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Reading the Classics


I recently was encouraged by a well known outdoor scribe to delve into some reading. Admittedly, I have missed some of the classic reading that others so admire. I tend to find someone that I really like and read everything they ever wrote. That is why my affinity is for Gene Hill. Arguably one of a handful of great writers, who ever put pen to paper in the world of everything outdoors. Gene Hill wrote about guns, dogs, bird hunting, and everything that drives us from our sofa’s into the coverts, fields and high country that invigorates our soul.

Alas, I read Gene Hill’s books at least annually. I find the tattered “Hill Country” and I read again, as for the first time the adventures and escapades of this old scribe who tells the story better than most. As I have tried to expand my exposure to the classic outdoor writers I have found a treasure that many have known. But for those of you have not I would like to suggest some fine reading of the outdoor life that will, I believe will revitalize your zest for the adventure that we as sportsman so yearn for.

First I would recommend some of the following: Havilah Babcock and his classic work, “My Health is Better in November”. Babcock was a professor of English at the university of South Carolina for over thirty years. During this time, this transplanted Virginian found and fell in love with the South Carolina low country and specifically the Bob White quail that found this agrarian landscape his domain. Mr.Babcock weaves stories and tales of chasing Mr. Bob through the lowcountry of South Carolina. He tells of guns, friends and the working of dogs. His ability to capture dialect and demeanor are as good as it gets. Once you read this work of Babcock, you will want more.

Nash Buckingham is about as good as it gets when it comes to recollecting the early days of hunting waterfowl and upland birds. I elected to start with “The Best of Nash Buckingham” By George ‘Bird’ Evans. This compilation by Evans is the greatest of Buckingham’s works. It’s a great place to start. But you have to follow it up with “Da Shootentst Gentleman”. Perhaps his greatest work of all, and as some would argue the best of all outdoor literature of the twentieth century.

For the turkey hunters out there, there is no better work than “The Tenth Legion” By Colonel Tom Kelly. This work is without question the greatest work of turkey hunting I have ever read. As one well know writer told me about the Tenth Legion; “Tom Kelly get’s it.” He understands turkeys better than most and has a way of articulating it so we understand it as well.

There are many other great writers on my list, and I am sure on yours as well. Robert Ruark, Teddy Roosevelt, Steve Smith, Archibald Rutledge, Jack O’Conner and many, many more. I hesitate to make a list, but suffice it to say, a quick search of the internet will show a plethora of writers who all have captured the essence of the outdoors that we love so dearly. If you haven’t yet read any of these, you owe it to yourself to venture by the fireside and read, embrace, and examine the stories the tell, as they share with you the adventures of their time. Hoping that for some you will also taste the adventure for yourselves.

If you are looking for something more modern with a flare of the classic, my book, “Times Well Spent: Ramblings From a Sportsman’s Life” may be what you are looking for. It is available on Amazon, as are most of these works.