Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Sportsman, Conservationist, and Outdoor Writer Ted Trueblood [otd 06/26]

Ted Trueblood, angler.
Trueblood Collection,
Boise State University.
Hunter, angler, conservationist, and writer Cecil Whittaker “Ted" Trueblood was born June 26, 1913 in Boise. He grew up on a farm near Wilder (10-12 miles west of Caldwell).

Ted sold the first of a prodigious number of articles about outdoor activities in 1931, the same year he graduated from high school. The article ran under the pseudonym J. W. Wintring. As the story goes, the magazine editor thought Ted’s real name was itself a pen name, “and not a very good one.”

Trueblood tried the college life for awhile, first at College of Idaho in Caldwell. In the depths of the Great Depression, he dropped out to find work half way through his junior year. In 1935, he attended a semester at the University of Idaho, but then landed a job as a reporter for a Boise newspaper.

After a year there, he moved to Salt Lake City and worked for the Deseret News. Ted also had a go at freelance writing. That proved inadequate for a newly-married man and in 1940 he hired on with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

Trueblood actually had an earlier connection with the Department of Fish and Game. In 1938, he joined the campaign to pass a voter Initiative to created a non-political Idaho Fish and Game Commission [blog, June 21]. The measure passed handily, becoming the first successful Idaho citizens’ Initiative .

Ted’s articles earned him a job as Fishing Editor for Field & Stream magazine. For that position, Ted and his wife moved to New York in 1941. That didn’t last long, due to a “company shakeup” that got him fired. Ted spent a year as a photographer in North Carolina, and then the couple moved back to Idaho. In 1944, Ted was rehired by Field & Stream and they returned to New York.

However, three years later, Trueblood decided to leave the Eastern rat-race behind. By then his name – which many readers thought was a too-good-to-be-true pseudonym – had drawing power.

For the rest of his days he would live the life he wrote so well about. Your "blogster" is one of many who avidly read his articles in Field & Stream and other outdoors magazines. Nor was he just a fishing guru, he also expertly hunted all kinds of game.
Ted Trueblood, bird hunter.
Trueblood Collection, BSU.

But Trueblood was not just a hunter or angler; he loved nature for its own sake. His writing conveyed that feeling, and sent many into the outdoors for their mental and physical well-being. Moreover, he was a conservationist long before it was “fashionable." He is generally given a significant part of the credit for creation of the Frank Church/River of No Return Wilderness Area.

Ted belonged to numerous outdoor and conservation groups: Ducks Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, the Idaho Wildlife Federation, and others. Ted received many, many awards for conservation advocacy and outdoor writing, including several “Outdoorsman of the Year" awards.

Along with his writing, Trueblood often spoke and gave demonstrations to interested audiences. He also appeared in several outdoor sports films, many of which ended up on television. Ted even appeared as one of the “featured anglers” in a series of movies on fishing in Canada. Trueblood demonstrated how to tie flies, proper casting techniques, and how to handle “the big ones.” 

Sadly, he contracted bone cancer in his late sixties. After several years of unavailing surgery and chemotherapy, Trueblood died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in September 1982.
References: Richard J. Beck, Famous Idahoans, Williams Printing, (© Richard J. Beck, 1989).
Roger Phillips, “Ted Trueblood: Outdoor writer set the benchmark,” The Idaho Statesman (March 28, 2002).
“Ted Trueblood: Biography,” Ted Trueblood Collection, MSS 89, Boise State University (2000).
“Cecil Whittaker ‘Ted’ Trueblood,” Reference Series No. 1145, Idaho State Historical Society (January 1996).

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