Who would have thought living out your dreams could be through the pages of
For John Thames, that dream is spending time outdoors, passing time with a birddog, baiting a hook, or admiring a swift covey rise, above the sunrise. Thames, a 1996 Harbert College management graduate, developed his love for the outdoors hunting and fishing with his father and grandfather. As publisher of Covey Rise magazine, which encompasses the world of the great outdoors and wingshooting pursuits, Thames gets to share his passion with thousands of readers across
What’s inside Covey Rise? “From cover to cover, you will find everything that makes the upland sport (bird-hunting) and the lifestyle so appealing,” Thames says. “Covey Rise covers all facets of the upland experience, both on and off the hunt, what our readers do before and after the hunt, what they enjoy, and what they are passionate about.”
Inside, readers will find full spreads of images and scenes of hunting landscapes and spotlights of the newest and best hunting gear and products. “Then we take them on a journey from one end of the earth to the other – from visiting quail lodges in the Southeast, to hunting pheasant in the South Dakota prairies, to chasing chukar through rugged mountain terrain in Oregon, to the private estates on the grouse moors of England,” Thames added. “Then there are dogs – the glue that holds us all together. We discuss the breeds, the dog training, and the trainers.”
Readers are taken into the studios of the best sporting artists and factories of craftsmen, who produce the best the market has to offer, from shotguns to tailored tweeds.
“We talk about the personalities of today and yesterday, who share our passion for time in the field chasing upland birds,” Thames added. “As we wind out the back, we entice you to grab a cigar, hear the latest on bourbon, and read the current issues in conservation – the backbone of our sport. Then we close out the upland experience with a great hunting tale that never fails to make you laugh.”
Mix in what readers describe as vivid photography and excellent writing, “and you have Covey Rise.”
But the evolution of Covey Rise didn’t come without challenges. Thames, who spent much of his professional career in the contracting business, purchased the newsprint version in 2012 and converted it to a perfect-bound magazine. “When I purchased the newsprint version of Covey Rise, the media industry was being uprooted,” he says. “Digital platforms were exploding. Critics and experts all says that ‘print is dead.’ Many well-known companies were moving away from their printed titles and launching online versions.”
Contrary to popular opinion, Thames believes print is not dead. Surviving and thriving, according to Thames, depends on providing a quality product with quality content, being different, and creating an experience rather than simply providing ink on paper.
“The first attribute was paper,” he says. “We selected a paper weight that was well-above the standard magazine paper. I wanted the tactile experience to look and feel like a coffee table book. The other major decision was the ad-to-edit ratio. I believe fractional advertisements interrupt the reading experience, therefore Covey Rise only offers full-page ads, with that number being well below the average number in other magazines.
“You will notice now, after a few years have passed from the fuss of digital being the future—which it still is in many ways—print isn’t going anywhere for those making quality experiences and delivering them to your doorstep every month. There will always be an audience for that.”
Years ago, Thames didn’t envision himself as a magazine publisher. Instead, he saw himself in sales, meeting new people and hearing their stories. “Come to think of it, I am doing exactly what I wanted to do—it just has a magazine wrapped up in it.”
Thames’ advice to young and older professionals is simple: “Follow your dreams.”
“Covey Rise wouldn’t exist without passion,” he says. “It is our very core. Passion fuels the legacy of our sport, and our staff is passionate about creating a worthwhile product for our readers. We found that doing something that you enjoy—that is also your livelihood—really is the ticket. Don’t be afraid to jump off in to the world of the unknown. Life is short. Don’t waste your time on something that you do not enjoy, especially when it takes up your energy from 9-to-5. If your career is not challenging you or not helping you fulfill your dreams, don’t wait around for your golden parachute. Just take a leap of faith.”