The woods were a bit stiller, the waters a bit calmer and the wildlife just a bit quieter across the North Country this past weekend, as news spread that the Press Republican's long-time, outdoor writer, Dennis Aprill, had died unexpectedly Saturday, July 3 from a form of pancreatic cancer.
Anglers and guides, paddlers and hikers, birders, hunters and fellow outdoor writers were saddened with the news. Aprill first began his popular, award winning "Outdoor Perspective" column in the Sunday issue of the Press Republican Sept. 9, 1990. He continued to regularly produce a full page of outdoor news for the Sunday issue, for more than 20 years, without missing a single week.
His columns offered a little bit of something for all audiences. Whether it was big game hunting, bird watching, wild flowers or flyfishing, Aprill managed to collect something to entertain and enlighten his readers every Sunday for more than 1,000 weeks in a row. He never missed a beat.
It is a feat that is difficult to fathom, especially considering the fact that most of the outdoor writers I know are incredible procrastinators. Most writers prefer to be in the field or on the water, rather than sitting around writing about the same. However, Aprill, with seeming ease and recognized excellence, managed to do both. At the same time, he also worked full-time as a professor of journalism at Plattsburgh State and managed to raise a fine family.
Always an excellent source of information about the outdoors, Aprill worked hard to bring together many of the region's finest fishing authorities to author chapters of his book, Good Fishing in the Adirondacks. He updated and released a second edition of the book this past spring. He had also authored several hiking guidebooks including Paths Less Traveled, Short Treks in the Adirondacks and Beyond and had co-authored a field guide, Mammals of the Adirondacks.
Although Aprill's "Outdoor Perspective" column in the Sunday, Press Republican was read far and wide, he also contributed regularly to numerous national and regional magazines including Vermont Outdoors, Adirondack Life, Sports Afield and the NYS Conservationist.
As a writer, Aprill's work was highly regarded and he regularly earned awards from the NYS Outdoor Writers Association, the New England Outdoor Writers Association and the Outdoor Writers Association of America. He was honored as well by the state Department of Environmental Conservation Earth Day Media Partnership, and in 1999, the Woodmen of the World named him their Conservationist of the Year.
In 2009, Aprill was inducted into the NYS Outdoorsman Hall of Fame, joining the ranks of such local notables as Bob Brown of Saranac Lake, the late Nellie Staves of Tupper Lake, Bill Wellman of Plattsburgh and the late, Francis Betters of Wilmington, who also was a regular contributor to Aprill's outdoor page.
In recent months, Aprill's page also featured stories written by a number of fine writers including Elizabeth Lee of Westport and Dan Ladd from Fort Ann. Aprill also continued to feature regular weekly columns written by the late, great Francis Betters. Betters' writings, about flyfishing the Ausable River, are as timely today as when he first wrote them. The fly hatches he studied and the fly patterns he created are still "spot on accurate."
Aprill presented outdoor news in a manner that allowed it to be easily digested by all users. He also provided a role model for families by regularly involving his children in his outdoor adventures. He was both a sportsman's advocate and an environmentalist, a feat accomplished by walking a line that is far more difficult to travel when walking and talking within the Blueline.
He is survived by his wife, Kathy; son, Colin and daughter, Karalyn. Services for Dennis Aprill will be held on Thursday, July 8 at the Brown Funeral Home in Plattsburgh. Calling hours will begin at 6 pm followed by a Celebratory Observance in Dennis' memory beginning at 7:30 pm.
Elizabethtown Fish & Game Fishing
Riding the crest of a huge wave of support that still lingers from last summer, the revitalized Elizabethtown Fish and Game Club has announced plans for their Second Annual Fishing Tournament.
Scheduled to be hosted on July 11, 2010 at Lincoln Pond, the family friendly event is open to all anglers, adults and children. Featuring a variety of prizes and awards, including a 50/50 Raffle, the event will kick off at 6:00am. For entries and information all Angela Wallace at 518-873-3277 requires pre-registration with a $20 fee.
Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org