Skip to main content

Longtime Voice of Texas Outdoorsmen, Ray Sasser, Dies at 69

Longtime Voice of Texas Outdoorsmen, Ray Sasser, Dies at 69
Ray Sasser (left) and legendary oilman T. Boone Pickens (right) are shown at a Park Cities Quail event several years ago. (Photo courtesy of Park Cities Quail)

ray sasser
Ray Sasser (left) and legendary oilman T. Boone Pickens (right) are shown at a Park Cities Quail event several years ago. (Photo courtesy of Park Cities Quail)

Described as the dean of Texas outdoors writers, longtime Dallas Morning News staffer Ray Sasser is remembered by a generation of Texans who were delighted twice weekly by his words about the state's great outdoors. 

As a longtime resident of Texas, it isn't unusual to get a news tidbit from Steve Lightfoot, the veteran Texas Parks and Wildlife Department communications guru.

But this time, instead of exciting talk of a massive whitetail or a double-digit largemouth, the news was somber and sad.


"The dean of Texas outdoor writers, Ray Sasser, passed away last night. RIP my friend," wrote Lightfoot in a Feb. 22, 2018 social media post.


Lightfoot's post confirmed that the 69-year-old Sasser, the longtime outdoors writer for the Dallas Morning News and a 2016 inductee into the Texas Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame, had succumbed to a long and arduous battle with lymphoma.




News reports indicate that he is survived by his wife of 48-years, Emilie; his son Zachary; his daughter Emily Misslin and her husband Dylan; and two grandchildren, Lilly and Levi.

When news of Sasser's passing began to trickle through the outdoors world, the outpouring of admiration and grief for the Meridian, Texas, resident was quick.

Consider this statement from well-known Oklahoma oilman and billionaire T. Boone Pickens:


  • "Ray Sasser was not just one of the greatest outdoor writers in Texas, he was one of the most respected outdoor writers in the country. His success and following were rooted in the fact he didn't just cover the outdoors, he loved all that it meant to hunters, fishermen and conservation as a whole. To me he was much more than a talented writer who cared about the outdoors, he was a good friend who I will miss. We should all have such a passion for life and our chosen professions."

There was also a stirring tribute from Dr. James Kroll, professor emeritus of Forest Wildlife Management at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, a longtime Outdoor Sportsman Group TV co-host and magazine contributor for North American Whitetail, a deer hunting expert known to millions around the country as "Dr. Deer" thanks to a story that Sasser once wrote.

  • "We had so many fine days afield and I shall miss him!" Kroll wrote on his "Dr. Deer" Facebook page. "He was a scholar and a word smith. He once wrote an article about a bird hunt we had, he opened with this phrase: 'The German shorthair was locked tighter than the lug nuts on a junk yard Chevrolet!' The world will never again enjoy such prose."

There was also a tribute from Gordon Whittington, longtime editor of North American Whitetail:

  • "RIP to one of the guys who put Texas deer hunting on the map from a national perspective."

A voice for a generation of Texas outdoorsmen, Sasser grew up in the Pineywoods of East Texas, eventually attending Stephen F. Austin. While a Lumberjack at SFASU, Sasser began his outdoor writing career at the Lufkin Daily News, followed by a stint as the full-time outdoor writer for the Port Arthur News.

Eventually, he found his way to the vast Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, going to work for the now defunct Dallas Times Herald in 1983, followed by a move to the Dallas Morning News in 1986.

When the move to the Metroplex happened, the vast state of Texas became Sasser's wordsmithing canvas, one that he painted for more than 34-years with a column on Thursday and a full-page spread of stories on Sunday.

Along the way, he wrote countless newspaper stories, numerous magazine articles, and 11 books. The latter included a Collector's Covey published volume of Texas deer hunting essays, View from a Tower Blind, along with a series of coffee table books filled with Sasser's prose on Texas game animals along with stunning images by official Texas state photographer Wyman Meinzer.

In those writings, Sasser penned some remarkable words including the following:

"A deer camp ought to be at the end of a road. It shouldn't be a paved road, either. It ought to be of dirt or rock - the sort that discourages ordinary traffic." — View from a Tower Blind

"The excitement crackles before dawn, when you pull up to a dove field and try to pick a spot where you'll be hidden by a shade tree, or, at least, a row of sunflowers. You're setting up the gear as the stars dim and the gray light in the east brightens to a Technicolor dawn. The whistle of wings and the streamlined silhouettes of mourning doves, dropping through the sky on backswept wings, tells you that you've chosen a good spot. It's still five minutes until legal shooting time, so you relax and enjoy the incomparable show. The silhouettes are coming with increased regularity. Time to load up and relearn the lessons of dove shooting." — Opening Day of Dove Season Is About More Than Just the Hunt

"The best euphemism to describe killing a deer is "letting the air out of him." Did you ever notice how most of that air escapes from the buck's antlers?" — View from a Tower Blind

"I once asked Murphy Ray, the taciturn co-author of the Texas bible of whitetail management, for the best time to kill a big buck. "I'll take the rut," he said. "You can have everything else." — Decades Chasing After Bucks Easily Yields a Ton of Great Stories

"There is something magic about driving south on the wings of a norther, December looming unstoppable on the horizon, the full moon of whitetail madness hovering in the predawn sky. I just point the Suburban road hog down the asphalt serpent called Interstate 35 and let the big sow eat. I keep my fingers crossed that highway patrolmen are deer hunters, too, and that they understand how Christmas comes early for hunters with the keys to a prime South Texas gate." — View from a Tower Blind

And then there were these words that Sasser once penned in a quail hunting story, starting the Too Perfect to Be Random piece off with a quote from his good friend M.F. "Bubba" Wood, the founder of Collector's Covey and the man who will deliver the eulogy for Sasser at a 3 p.m. memorial service on Monday, March 5, 2018, at the Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas.

