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From the Pen of Carter P. Smith

You can tell a lot about a man by the pictures he keeps. I was reminded of that observation not long ago while sitting in the office of a South Texas rancher I was scheduled to meet. While waiting for his arrival, I could not help but gaze upon his collection of black-and-white photos on the walls, full of memories from his 70-some-odd years of life in the Brush Country. From the look of things, he had seen more than his fair share of working pens, round-ups, mornings on horseback, ranch hands, cow dogs and bird dogs, and successful deer hunts. I hadn’t even met the man behind those pictures yet, but I instantly knew I was going to like him.

I had that very same impression of Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine some 30-plus years ago, when my grandmother on my mother’s side gave me a subscription as a Christmas present. As a boy, I recall immersing myself every month in the outdoor articles, and particularly in the spectacular photographs that accompanied them. Pictures of snow-capped peaks in the Chisos, bighorn rams atop the Sierra Diablos, fall foliage at Lost Maples and McKittrick Canyon, green jays perched amidst groves of ebony trees, and majestic white-tailed bucks silhouetted against fading Hill Country sunsets all stoked my imagination and inspired me to get outdoors and fish, hunt, hike, bird watch and generally roam around the lands and waters of my home ground.

And, although my dear grandmother is no longer with us on this earth, I say a silent word of thanks to her each and every month when the new issue of the magazine comes into the office. I think she’d like the fact that I still get those same very feelings of inspiration, curiosity and pride in our state’s vast beauty and heritage that I did when I was just a boy. I hope those same feelings are elicited in you when you receive your issue of this magazine.

I want you to know that our magazine is created, edited and produced by a remarkable group of colleagues. To a one, they take very seriously their charge to produce a mission-focused publication that represents the most relevant, topical, wide-ranging and informative conservation and outdoor recreation magazine in the state. A big part of that charge is ensuring that the magazine’s photos help complement and augment those written stories through dramatic and relevant imagery.

This issue, in contrast, is dedicated to the photographs. In these pages, you will be treated to the work of some of the most talented and creative outdoor photographers in all of Texas, if not the world. Their genius lies in making the natural richness of the Texas landscape in all its corners, forms, habitats and inhabitants accessible to us all. I hope you enjoy the images of this edition as much as I do. And if you think about it, please share it with a friend, neighbor, colleague or maybe even a grandchild. Who knows where it may lead them?

Happy New Year’s from all of us at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Thanks for caring about Texas’ wild things and wild places. They need you more than ever.

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