View Full Version : Who are your favorite hunting authors?

January 14, 2005, 10:44 PM
As the snow continues to deepen here I am, to paraphrase the late Sparse Grey Hackle, forced to take a hunting book and bid defiance to the weather in the very best kind of hunting for such a day--reading about it. One author I never tire of is Robert Ruark: his The Old Man and the Boy and The Old Man's Boy Grows Older both wear well, and he always has something to teach (or reteach) me. I'll spend the rest of January and some of February with him in his native North Carolina, then accompany him to Africa in his Horn of the Hunter. That should get me to Spring and turkey season (if I read slowly).

Who, and what, are you reading as the seasons close in your neck of the woods?

Good luck, and good reading!

January 14, 2005, 11:56 PM
I always enjoy Jack o'connor.

Generally,l there's always some good stuff in Grays Sporting Journal (although definately not all of it).

January 15, 2005, 08:49 AM
Agreed. His The Shotgun Book and his Complete Book of Shooting (Rifles, Shotguns, Handguns) are both a part of my library. These are excellent references by a writer with solid hunting credentials.

As the late Gene Hill said of O'Connor in his piece titled "The Outdoor Writers" from his book Passing A Good Time, "I was quickly impressed with the clean and direct style of Jack O'Connor, and later on when I got to know Jack personally, we spent a lot of time on the subject of what good writing was. Jack had been a professor of English and held some strong opinions that I agree with. As the dean of gun writers then, Jack made a point of never writing down to his audience and he had that special ability to leave his reader with the feeling that he had been along with Jack on some adventure and had enjoyed himself immensely."

Are there any "gun writers" of O'Connor's caliber (sorry, couldn't resist the pun) writing today?

Good luck, and good reading!

January 15, 2005, 10:52 AM
Ted Nugent's "God, Guns & Rock and Roll" was a great read.

January 15, 2005, 12:40 PM
While I don't consider him a "great" writer, I always enjoyed the stories from the typewriter (remember those?) of Peter Hathaway Capstick. I got hooked on his stories in the American Hunter and picked up Death in the long grass and Death in the silent places and read them several times.

He wrote of the notable names in African & Indian big game hunting around the turn of the century. Names like Karamojo Bell, Stigand, Jim Corbett, and Col. Henry Patterson stand out as real men whose lives were not based on a notion of "a right to live in safety". Far from it. Capstick's style brought the reader to understand that in Africa and India it took skill, daring and not a little luck to prevail against mother nature. These men not only lived, but they really lived, sometimes on the ragged edge of disaster for many years.

For me, Jim Corbett remains the most interesting character. Not only a hunter, but one of the earliest conservationists, he argued with the Maharaja [sp?] of India to reduce tiger hunts to preserve the tiger for future generations. It was said that Corbett could take one look at a tiger's pug marks and deduce its size, weight, age, sex and bank balance. He was also the man most called upon to hunt down man-eaters, tigers and lepoards, with a proven record of success. Today, in India, Jim Corbett National Park is a tiger sanctuary, giving testimony to his foresight and the respect of the Indian population.

January 15, 2005, 10:53 PM
Confession time :D I must admit that I glanced at my bookshelf, and relized that i also read lots of patrick mcmanus.

As i said hunter trw, take a look through a copy of Gray's sporting journal, and you'll usually find some good stuff.

January 15, 2005, 11:19 PM
The Man-Eaters of Tsavo, by Col. John Patterson.
the account of his confrontation with two African Lions impeding constuction of a railroad bridge, as well as some of his other hunting escapades.
This book was the basis of the movie "The Ghost and The Darkness" with Val Kilmer and Michael Douglas.

January 15, 2005, 11:21 PM
I like McManus's work, too, especially the stories in which his mountain-man character, Rancid Crabtree (one of my literary heros), appears. My absolute favorite is titled The Grasshopper Trap from the book by the same name. Pat is a funny, funny fellow, and reading this one I laughed until I hurt.

