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Hope Carleton, host of Kentucky Afield television program for 23 years, dead at 89

Former Kentucky Afield television host Hope Carleton Sr. died Thursday at his home in western Kentucky. He was 89 years old. Carleton appeared on the show for 23 years, serving longer than any other host.

“He was a consummate, gentleman sportsman,” said Norm Minch, assistant director of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources’ Information and Education Division.

Hope Carleton appeared as a guest on Kentucky Afield with Tim Farmer in 2008 (Photo from YouTube)

Hope Carleton appeared as a guest on Kentucky Afield with Tim Farmer in 2008 (Photo from YouTube)

“If the subject was anything related to the outdoors, he was exceptionally knowledgeable, but I particularly recall how his eyes literally would light up when he talked about it,” Minch said. “It was indisputable that he cared greatly about our resources and improving opportunities for people to enjoy them – you could just see it and hear it each time he talked about it. It was an attitude that I wanted to model. He was the real deal. He was in love with the outdoors.”

Carleton started his career with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources as a conservation officer in Fayette County in 1947. His broadcasting career began when the president of a local radio station asked him to do a half hour show about hunting and fishing in the area.

In 1957, Carleton left law enforcement to replace Ron Rhody as the host of Kentucky Afield television. Carleton, who said he felt insecure in front of the camera, served as host until his retirement in 1980. “I had a ball – I enjoyed it,” he said during a 2008 segment on Kentucky Afield television.

Carleton was among a group of department employees who helped establish the striped bass fishery in Kentucky. In the 1950s, officials in South Carolina allowed this group to keep all the stripers they could catch on fishing poles – as long as they bought non-resident licenses first.

“In a 24-hour period, we caught 1,005,” Carleton said in a 2008 interview. “We sent both (hatchery) trucks back to Kentucky loaded.”

Kentucky began its striped bass stocking program in 1957.

Current Kentucky Afield host Tim Farmer knew Carleton as a true outdoorsman.

“Hope lived for the outdoors until the last day of his life. He duck hunted, fished and enjoyed every aspect of the outdoors,” Farmer said. “He spent the last years of his live in western Kentucky, where he could pursue his outdoor lifestyle. He lived and breathed it until the end. He will be remembered by Kentucky sportsmen and sportswomen forever.”

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Tim Slone, director of the department’s Information and Education Division, said Carleton was planning to celebrate his 90th birthday next week. He stayed active until the end.

“Hope still rose early every morning and rarely missed a day in the duck blind,” Slone said. “This last duck season, he hunted 57 out of 60 days. Those of us who were lucky enough to know Hope will miss his wit and wisdom.”

From F&W Communications

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