B y Dan King
If you are a reader of the Times, chances are at one point or another you have come across the column known as “Outdoors in Whitehall.”
Through his column, Gene Terry has been exercising his first amendment right to free speech for quite some time now. As far as Terry can recall, the column dates back to sometime in the 1980s, when he was approached by the Times and asked to right a piece about issues facing outdoorsmen in Whitehall.
“I never thought about being a writer, I took it on a whim, probably over 30 years ago.” Terry said, “I’ve had a lot of fun with it, made some people angry, made some people laugh.”
Terry submits his opinions to the Times and gets them published, in an attempt to have his voice heard.
“It gives me a voice for what I want to say and it gives sportsmen a voice,” Terry added, “If this column helps my fellow sportsmen at all, then I’m all about it.”
When Terry feels the urge to get something out there to the public, he takes out a pen and paper and starts writing. Once he has jotted down everything he needs to say for that sitting, he folds up the letter, puts it in an envelope, throws his name on it and brings it to the Whitehall Times office.
“I am certainly no typer, that would take forever,” Terry jested, “I took typing back in high school, but I’m certainly no computer whiz or typer, so I just hand write it.”
Even as the Times’ office locations change, Terry adapts and manages to get his letters to the Times and have his voice heard, on what he sees as pressing issues facing the people of Whitehall. Whether it’s new regulations for hunters, gun legislation from the capital or a variety other issues related to life outdoors, this longtime Whitehaller advocates his viewpoint to his fullest.
The 79-year-old spent 15 years working at Nibco in South Glens Falls, then started working in corrections, before eventually retiring.
Where does the passion come from?
“I’m a firm believer that nature is beautiful and that we should be out in nature; unfortunately young people are not passionate enough about conservation and the outdoors.” Terry explained “I don’t know what makes me keep writing this column, other than it keeps me informed and hopefully this passion will rub off on the younger generations; it doesn’t even have to be hunting and fishing, simply enjoying the outdoors.”
Terry credits his parents and his upbringing for his passion for the great outdoors and the activities that he is involved in.
“Mom and Dad loved fishing, Dad loved hunting, we had no money, but we had fun,” Terry recalled, “If it weren’t for mom and dad, I probably wouldn’t have a passion for the outdoors.”
Recalling the history of sportsmen in Whitehall
The column is just one of the many ways Terry has been involved in what he perceives as ‘sportsmen rights.’
Additionally, Terry was president of the Adirondack Conservation Council, president of the Whitehall Fish and Game Club, president of the Washington County Federation of Sportsmen, a member of the New York State Conservation Council, a member of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association and a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association.
Terry also taught shooting and safety to kids in Whitehall for many years, under the federal government’s Department of Civilian Marksmanship. He remembered that program being incredibly popular and teaching the proper safety techniques, before it dissolved.
Keeping nature accessible is the top of Terry’s priority list and he credited some upstate New York politicians for helping with this effort.
“We have had tremendous cooperation from Senator Betty Little on conservation issues. Without support from our elected officials in upstate New York, who knows what would happen to nature?” Terry pondered.
He recalled one particular instance where Little helped in creating reciprocal licenses for fishing on Lake Champlain, thus allowing New York and Vermont licenses to work anywhere on the lake.
Terry stays busy, even when he isn’t writing pieces for the paper. He is still an active hunter and fisher, involved in the Whitehall Fish and Game Club, spends time babysitting his grandchildren and many other things.
B y Dan King