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Puget Sound’s Last Weekly Outdoor Reporter Retires

The last regular hook-and-bullet writer for a large daily newspaper in the Puget Sound region is retiring.

Wayne Kruse announced it was time to “hang up my hoochie” with a farewell column in Sunday’s Everett Herald.

Kruse has been at the Snohomish County paper of record since 1976, contributing fishing and hunting reports that prepped sportsmen for the weekend as well as provided a heads up on management and legislative issues.

Tom Nelson, cohost of 710 ESPN Seattle’s The Outdoor Line, lauded him as “truly a regional treasure.”

“I consider myself very fortunate to call this man an inspiration, a mentor and a friend,” Nelson posted on Facebook. “Mr. Kruse, you will be truly missed.”

Before hiring on at the Herald, Kruse freelanced for local and national outdoor publications, including the Western Washington edition of F&H News, as well as worked as a middle school teacher in the Edmonds district.

WAYNE KRUSE’S MUG SHOT (THIRD FROM LEFT) APPEARS IN THE OCT. 4, 1975 ISSUE OF WESTERN WASHINGTON FISHING & HUNTING NEWS, IN WHICH HE HAD STORIES ON RABBIT HUNTING IN THE SAN JUAN ISLANDS AND DUCKS ON THE SKAGIT FLATS. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Kruse wrote that advising folks on how to get kids into fishing, sharing how-tos for smelt jigging up at La Conner or the number for a good guide, and where they could go to see wildlife or pick mushrooms made his the “best job in the world.”

It’s an increasingly rare one too as newspapers shrink to stay afloat or fold.

His exit, at the age of 80, was preceded by last spring’s decision by The Seattle Times to end regular fishing coverage, which led to Mark Yuasa’s departure (he’s now with the Northwest Marine Trade Association).

True, you can still find some weekly outdoor coverage in these parts — Bob Brown at the weekly Eatonville Dispatch, Michael Carman in Port Angeles’ Peninsula Daily News — but where once news about where the fish were biting, clams were being dug and ducks flocking to were staples in Thursday sports sections of the Bellingham Herald, Tacoma News Tribune, The Olympian, Kitsap Sun, and the now-defunct Seattle PI, among others, nowadays the sporadic stories that do appear either online or in print are mainly geared towards controversies.

Other recent retirements in Washington’s outdoor reporting world have included Rich Landers and Al Thomas at the Spokane Spokesman-Review and The Columbian last year. While those papers laudibly replaced the longtime pens with Eli Francovich (he of last week’s 197-pound cougar scoop) and Terry Otto, a former columnist for this magazine, it wasn’t immediately clear what the Everett Herald planned to do with Kruse’s space.

But all is not lost for ensuring Snohomish County and North Sound sportsmen’s voices are heard.

Kruse (no relation to John Kruse, the Wenatchee-based outdoor radio show host) had some comforting words in his goodbye.

“I think one of the most encouraging things I’ve watched in my 43 years on the beat is the change in the level of expertise being wielded by recreation interests in Olympia — clubs, associations, other organizations. These days they’re smart, prepared, organized and ready to fight. They know who to see and what to say, and they deserve your support, particularly in a state with issues as complex as those we have here,” he wrote in his adieu.

Hear hear!

And in the meanwhile, hats off to a fine career helping spread the news on fishing and hunting!