January 16, 2005, 02:54 PM
I have read a lot of hunting books, but for me, the finest writers on the genre were Larry Kohler, and Peter Hathaway Capstick.

January 16, 2005, 04:12 PM
Gordon MacQuarrie is another of my favorites. His duck-hunting stories are both educational and entertaining. Originally published as newspaper and magazine articles, they were compiled and edited by Zack Taylor, and published by Willow Creek Press as Stories of the Old Duck Hunters, More Stories of the Old Duck Hunters, and Last Stories of the Old Duck Hunters.

In the story titled, "Ducks? You Bat You!" he recounts his introduction (at the hands of his father-in-law, the President of the Old Duck Hunters Association, Inc.) (the "Inc." stood for "Incorrigible") to duck hunting. At the end of that day he said,

"The President addressed me: 'How'd you like it?'

"In those days I was very young. It took me a long time to say what I felt. I have never succeeded yet. I simply babbled.

"We drove out of the cornfield, stopped to yell good-by to Norm, who came out to his back door to wave, and then headed for the main highway. I drove. Fred reposed in the back, comfortable as the clucking ducks against whose crate he leaned. At my side sat the President. The light from the cowl partly illuminated his strong, sharp features.

"Finally I said: 'Wish you had let me in on this earlier in the season. There won't be another duck week-end after today.'

"The President flicked cigar ashes and replied: 'I thought of that, but deciced to break it to you gently. Too much of a good thing is bad for a growing boy."

MacQuarrie, Mr. President, and the other few members of the ODHA, Inc. are good companions with which to share those cold days when the guns lie locked in the safe.

Lone Star
January 17, 2005, 08:39 PM
I agree re O'Connor, and also greatly respect Jim Corbett, a modest, very courageous man. I've always wondered why he wasn't knighted for his service in killing notorious man-eaters in British India.

John Alexander Hunter had some amazing adventures, too. Look for his, "Hunter" and "Hunter's Tracks".

I knew Capstick slightly and he was just as morbidly funny in person as in his books.

Dr. Roy Chapman Andrews wrote well of his Asian hunting trips for the American Museum of Natural History. Now that museum people and scientists in general are liberal wimps, his name has been reviled, but the guy had guts and a good writing style.

In a literary sense, Andrews and O'Connor were best, although Capstick was probably the wittiest. Corbett was perhaps the most charming and modest, with absolutely vast reserves of courage, patriotism, and kindness toward the Indian people. He richly deserved that Corbett National Park was named for him. And that was done AFTER the British left India, and he had moved to Kenya, where he died in 1955.

Lone Star

January 23, 2005, 10:43 AM
Surprises me that no one has mentioned Russell Annabel. Am I the only one that remembers him? :confused:

January 26, 2005, 12:18 AM
"use enough gun" by robert ruark is a favorite

January 26, 2005, 01:03 AM
Capnrik, yes, I remember Russel Annabel. If I do so correctly, he wrote stories about hunting in the West for Outdoor Life.

Robert Ruark's stories are always good for a cold, rainy day, with plenty of oak to throw on the fire.

Quickdraw Limpsalot
January 26, 2005, 09:29 AM
I'm reading Elmer Keith's "Hell, I Was There!" Great stuff so far.

January 26, 2005, 07:16 PM
I read Richard K. Nelson's "Heart and Blood." It's about deer, not just deer hunting. Fascinating stuff, he's a local to me author and an Anthropologist by training.


January 26, 2005, 07:56 PM
Most of my favorites have already been named but I have to add a few.
The late Ed Zern always left me laughing with his "Exit Laughing" on the last page of Field & Stream.
Field & Stream also published another of my favorites, Corey Ford, with the monthly adventures of the "Lower Forty Club". His tales of "The Road to Tinkhamtown" and "Letter to a Grandson" are truly unforgettable. I don't think a hunter can read those stories without getting a lump in his throat.
I would also recommend any of the many books written by J. Frank Dobie, poet Laureate of Texas: Rattlesnakes, The Coyote, The Ben Lilly Legend, Apache Gold & Yaqui Silver, and more. Mr Dobie passed away in 1964 after passing along hundreds of tales, stories, and outright lies from the 19th & early 20th centuries. His books provide a fascinating insight into the lives of the people who settled this country such as the early hunters, cowboys, ranchers, and sodbusters.
Always time well spent.

