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Looking back at 33 years of Oregon Outdoors

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“Chili,” a Harris hawk owned by master falconer Ron Richter, of Klamath Falls, returns to his owner while hunting rabbits near Klamath Falls. [Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune]
A steelhead leaps out of Steamboat Creek near the North Umpqua. [Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune]
Southern Oregon University Student Leland Fulton attempts to climb back into a raft while getting surfed in the largest class V rapid on the Illinois River, called the “Green Wall.” Fulton was pulled back into the raft by Scott Rian and avoided a potentially dangerous swim through the remaining rapid. [Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune]
Dianne Green kayaks at Emigrant Lake. [Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune]
A fledgling northern spotted owl grasps a mouse used by wildlife biologist Dave Roeloffs in an attempt to lure the owl to the ground for banding. [Jamie Lusch/ Mail Tribune]
Nike, a Labrador retriever, jumps into a pond at Denman Wildlife Refuge while training with his owner, Paul Fosterbe, for the 30th annual Nestle Purina Outstanding Retriever Awards Banquet. [Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune]
Devon Stephenson, owner of Rapid Pleasure Rentals, takes a spill while paddleboarding on the Rogue River near Shady Cove. [Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune]
Digital version promises more in-depth reader experience

In summer 2009, new Mail Tribune photographer Jamie Lusch and I fell into a newfangled project that, at first blush, looked like little more than an extra day of fun on the Rogue River each week.

Armed with a small video camera and a microphone on a 7-foot cord, we would chronicle how to float and fish the upper Rogue River in weekly videos to be posted on the Mail Tribune website.

The series drew praise from river-runners looking for help navigating a new stretch of water but wrinkled the foreheads of editors wondering why two staffers would blow a day and not get anything for the newspaper.

Little did we know, this was our future.

Today marks the last print edition of the Mail Tribune after 134 years of staining readers’ fingers in various forms here, and the print version of Oregon Outdoors will die with it.

But the online version of Oregon Outdoors will live and grow to serve our longtime and new readers and viewers far better than the print version ever did.

Take, for instance, the main piece that each week anchored the Oregon Outdoors section.

Typically, that anchor piece would be one main story and photo. The web format allows for the story and main photo to be accompanied by a video, photo gallery and links to past articles and videos that add breadth to each subject to the extent you want.

So, for us, the days of getting that one acrobatic steelhead jump for the story, then closing the camera bag and opening the cooler are long gone.

It means a lot more work on our end, but a lot more enjoyment on readers’ and viewers’ ends. We’re happy to make that trade.

Still, it’s hard not to look back on more than 33 years of the Oregon Outdoors print brand that won state, regional and national awards for writing and photography seemingly unmatched by any other outdoors section in the Pacific Northwest.

It was even once judged best in the nation by the Outdoor Writers Association of America.

Lusch’s great eye for the outdoors always caused readers to stop, take notice and read my piece.

But few realize a photo must be perfectly in focus to translate into the newsprint world.

A ferris hawk lands on its handler’s arm, and its eyes have to appear to peer into your brain. Capturing a jumping steelhead at its apex is to know the camera and to know the fish.

Stopping the action of a paddler while blurring the paddles is an art in and of itself, let alone capturing it so tightly that it looks good on the oldest medium since stone tablets — newsprint.

Today, print viewers get to see five of these photos. Online viewers also get the 47-image photo gallery just by clicking a link in the article.

Likewise, what readers also never saw were the hundreds of very good shots not print-worthy but stunning in smaller files viewed in the much more photo-friendly online medium.

Sunsetting the print version is painful within the Mail Tribune inner circle, as well as for those whose morning rituals included us.

We are losing treasured co-workers in printing and distribution, forced to move on in their careers at a time that wasn’t their choosing.

You’re losing a part of your morning tradition.

So this is a terribly somber day all around. But in a way, we all knew this was coming.

I’ve seen this day coming for decades, but I never knew exactly where it was going. Newsprint is a finite resource that turned from standard bubbly to overpriced Dom Perignon thanks to pulp shortages, lost suppliers and tariffs.

Technology inevitably would change the media’s main medium, but the medium is always less important than the message.

Whether it’s on newsprint, on your iPad screen, a 3D image in your glasses or a hologram in your brain, some bozos have to generate the interesting and compelling stories, photos and videos to make those holograms worth viewing and reading.

And those bozos might as well be us, just like we were in that noble video experiment of 2009.

At the new Oregon Outdoors, we will still do what we do best. You’ll get far more of it than in the printed version, and you won’t have to wash your hands when you’re done.

Reach Mail Tribune outdoors writer Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or email him at mfreeman@rosebudmedia.com.

