Sunday, November 16, 2008

Hunting, Fishing, Outdoor books

As I read over the post I made last week about some of my favorite things, it dawned on me that the impetus for the post never made it into the story, and that it probably deserved a post of its own. I was looking through my books, and pulled out one of my absolute favorites - "The Old Man and the Boy" and "The Old Man's Boy Grows Older", both together under one cover, by Robert Ruark.

I am too young to have read Ruark's columns when he was writing for Field and Stream, first the series of columns that make up the book I've noted, and then his famous series of African safari articles. I have since come to look at Ruark's works as my favorite in all of outdoor writing, eclipsing (for me) even the works of Hemingway, Jack London, and Robert Traver. Much like art and beauty, the quality of the written word lies in the eye of the beholder - there is no right or wrong. Lengthy debates have, and will continue to, arise over the merits and shortcomings of one author over another. These are healthy as debates, but not much more - if you read and enjoy an author, then they are good. Period.

I have nearly everything Robert Ruark has ever written - I believe I'm missing "Grenadine Etching". In my estimation, the book seen above, along with his African Safari books (Use Enough Gun, Horn of the Hunter) secures Ruark's place in hunting's Written Hall of Fame. While "The Old Man and the Boy" stories deal primarily about hunting while growing up in coastal North Carolina (the stories are works of fiction but rely heavily on autobiographical content), a fair amount of these pieces are about fishing experiences - brim on the river, drum on the ocean barrier islands. All are memorable and, if you have not read them, go to your local library and take out a copy, pick up a cheap used copy on eBay, or hunt for one in your local used book store - you will not be disappointed

When my son expressed some interest in hunting at the age of 10, I told him he needed to read "The Old Man and the Boy" first, to understand what hunting was really all about. He read the stories, and still re-reads them, even though he's not a hunter. He loves to fish and finds the same joy in them that I have for years. I hope you do , too.
P.S. - this individual book is particularly near and dear to my heart. The forward in this book is from Peter Capstick who, along with Ruark, is proabably the most famous Safari writer. I met Peter in 1992 and he signed the book to me on the front page of the forward. He died a year later.


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