January 26, 2005, 08:39 PM
Corey Ford's immortal story of a hunter's decline and eventual death (which, incidently, presaged his own) should be required reading by anyone who aspires to the title "hunter." Consider the story's last four paragraphs:

"And then he heard it, echoing through the woods like peepers in the spring, the thin silvery tinkle of a sleigh bell. He started running toward it, following the sound down the hill. His legs were strong again, and he hurdled the blowdowns, he leapt over fallen logs, he put one fingertip on a pile of slash and sailed over it like a grouse skimming. He was getting nearer and the sound filled his ears, louder than a thousand church bells ringing, louder than all the choirs in the sky, as loud as the pounding of his heardt. The fear was gone; he was not lost. He had the bell to guide him now.

"He came to the stream, and paused for a moment at the bridge. He wanted to tell them he was happy, if only they knew how happy he was, but when he opened his eyes he could not see them anymore. Everything else was bright, but the room was dark.

"The bell had stopped, and he looked across the stream. The other side was bathed in sunshine, and he could see the road mounting steeply, and the clearing in the woods, and the apple tree in a corner of the stone wall. Shad was standing motionless beneath it, the white fan of his tail lifted, his neck craned forward and one foreleg cocked. The whites of his eyes showed as he looked back, waiting for him.

"'Steady,' he called, 'steady, boy.' He started across the bridge. 'I'm coming.'"

Excerpted from The Road to Tinkhamtown by Corey Ford. God bless him!

April 20, 2005, 09:15 AM
I got in on this thread late -- my apologies -- but I have to put in a plug for Havilah Babcock as an author whose works entertained me for countless hours. My Health is Better in November is a classic collection of stories.


April 20, 2005, 09:48 AM
I'll second that motion, and recommend The Best of Babcock edited by Hugh Grey and published in 1974. This volume contains my all-time favorite Babcock story, "Labor Trouble on the Punkin Vine," a delightful tale about a locomotive engineer who was also a passionate bird-hunter. It begins as follows:

"I always had a sneaking suspicion that the custom of hank-holding was devised to give my grandfather somebody to talk to. My captivity gave him a guaranteed audience.

"'Did I ever tell you the one about Cap'n Billy Mahood of the old Punkin Vine?' he once began with a tentative lift of his shaggy eyebrows. 'Cap'n Billy and his bird dog, and them hot-boxes we had one too many of?'"

I'll leave it to you to find the book and to finish the story, and wish that you enjoy it as much as I do.

Good luck, and good shooting!

April 22, 2005, 03:41 AM
My reading tastes tend to the first half of the 20th century, especially pre-WW2. Some favorites I have are; The Wanderings of an Elephant Hunter by W. D. M. Bell, Stalking In The Himalayas And Northern India by Col. C. H. Stockley and A Sportsman's Wanderings by J. G. Millais.

In addition to the hunting and shooting, I often find their observations on other matters in their travels everything from amusing to fascinating. I could easily collect a small library of these old works if I had the money and space.

April 22, 2005, 12:51 PM
I can't believe his name has only come up once. There are a number of his books out there besides his autobiography. They are all a good read.

April 23, 2005, 09:25 AM
"Jim Carmichel's Book of the Rifle" is the best recent book (1985) on rifles that I have read. Surprisingly, I can only find it used these days...but I have learned more from his book than any other. Jack O'Conner would be my 2nd choice as an author but his stuff is getting pretty old and doesn't deal with developments in the past 25 years or so.

April 24, 2005, 08:00 PM
For good writing about upland bird shooting I like George Bird Evans. His The Upland Shooting Life is a pleasant mixed bag of stories that touch on (among other things) the "why" of upland hunting, the coverts, the birds, the dogs, the guns, and the men who shoot them.