Racers compete during the " Much Ado About Rowing " event at Emigrant Lake Sunday.Mail Tribune Photo / Jamie Lusch
Geoff Houghton rides along the ridge of the proposed Siskiyou Crest national monument Wednesday.Mail Tribune Photo / Jamie Lusch
An adult Northern Spotted Owl dives for a mouse used by Wildlife Biologist Dave Roeloffs during a survey about 12 air miles from Butte Falls.Mail Tribune Photo / Jamie Lusch
A Harris Hawk hunts for jack rabbits and Cotton tails near Klamath Falls.Mail Tribune photo / Jamie Lusch
Fishing guide Charlie Brown helps client Carl Treseder land a winter steelhead below TouVelle State Park on the Rogue River Friday.Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch
A robot dummy takes flight at the Mount Ashland ski resort Saturday.Mail Tribune Photo / Jamie Lusch
Members of WaterWatch work to free a driftboat Saturday that was part of a flotilla organized by the group to celebrate removal of Savage Rapids Dam. The boat, piloted by Otis Swisher of Medford, foundered after it wrapped on a log at the lower end of Savage Rapids. Swisher was not injured.Mail Tribune Photo / Jamie Lusch
Mike St. John packs up his equipment after a day of ice fishing on Fish Lake.Mail Tribune Photo / Jamie Lusch
Steve Crisler, 24, of Medford, behind, Brady Rogers, 36, of Talent and Michael Gentry, 25, battle a spring chinook salmon below Gold Ray Dam on the Rogue River Friday.Mail Tribune Photo / Jamie Lusch
Great blue herons occupy nests along the Rogue River near Tou Velle State Park Thursday. More than 20 pairs of herons nest in the heronry each spring.Mail Tribune Photo / Jamie Lusch
David Chambers, 22, works on route at the Green springs climbing area.Mail Tribune photo / Jamie Lusch
Curtis Westberg and James Llanos of Medford catch some air.
Frank Castro, left, and Del Baumbach, land a chinook trolling with anchovies off the Brookings Harbor Wednesday.Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch
Momentum raft guide Arden Prehn guides Jim Kleckner, Denise Kleckner and Jennifer Kleckner down Nugget Rapids on the Rogue River near Gold Hill Friday.Mail Tribune Photo / Jamie Lusch
Fishing Guide Brian Wager, left, Angelo Scaramastra and Jim Luzzi watch as a wild steelhead breaks water after being hooked near Hell Gate Canyon on the Rogue River Saturday.Mail Tribune Photo / Jamie Lusch
Jeff Sebastian, of Roseburg, watches his son Gavin Weaver, 23, battle a rainbow trout while ice fishing at Diamond Lake Sunday. The pair landed their limit in a couple of hours of fishing.Mail Tribune Photo / Jamie Lusch
A rainbow trout thrashes after falling for a ball of Chartreuse Powerbait at Diamond Lake Friday.Mail Tribune Photo / Jamie Lusch
Erynn Apadoca, 9, of Idaho Falls throws a rock at a 60 acre fire burning on the north side of Lost Creek Lake Wednesday.Mail Tribune Photo / Jamie Lusch
Rafters float above Grave Creek through the smoke filled canyon on the Rogue River Tuesday.Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch
A raft flips while competing in the second annual King of the Rogue races Saturday on the Rogue River near Gold Hill. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch
Lakota Vaughan shows of his skills on a Flyboard at Emigrant Lake. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch
Amanda Barron demonstrates yoga positions on Lower Table Rock on Wednesday. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch
Rafters with Noah's River Adventures cool off at Nugget Falls on the Rogue River near Gold Hill on Tuesday. [Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch]
Howard Prairie now sports 3 strains of rainbow trout and state fish biologist are monitoring catch rates to see which one fare here. [Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch]
Fall color is in full swing at Litha Park in Ashland. [Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch]
Nick Rodger, uses his horses, Brook and Jody, to remove downed hazard trees from Howard Prairie Resort camp ground on Wednesday. [Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch]
Jamie Lusch / Mail TribuneA chinook salmon works its way up a waterfall on Bear Creek near the Rogue Valley Mall on Thursday.
Southern Oregon University Student Leland Fulton attempts to climb back into a raft while getting surfed in the largest class V rapid on the Illinois river called the "Green Wall". Fulton was pulled back into the raft by Scott Rian and avoided a potentially dangerous swim through the remaining class V.Mail Tribune Photo / Jamie Lusch
Tunnel 13 near the top of the Oregon Siskiyou Pass has been expanded to handle larger freight train cars, Thursday Oct.15, 20015. (AP)(Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch)
Liam Lusch jumos from a log at Union Creek. Photo by Jamie Lusch