Bill Cooper is the best sportsman I know. Not because he’s an astute woodsman, or because he’s a widely recognized outdoor communicator. Though, he certainly is both of those. Cooper is a Hall of Famer in my book because he is one of the kindest and most generous people you’ll ever meet. He’s a guy you always want around your campfire.

I first met Bill at a Missouri Outdoor Communicators convention. His enthusiasm and passion for the outdoors, especially fishing, was immediately evident. As I grew to know him as a mentor and friend, I learned people around the world have felt Copper’s influence. He’s dedicated much of his life to entertaining and educating individuals through his media outlets, which included radio, television, over 1,500 published magazine and newspaper articles, and now social media. His popular “Outside Again Adventures TV-Online” is proof you can teach old dogs new tricks.

Cooper is a longtime advocate for youth involvement in the outdoors. He’s the kind of guy who teaches fishing seminars for parks and recreation departments and conservation organizations, like the Conservation Federation of Missouri and the National Wild Turkey Federation, but still finds time to take a neighbor kid fishing. He’s done incredibly cool things too, like serving as a tourism consultant for the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico where he leads hunters on jungle expeditions for ocellated turkey and on the Gulf for tarpon and bonefish.

I was fortunate to accompany Cooper to the Yucatan once. It was the greatest trip I’ve ever taken. Cooper comes alive during an adventure. He exposed my wife and I to multiple cities, ruin cites and natural resources as if he had lived there his entire life. He had an air about him. It’s like he belonged. One evening, sitting in a little café on plaza next to a nearly 500-year old church, I studied Cooper for a brief moment. He was dressed in local attire, wearing a sharp dress hat and smoking big, local rolled cigar. Grey whiskers and squinted eyes highlighted a face lit up by life. I could see Cooper has followed a path of fulfillment, and I’ve recognized his hope of teaching others to do the same.

Cooper has demonstrated a deep commitment to the values, traditions and enjoyments of fishing for over five decades and he’s not slowing down. He’s still cranking out media, and serves as a member of the board of directors for The Land Learning Foundation, an organization dedicated to teaching children outdoor skills, including fishing, through hands on activities and camps.

Having fished for a wide variety of species, both fresh and salt water around much of the globe, Cooper understands the value of fish and fisheries, both as a source of food for the world and a source of unequalled global recreation. Therefore, he promotes conservation and the wise use of our resources at every opportunity.

The Hall of fame is far from Cooper’s first honor. In fact, he recently received Resolution No. 1360 on the floor of the Missouri House of Representatives in honor of his lifetime of contributions to the promotion of fishing, outdoor recreation, outdoor ethics and tourism in Missouri through his 45-years of continuous media efforts, which have both educated and entertained countless people.

Bill Cooper deserves this inclusion into the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame as much as anyone could. I know he is honored by the recognition, yet as always has maintained his humble nature. Cooper’s formal induction ceremony will take place March 9, 2018 at the Conservation Federation of Missouri’s annual convention. It will be my honor to hand him his plaque.

So, Señor Doctor Lieutenant Cooper Sir, as our friends from below the border like to call him, congratulations. You earned it.

See you down the trail…