Magazines for hunters and fishermen have been around in North America for about as long as modern magazines have been around in North America, that is to say, a long time, since the 1850s-1870s or so. Hunting for whitetail, mule deer, elk, and wild turkey and fishing for trout, steelhead, bass, striper and marlin in saltwater was how landowners of that era fed their families. In the 20th century, sportfishing became popular and saltwater fly fishermen would fish for bonefish in the flats in Florida and the Caribbean. The bounty of the land has always been relatively plentiful, and many people still live off it to some degree, and a LOT of magazines cater to these folks. Learn to write for these mags and you’ve got some good, steady paychecks coming your way.
The first thing you need to remember about writing for hunting and fishing magazines is that your audience is largely men, with a small but dedicated minority of women. In some cases, kids read them also, but mostly your audience is male hunters and fishermen, often from rural or non-urban areas. Think more an outlying town near Tulsa, Oklahoma than Newark, New Jersey. Or anywhere in New Jersey. Your writing voice needs to be homespun, plainspoken, and your prose style needs to be simple, direct, and point to point. Avoid “fifty cent” language. Your readers (and editors) can tell when your writing in this style is authentic, and cornpone will always sound like cornpone and will not win you friends. My best advice to people wishing to write for these mags is to get a big stack of them, sit down in an overstuffed armchair in front of a fire on a cold night, or out on the front porch in a rocker or swing on a warm one, and read them. This is how your readers do it.
Another thing you need to remember, and which several of the magazines listed below specify in their guidelines, is to write tight, detailed and specific. If the buck was a ten-point buck, say that. Don’t just say “it was a big buck”. Likewise, if a brookie measured 15 inches and weighed eight pounds, mention that. Often, a good way to begin an article for a hunting/fishing mag is with historical details about a place, or the hunting and fishing in a place. Tall tales told by locals can be summarized and made into article introductions. These mags do not like, use or publish academic work and most don’t like non-first person work. If you want to do an article on muskellunge fishing in Lake Erie, rent a cabin with some friends, take your gear up there, hire a guide for $75 a day, and do it. And keep your notebook or a good memory handy. You’ll have so many good stories to tell that an article will write itself. TAKE PHOTOS ALSO! These mags are HIGHLY photo oriented and sometimes print full page, non-cover color photos.
A third thing to remember is that these mags are very seasonally oriented, and to write for them regularly you MUST be aware of hunting and fishing seasons in the geographic area you plan to write about. These magazines work ahead a few months, although probably not the six or eight months ahead some other genres of magazine work. But if you want to do an article on, say, ultralight baitcasting for brook trout, you need to query it in December of ’07 to get the nod for the beginning of the ’08 season (April here in New Jersey) for publication at the beginning of the ’09 season. Same general idea with deer, turkey, and saltwater fishing magazines, and all the rest.
So that’s the basics. Hope to see you in the stream, and maybe in the pages of Field and Stream, and hopefully your writing efforts will net you some big checks!
Saltwater Fly Fishing
Guidelines at: http://sffmag.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=61&Itemid=106
Pays $350 and up for features, about $200-$300 for short pieces
Deer and Deer Hunting
Guidelines at: http://www.deeranddeerhunting.com/editorial
Pays $150 to $600 for features
Field and Stream
Guidelines at: http://www.fieldandstream.com/answers/other/what-are-writers-guidelines
Pay ranges from $100 to “several thousand dollars based on the quality of the work, the experience of the author, and the difficulty obtaining the story”
Western Sportsman (Canadian Magazine)
Guidelines at: http://www.westernsportsman.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/WS_contributor_guidelines_download.pdf
NOTE: Their guidelines only note that they do not pay “by the word” but that they do pay. They are also very interested, apparently, in very tight, detailed, descriptive writing with some “historical touches”. They want specificity. You can reach them at (604) 606-4064 in Vancouver, but they say that pay varies “depending on the amount of revision required per manuscript”. I am going to hazard a guess that many of their writers are hunters and fishermen more than writers. A professional writer in British Columbia with strong hunting and fishing experience might do well here.
Sportfishing Magazine(s) An amalgam name for several different magazine. This tendency is not unusual for hunting and fishing magazines–for instance, “Game and Fish” is many separate magazines for each state or region but the writer’s guidelines are the same for all (see below). Guidelines can be found here: http://www.sportfishingmag.com/contributor/editorial-guidelines-and-policies
Pays $500 for general features, $700 for straight how to, and into $1500 and $2000 for great articles with lots of stunning photos
North American Whitetail
As per their website: “To receive a copy of the magazine’s submission guidelines, mail your request, along with a letter-sized SASE, to: North American Whitetail, Editorial Guidelines, 2250 Newmarket Parkway; Suite 110, Marietta, GA 30067.”
Turkey and Turkey Hunting
No specific guidelines other than no “me and Joe” stories.
Pays $275-400 for features
Guidelines are at http://www.rmef.org/NewsandMedia/BugleMagazine/Tips.aspx
Pays $0.20 per word
Guidelines are at http://www.outdoorcanada.ca/contributor-guidelines
Pays from $0.50/word (CDN).
Shotgun Sports Magazine
Guidelines are at http://www.shotgunsportsmagazine.com/downloads/ss_writersguide.pdf
Pays flat fee of $50 – $200 for 1000-5000 words.
Find more paying markets by searching the “markets and jobs” for the terms “hunting” and “fishing” here.
David Berlin is a 31-year-old writer who lives on the Jersey Shore. He was paid the princely sum of $65 for his first piece when he was twenty, which kept him in breakfasts at the local Woolworth’s lunch counter, and has been writing for money ever since. He’ll travel anywhere and write anything for anyone if the price is right; he’s written for Antiqueweek, the Well Water Journal, Weatherwise, and a whole host of others. When not at his desk he can be found mooching around his adopted town; eating at the diner and keeping his ears open. You can find him on the web at http://www.groovydaveonline.com and you can look at his Starving Artist’s Survival Guide Blog and Starving Artist Tip Of The Day at .