Bob Hirsch, an iconic figure whose love for the Arizona outdoors helped bring it into the living room through various media outlets, died Friday. He was 79.
Hirsch, a freelance outdoors writer for about 30 years for The Phoenix Gazette and The Arizona Republic, also was the host of a television and radio show geared toward the outdoors.
“He was Mr. Outdoor Arizona,” son Steve Hirsch said. “He was pretty much the outdoor mouthpiece for Arizona. More than any single person, he led the way to educate the transient population without roots here in Arizona about the Arizona outdoors.
“The big part of what he was about was reaching out to people of all walks of life to try and get them to recreate even if they weren’t a hunter or trophy fishermen. He wasn’t all about hunting and fishing. He would talk to Rotary clubs and just everyone about conservation, camping and outdoors recreation.”
Hirsch, who Steve said suffered from a series of recent ministrokes that ultimately led to his death, graduated from Phoenix Union High School in 1945 and in the mid-1960s became a public information officer for the Arizona Game & Fish Department.
In the 1970s, Hirsch turned to freelancing for numerous media outlets. He was twice recognized as the outdoor writer of the year by Game & Fish.
“Bob Hirsch was truly a giant among Arizona outdoor writers,” said Duane Shroufe, director of Arizona Game & Fish for more than 20 years. “He introduced generations of people to the enjoyment of fishing, hunting and other outdoor recreation, and he was a strong advocate for our state’s wildlife and wildlife conservation.”
Steve Hirsch, a lawyer who also is the president of the Wildlife for Tomorrow Foundation, described his father as a jack of all trades.
“He was published in a lot of national publications like Field & Stream and Outdoor Life. He was on TV and on the radio, always talking about the outdoors. He also was one of the founders of the Arizona chapter of Anglers United, which is a fish habitat and protective fishery organization.”
Hirsch was inducted into the Arizona Outdoor Hall of Fame in 1999.
“Bob certainly was the dean of Arizona outdoor writers,” said DeWayne Smith, former outdoors editor for The Gazette. “The main thing about Bob is, he made the outdoors available to people through his writing, his TV and radio shows. He gave them information in how to use the outdoors in a friendly, family-style manner.
“He was the go-to guy about the Arizona outdoors. He wasn’t only a hunter and fisherman. He appreciated and wrote about all facets of the outdoor experience from boating and hiking to camping and wildflower viewing.
“Bob has been the voice and personality of Arizona outdoors forever,” said Hays Gilstrap, a former member of the Arizona Game & Fish Commission. “He brought to light the beauty and the opportunity of appreciating wildlife and of conserving wildlife.”
Hirsch is survived by his wife, Mary; five children; nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Funeral arrangements are pending.