Three stories from the Duluth News Tribune's outdoors section from 2019 have won national honors in the 2020 Excellence in Craft Contest sponsored by the Outdoor Writers Association of America.

Outdoor reporter John Myers won first place in the Newspaper category “Hunting or Shooting Sports” for the story “Down On the Deer Farm, Chronic Wasting Disease Is Critical Issue,” which appeared in the Dec. 1 News Tribune. The story was an in-depth look at chronic wasting disease, a local deer farm, local hunters, local government officials and wildlife managers all seeking to control the deadly wildlife disease spreading across the nation. News Tribune photographer Steve Kuchera took photos for the story.

Cade Musch holds a pair of antlers shed by one of trophy bucks at Long Lake Outfitters. Genetics, nutrition and age determine how large a buck’s antlers grow. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)
Cade Musch holds a pair of antlers shed by one of trophy bucks at Long Lake Outfitters. Genetics, nutrition and age determine how large a buck’s antlers grow. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

Myers also won first place in the Newspaper category “Conservation or Nature” for the story “Hunting for Answers in Forest Bird Decline,” which published in the June 8, 2019, News Tribune. The story chronicled the efforts of conservation groups and University of Minnesota Duluth scientists to track forest birds that are experiencing population declines, including the efforts of field researcher Debi Petersen, who uses her trained hunting dogs to find tiny woodcock chicks to fit with radio transmitters. News Tribune photographer Tyler Schank took photos for the story.

Debbie Petersen holds a woodcock chick out for her dog Riley to sniff after finding a nest in Itasca County.  News Tribune outdoors writer John Myers won a first place award from the OWAA for the June, 2019 story on how Petersen and Riley are helping researchers track woodcock chicks, part of an inventory of declining forest birds.
Debbie Petersen holds a woodcock chick out for her dog Riley to sniff after finding a nest in Itasca County. News Tribune outdoors writer John Myers won a first place award from the OWAA for the June, 2019 story on how Petersen and Riley are helping researchers track woodcock chicks, part of an inventory of declining forest birds.Tyler Schank / Forum News Service

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Myers also won second place in the Newspaper category “Conservation or Nature” for the story “The Secret Summer Lives of Wolves,” which appeared in the Aug. 11 News Tribune. The story chronicles the fascinating research by the Voyageurs Wolf Project which, in just a few years, have documented multiple wolf behaviors new to wildlife science. News Tribune photographer Steve Kuchera took photos for the story.

Voyageurs Wolf Project researchers Austin Homkes (left) and Tom Gable examine an area along the Moose River where a wolf killed a beaver. Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com
Voyageurs Wolf Project researchers Austin Homkes (left) and Tom Gable examine an area along the Moose River where a wolf killed a beaver. Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com

This is the first time in two decades that the News Tribune submitted entries to the OWAA contest. The association formally announced contest winners this weekend as it held its annual national conference virtually.

Myers has been reporting for the News Tribune since 1986. He has also covered state government and politics, environment and natural resources, county government, mining and other issues.

The Outdoor Writers Association of America has about 800 members across the U.S. and Canada — namely outdoor writers, photographers, videographers and communicators. Its mission is to improve the professional skills of its members, set the highest ethical and communications standards, encourage public enjoyment and conservation of natural resources and be mentors for the next generation of professional outdoor communicators.