Hunting Books: 4 Favorites
As youngsters, we often discover the world through the pages of what books our parents choose to read us at bedtime. Some learn about the stars and aspire to become astronomers, which is a noble life pursuit. Fortunately, we were read the amazing adventures by some of the biggest names and greatest characters to ever hoist a rifle, head afield, then live to write about it. Even as grownups, there are still works that continue to inspire us as outdoorsmen.
Hunting Trips of a Ranchman & The Wilderness Hunter - Theodore Roosevelt
Written during his days as a ranchman in the Dakota Badlands, these two wilderness tales by our 26th president Theodore Roosevelt endure today as part of the classic folklore of the mostly unexplored West. The narratives provide vivid portraits of the land as well as the people and animals that inhabited it, underscoring Roosevelt’s abiding concerns as a naturalist.
Originally published in 1885, Hunting Trips of a Ranchman chronicles Roosevelt’s adventures tracking a 1,200-pound grizzly bear in the pine forests of the Bighorn Mountains. Yet some of the best sections are those in which Roosevelt muses on the beauty of the Badlands and the simple pleasures of ranch life.
The Wilderness Hunter, which came out in 1893, remains perhaps the most detailed account of the grizzly bear ever recorded. Plus, TR hunts antelope, mountain sheep, caribou, elk, moose, among other wild game of the west. There is an introduction by Stephen E. Ambrose, perhaps most notably known for Band of Brothers, which became an HBO series of the same name.
Note: These two stories are now published as one book.
Just Before Dark: Collected Nonfiction - Jim Harrison
Jim Harrison is no stranger to the outdoors. In this collection of essays written between 1965 and 1991, he speaks strongly on the matters of “Food” and “Travel and Sport,” pulling no punches as he decries the ugliness of wasteful butchery of wildlife and nature in general. He’s quick to poke fun at “dimwitted machismo” and literary snobbishness, both equally available in the many classes of outdoor writers.
From trout and ice fishing the waters of the United States to stag hunting in France and his obsession of nouvelle cuisine, Just Before Dark explores the passions and concerns of a man who was one of America’s finest writers and a self-proclaimed “amateur naturalist.”
Green Hills of Africa - Ernest Hemingway
How can we create a list of classic hunting books and not include Ernest Hemingway? In Green Hills of Africa, he is living and hunting East Africa with his wife Pauline. Divided into four parts, including “Pursuit and Conversation,” “Pursuit Remember,” “Pursuit and Failure” and “Pursuit and Happiness,” the book is equally interspersed with ruminations about literature and Hemingway’s own adventures of a big-game hunter.
The events described in the book took place in 1933 though the first edition, which printed just over ten thousand copies, wasn’t published until 1935. For hunters and the avid fan of Papa Hemingway, this is one of the best collections of nonfiction still in print.
Death in the Long Grass - Peter Capstick
Peter Hathaway Capstick was no stranger to the perils of Africa. Just shy of his 30th birthday, he walked away from a successful career on Wall Street to pursue his dreams of becoming a Professional Hunter. He would eventually catch up to those dreams as a PH and game ranger in Zambia, Botswana and Rhodesia.
Death in the Long Grass was his first go at a book after writing numerous articles for various sport magazines throughout the 1960s. It became a commercial success and established his reputation as an author of adventure stories.
The book is based on his own experiences and the personal accounts of his colleagues and portrays the great killers of the African bush, including the lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, crocodile, Cape buffalo and the greatest killer of men, the hippo. He also pays tribute to the surprisingly brave and cunning hyena, the lightning-fast black mamba snake and the wild dog. This is a great book suitable for a campfire and anyone willing to listen to you read aloud.