News will help the people of Pennsylvania to learn more about the wild creatures of the open spaces and what they mean to us, and how we can keep them alive in health and plenty for our satisfaction and their own."

That statement is just as true today.

The fundamental purpose of Game News is to promote hunting and trapping, the programs of the Game Commission, and the wise management and conservation of our natural resources. We cover just about everything related to outdoor Pennsylvania except fishing and boating. Hunting, of course, is our mainstay. One of the reasons for the magazine's popularity, and what sets us apart from maybe every other hunting magazine, is that we run "Me & Joe" type stories by everyday sportsmen and women - your friend or neighbor, co-worker or classmate, perhaps even you -who have interesting hunts or other experiences to share.

Technical articles about Game Commission research projects and management programs, most often by PGC biologists or staff writers, give you, our readers, the most accurate and up-to-date information on what the agency is doing to protect and enhance wildlife and hunting and trapping. Why the spring gobbler season opens when it does, what to do if bats are in your home, and the latest Game-Take survey results are but a few recent examples of how, through Game News, readers are kept informed about what the PGC is doing and why.

Scanning the 75 years of Game News, seeing the names Seth Gordon, Roger Latham, Richard Gerstell, Ross Leffler, Glenn Bowers, Arnie Hayden, Jerry Wunz, Steve Liscinsky, Gary Alt and many others, reads like a who's who of wildlife management, and their writings represent a comprehensive history of wildlife management and conservation in Pennsylvania. Maintaining that history is another important part of Game News.

Columnists, too, have been key to the popularity of Game News. Thanks to experts both past and present, readers have been treated to the latest and best information on firearms and shooting, archery and bowhunting, wildlife natural history and much more. Don Lewis has been penning the "Shooters Corner" column since 1965. Simply amazing. Just as noteworthy, especially considering the dramatic changes in the sport that took place over the years, is Keith Schuyler's tenure as the "Straight from the Bowstring" columnist from 1964 until 1997. In recent years, we've enjoyed the writings of four rotating columnists in the bow and gun columns, getting a wider variety of ideas and experiences. Susan Pajak, Ed Shearer, Archibold Rutledge, Ted Trueblood, Hal Harrison, Linda Steiner, Marcia Bonta, Bob Sopchick, Connie Mertz, Bill Einsig, Jim Varner, Tom Forbes . . . the list goes on and on. Since the very beginning, the works of many of the country's finest outdoor writers have graced the pages of Game News.

Covering what our law enforcement officers do is another important part of Game News. Noteworthy here are the "Diary," Looking Back" and "Behind the Badge" type accounts we've been running almost continuously for nearly 30 years. In 1977 Jack Weaver started the "DGP Diary" column, which gave an almost day-by-day account of what field officers do throughout the year. Other officers penned this column in following years, voluntarily, on top of their regular job demands, just to give us all a better understanding and appreciation of the wide variety of responsibilities wildlife conservation officers and land management officers have.

In recent years, we've been running accounts of law enforcement cases, featuring a different officer each month - who, again, write these on their own time, so we can get a feel for what all our law enforcement officers face in the performance of their duties. Just check out WCO Fred Merluzzi's "Broad Mountain Bank Robber," beginning on page 18, for an excellent example.

Following Leo Luttringer, Will Johns served as editor until 1961 -with Ned Smith filling in as acting editor while Johns served in Korea. George Harrison followed Johns, who in turn was followed by Jim Bashline. Bob Bell took over in February 1967 and held the position until 1990, when I took over. Ted Godshall, Chuck Fergus, Toni Williams, Scott Rupp, and now Bob D'Angelo and Larissa Rose have also worked as Game News staff writers and editors.

Another reason for Game News' uniqueness and popularity is the artwork we feature, and among the many outstanding artists who have contributed to Game News over the years, foremost is Ned Smith. Ned's first illustration for Game News appeared in the October 1948 issue, and his first cover was on the January 1952 issue. In 1950, following the death of Jacob Bates Abbott, Ned was hired as a staff artist, a position he held until 1953. Ned went on to earn fame as one of the 20th century's preeminent artists, and until his death in April 1985, Ned's art graced 118 covers. He illustrated countless other features, and is also well known for his "Walking Shoes" and "Gone for the Day" columns.

Another artist almost synonymous with Game News is Nick Rosato. Along with illustrations for countless inside features and covers (including this month's), Nick has been illustrating "Field Notes" since 1959 - more than 3,000 cartoons!

And speaking of "Field Notes," they have long been the most popular part of the magazine. Since the beginning, "Field Note" items have been run, at first as a way for officers to share tips and other information. Over the years, such items were in sections titled "Miscellaneous," "Odds & Ends," "Random Notes," and "Notes from the Field."

In 1950 Game News was changed from the standard, 9 x 12 format to the current 6 x 9 size, and today is known across the country - and in many foreign countries, too - because of this distinctive size.

During my time with Game News, I've seen the evolution of desktop publishing, credit card sales and toll-free numbers for subscribers, internet sales, greatly expanded newsstand sales, and even the posting of Game News on the internet, and I've also had the pleasure to work with as fine a bunch of writers, artists, photographers and fellow PGC employees as anybody could ever imagine.

Seventy-five years is a long time in the magazine business. Few magazines have enjoyed such longevity, and this is attributed directly to you, our loyal readers of yesterday and today. Nobody in 1929 is likely to have ever imagined just what the "Monthly Service Bulletin" would become, the biggest little outdoor magazine in the country.

- Bob Mitchell