This will be my final column for The Telegraph. For 43 years I have been blessed to be able to explore the great outdoors, share it with others and get paid for it. It doesnt get any better than that.
Most people look at age 65 for retirement. It is difficult to retire from something you truly love. I had planned to still be doing this on my 80th birthday. Circumstances have caused me to fall 10 months short. Now you know my age.
The responses from you, my faithful readers, have been beyond my wildest expectations. The Telegraph served as a stepping stone for me to be able to write for several international magazines, which I once thought to be beyond my reach. For that I will be eternally grateful.
God had a hand in it all. A decade ago, the editor of Predator Xtreme Magazine asked me to submit a number of feature articles for that publication. I warned him that I was a self-made writer, having had no training in journalism.
His reply was, I have a dozen staff writers here in New Mexico who have degrees, but they dont know how to write. I have read many of your articles, and God has blessed you with a rare gift that one does not get in journalism school. You just continue to write from your heart, and I will correct the format errors.
Through the years, the number of emails from my readers began to increase -- often a hundred or more each week. I can truthfully say that I personally answered each one. A scant few of them were hostile, usually those whose belief system is vehemently opposed to the taking of fish from the waters and game from the land. No matter. I respect their right to believe what they want.
Four years ago, when my life was shattered by the sudden and unexpected loss of my wife, Nancy, I was overwhelmed by the responses from my readers. I made copies of each email and still have them in a file that is almost an inch thick. For each response, I thank you from the depths of my heart. A few of you told me that God would send someone else to help fill the hole in my heart. He did.
While I loved to write feature articles, my favorite has always been the question-and-answer opportunities. It was always a challenge to provide answers to your questions, although I had to work really hard to find some of them. Just know that, while I will no longer be in print, I will still answer those questions via email as long as I am physically and mentally able.
Finally, I thank God for these opportunities that have lasted almost half a century. If, through my writing, I have left you with the impression that I have a personal relationship with our Creator -- it was deliberate. I now write my lifes agenda with a pencil and leave the eraser in Gods hands.
Goodbye, and may God richly bless you all.
Contact Emory Josey at email@example.com.