Writer J. Wayne Fears Inducted Into GOWA Fishing And Hunting Hall Of Fame
J. Wayne Fears is somebody special in the outdoor field. He has lived a life full of outdoor adventure, and I see him as an outdoor writer’s outdoor writer. Basically, he’s a cut above the average outdoor writer who just writes occasionally and has to really work hard to put the bones on a good story. I have read his stories for many years and several of his books are sitting on my bookshelf, as this guy knows his stuff! It comes naturally to Fears because he has lived the outdoor dream for 80-plus years.
A former Eagle Scout and son of a trapper who grew up in north Alabama, Fears grew up hunting and fishing to put food on the table. He joined the Army National Guard while in high school because, his bio says, “He could not believe the government would furnish him with ammo to shoot.”
After graduating from Auburn, he worked as a wildlife specialist with the University of Georgia. As the years went by, he would host a weekly radio program, get a master’s degree, oversee 500,000 acres as chief wildlife manager for Gulf States Paper Corp., and he would write some 6,000 magazine articles for Field and Stream, Outdoor Life, Backpacker, Canoe, Whitetails Unlimited, Bowhunting World, North American Hunter and many others.
He was the former editor of Rural Sportsman magazine and in his “spare time” he has written more than 30 books on a variety of subjects ranging from cabin building (including “How to Build Your Dream Cabin in the Woods”) to survival (“The Pocket Outdoor Survival Guide”) to cookbooks (including “The Complete Book of Dutch Oven Cooking”).
Fears knows how to get by in the woods with just his wits and knowledge acquired over the decades. Many years ago, he had to survive in the wilderness for 15 days without food and supplies. It all happened when he was scouting hunting locations near the Yukon/British Columbia border in Canada, and the person who dropped him off didn’t come back as agreed. A grizzly stalked his camp every night. Fears had to fashion something crude to cook with and survived mostly on rainbow trout. He finally used a red shirt on a long pole to flag down a supply plane—that was off course due to a storm—to rescue him. As they say, a country boy will get by!
Fears has taken all sorts of people on paid hunting expeditions, including Hank Williams Jr., baseball players, actor Patrick Duffy of “Dallas” and former Vice President Hubert Humphrey, to name a few. I didn’t see a single poor redneck hunter anywhere on the list, so I’d like to volunteer for that duty!
Recently Fears was called to Rome, Ga. to receive a very prestigious honor from the Georgia Outdoor Writers Association (GOWA). After a rigorous review and a secret vote by the members of the Georgia Outdoor Writers Association, Fears was inducted into the Georgia Outdoor Writers Fishing and Hunting Hall of Fame, which is housed in the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center near Mansfield.
Charlie Elliott was the first person inducted into the Hall of Fame, but others include Jack Wingate, Steve Burch, George Perry, Jimmy Jacobs, Arthur Woody and others. The Hall of Fame was started many years ago by Dean Wohlgemuth, who many consider to be one of Georgia’s finest outdoor writers. He worked for the Georgia Game and Fish Commission back in the 1960s and wrote many stories for the Game and Fish Magazine, a small color magazine that was one of the few outdoor publications available to outdoorsmen at the time. As a young man, I recall making many trips down to the mailbox at the end of my long driveway to anxiously await the latest issue arriving to read Dean’s latest hunting and fishing adventure. Dean, now 88, lives in Jesup and loves to read books and magazine stories by J. Wayne Fears.
Now in his 80s, Fears still has many excellent ideas for books and magazine stories percolating through his mind that we will soon see in print. I, for one, can’t wait! Fears lives in Cross Creek Hallow, Ala. in a cabin he built with his own two hands, and he still enjoys living the outdoor life.