MAHOPAC SCHOOL DISTRICT, N.Y. - Award-winning author Glenn Sapir grew up loving nature—hunting, fishing, birding, hiking, he couldn’t get enough. And that’s a bit strange when one considers he spent the first 11 years of his life in Manhattan, a jungle of the concrete variety.
“I lived in Manhattan until I was 11, but we summered in Putnam Valley and ended up buying a small home just off of Peekskill Hollow Road,” said Sapir, a resident of the Mahopac School District, where his now-grown children once attended school.
“There were some creeks there that had fish in them,” Sapir recalled. “My older brother, he took to fishing and the outdoors and nature and I followed him around. We fished in the streams and chased butterflies in the meadow and caught minnows. Everything about the outdoors appealed to me. That is where it all started. It seemed like another world.”
Those experiences helped inform his career path, which ultimately led Sapir to become the renowned nature columnist and author he is today.
“I was always a big sports fan and I heard a publisher come speak about journalism,” he said. “He encouraged me to get a liberal arts education, which was funny because he was a trustee for Syracuse University’s Newhouse School [of Public Communications].”
Sapir, who has already penned two books (“Secrets of the Turkey Pros” and “Hunting Camp Journal” for the North American Hunting Club), will give presentations at the Mahopac and Putnam Valley public libraries in February to introduce his new tome, “A Sapir Sampler: Favorites by an Outdoor Writer,” during which he will sign copies. The leatherette-bound hardcover includes 167 of his selected favorites from the 1,000-plus articles he has had published throughout his career. Many of those articles have earned awards from the Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA) and the New York State Outdoor Writers Association.
Sapir’s career achievements have been recognized with lifetime Excellence in Craft awards from OWAA and the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers. He was named Communicator of the Year by the National Wild Turkey Federation and has been inducted into the New York State Outdoorsmen’s Hall of Fame.
Sapir began his career on the staff of Outdoor Life magazine in 1970. He later served as an editor of Sports Afield magazine and, for 18 years, of Field & Stream, becoming the first person to serve as an editor of all the “Big Three” outdoor publications. In addition, Sapir wrote the outdoor column for The Journal News and its predecessors for 27 years. For the last year he wrote a popular column, “Here and There, Now and Then,” for New York Outdoor News. He has also freelanced prolifically, writing for dozens of publications, as well as serving as a fishing expert for the World Book Encyclopedia and authoring a project for the U.S. Forest Service.
In 2014, Sapir retired from the National Shooting Sports Foundation and began to wonder what he would do next.
“I knew I wanted to travel and write about topics that I would choose and do some hunting and fishing,” he said. “I just wanted more time to do the things I wanted to do. And I decided that would create a book of my favorite articles throughout my career to serve as a legacy for my family and friends. I wanted to self-publish so I would have complete control. What I envisioned would be a 200-page book turned into a 480-page book.”
Sapir’s career has taken him all around the world, from the Arctic Ocean to the Amazon basin and 48 of the 50 states.
“The only two states I haven’t been are Hawaii and Ohio,” he said with a laugh. “But we are going to Hawaii later this year and my wife and I hope to get to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and check that one off.”
Sapir said the business trips he made while writing for the outdoor magazines were probably the best anyone has ever taken.
“I had the opportunity to travel and my business trips were done more with a fishing rod or shotgun than a laptop,” he said. “It’s been a good life drawing a line between vocation and avocation. This new book is a gift to explain to my friends and family what I’ve been doing all these years!”
Besides articles related to fishing and hunting, “Sapir’s Selections” includes favorites on hiking, birding, camping, photography, rafting, tubing and other outdoor pursuits. In fact, some of Sapir’s bird photos have been on display in the Mahopac Public Library.
Sapir, who has fished and hunted in a half-dozen Canadian provinces, said his Arctic trip was one of the most memorable expeditions of his career.
“It was in the summer, but it was still freezing,” he recalled. “I spent the week at the Great Bear Lodge above the Arctic circle. We fished for arctic char with Inuit guides. I only kept one of the fish that I caught, and it was the first one that I ever had mounted—a memory of the wonderful trip and the great people I met there.
“Lunches with lake trout cooked over an open fire are some of the best meals I’ve ever had,” he added.
Sapir’s son and daughter, now adults, have also embraced a love of nature, but in their own way.
“They share my enthusiasm in different ways,” he said. “My daughter is a professional herbalist, and my son loves to backpack and fish and has begun to appreciate getting his own game and eating organic meat. He lives in Colorado and I flew out there we did a turkey hunt together.”
Sapir said that as much as he loves the thrill of the hunt and reeling in a big catch, his greatest satisfaction comes from seeing his words in print.
“When it comes to satisfaction for a job well done,” Sapir writes in his book, “nothing beats seeing my articles in print. What were experiences, then thoughts, and then written words became something permanent to be held, to be read and to be shared with others.”
Sapir will appear at the Putnam Valley Library, 30 Oscawana Lake Road, on Saturday, Feb. 16, at 2 p.m. and at the Mahopac Library, 688 Route 6, on Sunday, Feb. 17, also at 2 p.m.
Those unable to attend the presentations can order “A Sapir Sampler: Favorites by an Outdoor Writer” for $29.50, plus $5 shipping, via check or money order, sent to Glenn Sapir, Ashmark Communications Inc., 21 Shamrock Dr., Putnam Valley, NY 10579.