The Wilderness Hunter, by Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt was a man of integrity, as well as a verbose and prolific writer. Several of his works deserve a place on this list. This one, which offers a glimpse into hunting the Americas before they were tamed, is one of my favorites.
Come November, by Gene Wensel
If you're a hardcore whitetail hunter you know the names Gene and Barry Wensel. Hunting exclusively with stick and string, guiding for years along the famous Milk River in Montana, and now living in the Land of Giants in Iowa, they've learned through many close encounters much about truly big bucks. Come November is full of stories, information, and wisdom, and is a must read for anyone who enjoys good stories and hunting monster whitetails.
Man-Eaters of Kumaon, by Jim Corbett
One of my favorite contemporary authors, Wayne Van Zwoll, sent this volume to me. It couldn't have come with higher recommendation, and I immediately lost myself in the wilds of early 20th century India. Corbett wrote well, with decided lack of braggadocio, of his incredible experiences sorting out man-eating tigers. Wild stories of even wilder times, the reader is left wishing he were Corbett, yet is profoundly glad of a safe bed to retire to when darkness reaches its stealthy fingers across the horizon.
The Double Helix: Bowhunting African Plains Game, by E. Don Thomas
Don's tales, thoughts, and essays of traditional bowhunting for Africa's plains game provided the first inspiration I experienced to hunt the Dark Continent. Since then many additional volumes have added fuel to that fire, but Thomas' prose left me smelling the dust under my feet and feeling the bowstring on my fingers. It's a good book, one that will leave the discerning reader examining his own code of ethics, wiser on the subject of stalking African plains game, and with a desire to leave his own tracks in the Kalahari sand.
Once Upon a Tine, by Barry Wensel
Nope, that title's not a misprint. Uncle Barry, as he's known among his friends and hunting buddies, has a sense of humor second to none. His wit is sharper than his broadheads, which are plenty sharp. This collection of stories and adventure from a lifetime of hunting with a traditional bow are mesmerizing, inspiring, and just might leave you with a laughter-induced side-ache.
Meat Eater: Adventures from the Life of an American Hunter, by Steven Rinella
It's no secret that Rinella has established a clarion voice espousing the virtues of good hunting ethics, wildlife management, and common sense in today's conflicted society. Perceptive and well written, this book entertains, enlightens, and educates all in the same breath.
Fred Bear’s Field Notes: The Adventures of Fred Bear, by Fred Bear
With the possible exception of Theodore Roosevelt, Fred Bear has had more influence on hunting—bowhunting in particular—than any other author on this list. Photos, equipment and food lists, tales and tactics, and more are all laid forth in simple prose, detailing 15 adventures from the journals of one of, if not the, finest bowhunter of the 20th century. Read, learn, and go buy yourself a stick bow.
Backcountry Bowhunting: A Guide to the Wild Side, by Cameron Hanes
You might have noticed that many of my favorite authors are serious bowhunters. That's partly because I love to venture forth with stick and string in my own hands, and partly because archery hunters often have a more intimate knowledge of the wildlife and wild lands they interact with. Suffice it to say that I learned more of the basics of backcountry hunting from this book than from any other, because it's packed with info, tactics, and technique. I consider it an invaluable read for neophyte and veteran alike.
Karamojo Safari, by W.D.M. Bell
Just over a century ago ivory was like gold, elephants abounded in vast numbers, and a hunter with keen eyes, a well-zeroed rifle, and enough wit to keep him alive could make his fortune in a very short time. Not only did Bell posses the rifle, the eyes, and the wit; he also possessed skill with a pen. Karamojo Safari details the events of one of his great safaris into the deadly reaches of untamed Africa. An extraordinary marksman with nerves of stainless steel, Bell tells it like it was, with fascinating insights into life as it once was on the Dark Continent.
Death in the Long Grass, by Peter Hathaway Capstick
While on the subject of Africa, I would be remiss if I didn't mention one of Capstick's books. Known as a plagiarist extraordinaire, he nonetheless single-handedly captured the essence of wild Africa and distilled it into prose that captivated the hearts of hunters across the globe. A magician with pen and paper, Capstick will have you smelling the sun-dried long grass and the hippo's breath.
Alaska’s Wolf Man, by Jim Rearden
I first heard of this book from OL contributor Tyler Freel. I knew when I heard the awe in Tyler's voice that Alaska's Wolf Man was a book I had to read. It's a fascinating account of hunting, dog mushing, wolf-taming, and the extraordinary life of Sourdough Frank Glaser in the backcountry of early-twentieth century Alaska. Think you're tough? Read this book—it'll cure that notion.
One With the Wilderness, by Mike Mitten
Written by one of today's most serious solo bowhunters, this book will inspire anyone with a craving for true skill and hunting adventure. Mike disappears into the wilds of, well, somewhere, and emerges days or weeks later with a big bull elk or Alaskan moose strapped to his pack frame. He's not as skilled with a pen as he is with wilderness living, but his simple words embody authenticity, integrity, and heart. Great hunting stories, moose maulings, and genuine adventure fill the pages of One With The Wilderness, a book that every serious hunter should read.
Born to the Bow, by Bill Baker
An uncommon piece of literature, Born to the Bow is a compilation of stories written primarily about bowhunting in the author's native Australia. Baker is entertaining, perhaps a bit brash by timid modern standards, and quite obviously good at getting smack in the middle of adventure. If you don't already have a hankering to hunt Down Under, read this and you will.
Life at Full Draw, by Gregg Gutschow
"The Chuck Adams Story" is the subtitle of this volume, and that's what it is. I filched this book off of a buddy's shelf a couple decades ago and never returned it. As a relatively new bowhunter, I was inspired by the stories and insights into Chuck's character. Love him or hate him, Chuck Adams knows how to hunt, isn't afraid to bivy alone in the backcountry of Kodiak Island, and has focus. Read it with an open mind, as this book can certainly change the way you hunt.
Portions of this article originally appeared on the Outdoor Life website.
Please contact Dani Anderson at [email protected] or 208.322.5902 if you would like more information about Bushmen Safaris.