It was like an episode of Mutual of Omahas "Wild Kingdom".
Two beautiful red wolves ran and played in a meadow for more than half an hour as my father, Chester Moore, Sr., friend Chris Villadsen and I watched from across a canal.
We were fishing for alligator gar and, to be honest, I have no idea if we caught any that day. After all that was 1991.
I will, however, never forget the sighting and the path it revealed.
Wolves were already important to me due to several encounters as a youngster but I was 17 years old and considering a career in writing. Communicating via the written word came natural and writing about wildlife seemed even more intriguing now.
I wrote a letter to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) reporting the sighting and expressing amazement that an animal declared extinct in 1980 was alive and well in front of me a decade later.
A very kind biologist named Lee Ann Linam wrote a detailed letter describing that status of red wolves and said the animals I saw were most likely hybrids between wolves and coyotes. She did not belittle me or dispute the sighting but gave me a bit of education that fueled what has become a lifelong pursuit of wolves. Current research shows we may have both been right but that is for another column.
This is the first-ever published photo by Chester Moore, Jr. It appeared with his first ever article in Oct. 1992. Photo Chester Moore
A year later, I entered an essay contest on hunting sponsored by TPWD and won a lifetime combo license and got to take part in the first ever Wildlife Expo banquet in Austin. There I met my now good friend Ted Nugent for the first time and was presented my award by hall of fame pitcher Nolan Ryan. For an Astros fan that was mind-blowing!
The next week I set up a meeting with the editor of the Orange Leader newspaper and asked if it might be possible to write a column. A deal was made to write for their weekly called The Opportunity Valley News and a week later in Oct. 1992, my first published article hit newsstands.
The subject? Wolves of course.
Since then, I have published more than 5,000 articles, 10,000 photographs, numerous books and done something like 800 radio broadcasts. On top of that, I have given hundreds of lectures and traveled the world in pursuit of fish and game. It has been a monumental blessing I thank the Lord for every day.
My passion for flounder fishing has often been at the forefront and helped lead to changes in the fishery and an extremely positive enthusiasm for flounder conservation in our great state.
The author in Aug. 2012 with "Anna" a beautiful and friendly gray wolf pup. Photo Chester Moore
Much of this has been possible due to the support and belief of TF&Gs Roy and Ardia Neves and my cohort in all things editorial Don Zaidle. TF&G has been a career highlight and I feel honored to be part of the team.
Just before column deadline, I found myself again amongst wolves.
As I held a friendly 15-week-old gray wolf cub, memories from early wolf encounters came rushing back. From mournful howls to the sighting described above to game camera photos, the journey had perpetual forward motion.
Interaction with wildlife has always been the primary goal and although this beautiful pup was not wild but an ambassador animal at Exotic Animal Park and Snake Farm in New Braunfels, the experience was no less motivating.
Growing up one of my greatest fears was losing enthusiasm for life and as so many adults tend to do. The feelings I had during this and other amazing wildlife encounters this year shows my enthusiasm has not only remained but also actually increased.
In addition, interest in our articles and videos on wildlife has increased as well. It seems as if the further asphalt and concrete expand, the more people want to know about the creatures that dwell beyond the pavement.
That is why beginning this column will henceforth be called "Chesters Wild Life".
It will feature in-depth information about the animals we hunt, fish for and photograph in Texas and beyond. And it will chronicle the many wild and sometimes crazy situations I find myself in capturing photos and videos on behalf of this publication.
The author with a bunch of flounder he and his father caught and donated to Sea Center Texas for broodstock. Photo Chester Moore
My commentary on all things fishing and hunting will be exclusive to the Chesters Notes blog at fishgame.com, which is updated three times weekly. I will also continue my "how-to" fishing blog called Real World Angler, which is updated Tuesdays and Thursdays along with myriad feature stories in the magazine.
Wildlife is what drives me to move forward in this business and as the 20th anniversary of my career arrives, it is with nearly unnatural levels of excitement I begin this new chapter with TF&G.
In addition, "Gods Outdoors with Chester Moore" has been launched. It is a cutting edge faith-based WebTV program that brings together my three greatest passions: Christ, Children and Wildlife. The pilot debuts Oct. 1 at www.Godsoutdoors.com.
There are many exciting things on the horizon and we at TF&G are excited to still be viable and bringing new and exciting things to you not only every month in the magazine but every day through our website and newsletter.
Henry David Thoreau wrote that, "In wildness is the preservation of the world."
I quoted that in the essay that kick-started my career and 20 years later it is just as relevant.
Without it, we would have no deer to hunt, crappie to catch or coyotes to hear yipping away in the distance. Wildness has come to TF&G at an entirely new level.
Read it here monthly and follow me through a lifelong journey to the wild side.