Growing up in Appalachia, I landed my first farm-raised rainbow trout at the age of three and hunted my first gray squirrel at age five. Venison was the staple red meat in our freezer and my father, his brother, and my mother’s parents were avid hunters and fishermen.
My grandfather was a particularly savvy mentor and carried me atop his shoulders as we hiked for squirrel when I was a toddler. He taught me to shoot, handle and respect firearms. He taught me how to spot and stalk and what it means to be patient, a virtue which has largely escaped me in adulthood. He taught me how to work plugs for bass and to cast a fly for trout and panfish. And he taught me early lessons of conservation relative to bag limits, following game laws, and even a few tidbits on fishery management.
Grandpa was a carpenter and oil-painter exercising masterful skill in both arenas. He was a voracious reader and subscribed to Field and Stream and Sports Afield with the little spare change he could muster. He built a cabin room in his basement to display his mule deer and elk racks from western hunts with his son. Many a winter night I lounged in that plank-walled room with him and grandma as a fire blazed behind a stone hearth, reading his magazine back-issues as he snickered at Patrick F. McManus tales.
Unaware at the time, those nights spent in the cabin room lit a literary spark while my overall upbringing set my compass for a lifetime of fish and game pursuits. I made the decision in my single-digit years to work in natural resources and began a fish and wildlife career at age 18. My college years brought writing into my life as a connection to my Appalachian home, but more importantly, tightening a natural bond to our ecosystem and the fish and game I pursue.
At present, my passions have evolved from whitetail deer to upland birds and pointing dogs, and from bass to trout on the fly. I serve the public as a federal fish and wildlife biologist working Endangered Species Act compliance and habitat restoration. At home I work a small homestead with my wife Ali and a pack of Llewellin setters that love nothing more than to run big on the prairie in search of a cackling rooster or whirring covey of valley quail.
Spare time is devoted to upland bird habitat projects at home, and serving Pheasants Forever as a life member and Chair of the Advisory Board, Secretary, and Public Relations Officer for the Blue Mountain Chapter #258. And, of course, I pursue my hunting, fishing and writing passions. The crisp air and saccharine aroma of autumn are calling.
Connect with Brad on Instagram @tailfeathers_upland and at www.bradtrumbo.com.