Well, Bestul sure as hell ain’t going to ring his own bell. (His Midwestern sensibilities would never allow that.) And so I’m here to tell you that last week, at the Quality Deer Management Association’s 13th National Convention in Athens, Georgia, the country’s top deer conservation group honored Scott with their Communicator of the Year Award.
“A fearless, fair reporter and critic for the world’s biggest outdoor magazine,” the MC, Lindsay Thomas, read at the ceremony, “Bestul has chronicled the recent whitetail boom and challenged millions of today’s outdoorsmen to become not just hunters but the managers of one of our most treasured resources.”
As his long-time editor, I couldn’t have said it better myself. As just two examples from this past year, Bestul dug into Gov. Scott Walker’s controversial Executive Order No. 44, appointing prominent Texas biologist James “Dr. Deer” Kroll as Wisconsin’s Whitetail Deer Trustee, in “The Deer Czar.” A few months later, for our February 2013 Great Stories issue, he showed his range with “Regret,” a devastatingly honest account of a huge buck shot and lost.
And last year reveals just a small sample of what Bestul’s been doing for more than two decades. You might remember the potential walking world-record whitetail in 2008 that quickly became known to the hunting world as the “Field & Stream Buck” That was Bestul’s doing. In 2010, when a Minnesota district court judge found the owners of Scent-Lok clothing liable for false advertising (for which they have since been legally exonerated) and the rest of the outdoor media collectively stared at its feet, Bestul wrote “Something Stinks at Scent-Lok,” a tirelessly researched journalistic account of the ruling and a defense of consumer protections for sportsmen. Meanwhile, as so many other so-called pros and experts also happen to be selling you something, Bestul is trying to figure out, on your behalf, what actually works and what doesn’t, with stories like “Your Ultimate Bow” and his ongoing “Sniff Test,” in which a drug-sniffing dog helps ferret out what products really can and can’t fool a buck’s nose (hint: most can’t).
Anyway, enough of this lovefest; I think I’m getting a hive. But if you check out the embedded links above, you’ll see for yourself why Bestul’s recent award is so well deserved.