Consider the last two paragraphs of his opening tale, "By an Evening's Fire":

"There are a given number of days in a lifetime and here at Old Hemlock we try to see that no one of them passes unused. We live a sort of civilized eighteenth-century country life in which there are still values, none of them based on dollars, a life in which the word 'spent' means shells. In Far Away and Long Ago, W.H. Hudson defined just what, as a young boy in South America, he asked of life:'I want only to keep what I have; to rise each morning and look out on the sky and the grassy dew-wet earth from day to day, from year to year...to feel the same old sweet surprise and delight...'

"Poor Hudson was writing of a life that was fifty years gone. My Far Away and Long Ago is Here and Now."

Spend some time afield with Mr. Evans in this pages of this book. I believe that you will find him to be a pleasant gunning companion.

Good luck, and good shooting!

April 24, 2005, 09:18 PM
My sig gives me away- huh?

Ruark ( all his works)
Cory Ford ( thanks for sharing that btw)

...and others....

April 26, 2005, 01:24 PM
Patrick MacManus for entertainment and humor of all of his books. (Favorite line: "A lot of people confuse "edible" with "good to eat". There are hundreds of edible plants in the woods, but only two are "good to eat".

Peter Hathaway Capstick for African hunting and a mastery of storytelling.

Ross Seyfreid for scorn and ridicule in magazine articles, Rick Jamison for the work he puts into his articles.

Jim Corbett's book "Maneaters of Kumaon" for an engrossing subject of tigers and leopards gone bad.

April 27, 2005, 01:05 PM
I would be remiss if I didn't mention my hunting mentor, the late Gene Hill. His A Hunter's Fireside Book is responsible for inspiring me to take up the gun in pursuit of game. He taught me that hunting, if done in the proper spirit, will allow me to bring home much, much more than just a bird or venison for the table.

As the late Ed Zern said in his quotation on this book's rear cover, "Gene Hill's writing blends a country boy's deep, almost religious feeling for the out-of-doors with a city man's wit and sophistication. This isn't surprising because he's both--and the result is one of the best outdoor books in several coons' ages." I couldn't have said it any better.

Good luck, and good shooting!

May 30, 2005, 09:41 AM
cjwartes' post on the Solunar Tables reminded me of John Alden Knight, another of my favorite hunting authors. His books titled Woodcock and Ruffed Grouse should be required reading for anyone who aspires to the title of "Upland Game Hunter." Lots of good information in both, and well-written, too.

Good luck, and good shooting!

June 7, 2005, 02:32 PM
Elmer Keith, Peter Hathaway Capstick, Theodore Roosevelt.

June 7, 2005, 08:09 PM
Pat McManus
Ed Zern
Russel Tinsley
Robert Ruark

June 7, 2005, 08:29 PM
For purely technical information, I enjoy Craig Boddington and Jim Zumbo. Mr. Boddington offers us insight on the rifle as used on large game in various manners, usually describing one of his many African hunts to do so.

Mr. Zumbo, it seems, has much knowledge on all things North American, most noteably Elk. However, he also shares information on sheep, various deer, and bear.

For entertainment value, I also like Bill Heavy, who writes for Feild and Stream. His stories are almost always humorous and light-hearted, which is a welcome break from the usual techno-babble about the new .234 winchester super short belted magnum moly tipped alloy cased game grabbing super bullet. Also, his occasional editorial and "A Sportsman's Life" column are regular monthly entertainment.

June 11, 2005, 02:26 PM
For those that are reading this thread, I have been reading old Gun Digest of late since I have quite a few of them. There are a lot of really interesting stories in those books... perfect for the BR. You can pick these up pretty cheaply on ebay as they (or most) really aren't collector items. Of late, I have been reading stories written by the gun writers about the 44 magnum as the article in this months Shooting Times (An American Legend Turns 50 by Glenn Barnes) has spurred some historical interest on my part.