"The best proof for the creation theory of intelligent design lies in this irrefutable chain of facts — there is a bobwhite quail, there is a dog that points quail and there is a 20-gauge shotgun. It's too perfect to be random," Sasser quoted his friend as saying.

Sasser finished the story off with his own take on Woods' statement: "What makes a dog point birds when its predatory instinct must dictate that it chase the birds? What makes a bird hold tight to cover when threatened by what must seem like a different-colored coyote?

"You may as well ask why planet Earth is a perfect distance from the sun and rotates on its axis in such a way that spring follows winter. It's too perfect to be random."

And that seems a fitting way to describe Sasser's unique ability to paint memorable word pictures about the Texas outdoors world — it was a writing gift that was too perfect to be random.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ujALABPmWw

From Texas Parks and Wildlife YouTube

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

A Bolt Action from Benelli?

A Bolt Action from Benelli?

We know what you're thinking: Isn't Benelli a shotgun company? Of course it is, but decades of shotgun manufacturing actually put Benelli in a unique position to redefine what a hunting rifle should be. Episode 1 reviews some company history to explain how this all came about.

Hobie MirageDrive 360 Kayak Propulsion: Amazing Control and Power

Hobie MirageDrive 360 Kayak Propulsion: Amazing Control and Power

The Hobie MirageDrive 360 pedal propulsion system is the pinnacle of kayak control with more efficient fin designs, glide technology and allows the boat to be moved in any direction.

New for 2021: Hoyt RX-5, RX-5 Ultra, Ventum 30 and Ventum 33

New for 2021: Hoyt RX-5, RX-5 Ultra, Ventum 30 and Ventum 33

ATA 2021 NeDuring this video from the Archery Trade Association's New Product Premiere showcase, Bowhunter's TV Mike Carney visited with Evan Williams, pro staff manager for Hoyt Archery, to learn about the new RX-5, RX-5 Ultra, Ventum and Ventum 33 bows.w Product - Hoyt

New for 2021: Elite Archery Bows, Slick Trick Broadheads and CBE Sight

New for 2021: Elite Archery Bows, Slick Trick Broadheads and CBE Sight

Learn more about two new Elite Archery bows, the Enkore and Remedy, two new broadhead from Slick Trick and a new site from Custom Bow Equipment (CBE).

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

New for 2021, the 4MM AXIS will offer bowhunters even more of what they want in a micro-diameter arrow.Easton Archery Rolls Out 4MM AXIS Long-Range Arrows Bows

Easton Archery Rolls Out 4MM AXIS Long-Range Arrows

Game and Fish Staff - November 23, 2020

New for 2021, the 4MM AXIS will offer bowhunters even more of what they want in a...

With the Hobie MirageDrive 360 pedal propulsion system, anglers have ultimate kayak control with more efficient fin designs, glide technology and the ability to move their boat in any direction desiredAmazing Kayak Power and Control: Hobie's MirageDrive 360 Propulsion System Other Fishing

Amazing Kayak Power and Control: Hobie's MirageDrive 360 Propulsion System

OSG Editorial Staff - November 01, 2020

With the Hobie MirageDrive 360 pedal propulsion system, anglers have ultimate kayak control...

More visible arrow flight to your intended target.New Archery Gear: Easton 6.5 Whiteout Carbon Arrows Bows

New Archery Gear: Easton 6.5 Whiteout Carbon Arrows

Game and Fish Staff - December 16, 2020

More visible arrow flight to your intended target.

These affordable designs are big on features, short on cash outlay — ATA Show.New Crossbows Under $600 for 2021 ATA Show

New Crossbows Under $600 for 2021

Lynn Burkhead - January 14, 2021

These affordable designs are big on features, short on cash outlay — ATA Show.

See More Trending Articles

More Walleye

These large Midwestern rivers offer fantastic spring walleye action.Big-River Spring Walleye Hotspots Walleye

Big-River Spring Walleye Hotspots

M.D. Johnson - April 23, 2020

These large Midwestern rivers offer fantastic spring walleye action.

Fishing live bait properly can be the difference between success and a long day on the ice.Go Natural with Live-Bait Presentations on Ice Fishing How-To

Go Natural with Live-Bait Presentations on Ice

Joel Nelson - February 18, 2021

Fishing live bait properly can be the difference between success and a long day on the ice.

Summer Playbook: Action abounds both on and off the water in the Western New York region.Family Fishing Getaway: Niagara Falls, N.Y. Playbook

Family Fishing Getaway: Niagara Falls, N.Y.

Jeff Knapp - July 23, 2020

Summer Playbook: Action abounds both on and off the water in the Western New York region.

Try Rainy River, Lake of the Woods, for a mid-summer dream trip.Summer Family Fishing in Midwest: A Minnesota Mixed Bag Playbook

Summer Family Fishing in Midwest: A Minnesota Mixed Bag

Mike Pehanich - July 27, 2020

Try Rainy River, Lake of the Woods, for a mid-summer dream trip.

See More Walleye

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now