Living the Dream

Mike Giles credits SEOPA with much of his success as he celebrates a 25-year career in outdoors communications


Where has the time gone? A little over 25 years ago I’d just won my third “money” bass tournament in a row when regional publisher Jerry Strader asked me to write something about bass fishing. Strader was a tournament angler as well and he was from Texas. I didn’t know him, only that he was the editor and publisher of many newspapers at the time and he knew me from winning the tournaments he entered.


I did write about the slot limit’s effect on the bass at Okatibbee Lake and one other article. A month later he called and told me that he’d pay me if I kept writing. That was like feeding a baby ice cream. I could fish and hunt in daylight hours and write at night. A short time later David Hawkins invited me to join SEOPA. I didn’t know what SEOPA was, but he said it was a good opportunity to meet other outdoor media as well as editors and other communicators.


Now, I’ll be the first to tell you that I don’t consider myself a writer, especially not in the caliber of Keith Sutton, Jim Spencer, Jim Casada, or David Hawkins. I grew up hunting and fishing for everything that swam, crawled, walked or flew in Mississippi and Alabama and I was pretty good at that. We had to be because if we ate meat or fish we killed it or caught it.


Now, I’m not saying that to brag, but to let you know that there is a place in SEOPA for everybody. I never knew you could get paid to write about the outdoors and didn’t pick up a pen for 12 years after finishing college. I’m just a sportsman, hunter and angler who writes and takes photographs, I have been able to make many connections through SEOPA, thanks to David Hawkins’ invitation. I met Bob Borgwat, of Game and Fish Publications at our conference in Greenville, Miss., in 1995 and started writing for him some too.


From there it has gradually progressed to the point where I represent Bass Pro Shops and get paid to speak at outdoor events where I talk turkey with my natural voice while clucking, yelping, gobbling and owl hooting a bit. Throw in a little trick casting, a few seminars and a few book projects and I’m one busy man.


Most people in these parts think all I do is hunt and fish and write about it- and that’s okay. I just wanted to say thanks to my fellow board members and to SEOPA because without that invitation to SEOPA I would never have been able to meet so many good people and further my outdoors pursuits. Not everybody gets to fish and hunt and get paid to write about it, take pictures, tell stories, guide people and have a great time in God’s Creation but I have been able to and am truly blessed.


Thanks, my friends. I appreciate you and every opportunity SEOPA has provided me.


Imagine the possibilities and we can all make a difference!


Michael O. Giles