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By: M.R. James

AS AN AUTHOR AND LONGTIME BOWHUNTER, I must confess to a lifelong love affair with good writing and good books. To my way of thinking, hunters who’ve never read the sporting classics such as Robert Ruark’s The Old Man and the Boy, Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac, and Dr. Saxton Pope’s Hunting With the Bow and Arrow, have missed great literature penned by hunters whose words ultimately fired the imagination of millions.

Contributing to that literary legacy were men like archery legends Howard Hill and Fred Bear, to name only two who shared their bowhunting adventures and advice with eager readers. Hill’s Hunting the Hard Way and Papa Bear’s The Archer’s Bible and Fred Bear’s Field Notes should be welcome additions to any serious archer’s library.

More recently, Glenn St. Charles’ Bows on the Little Delta and Chuck Adams’ Super Slam have provided vicarious hunting thrills and insights into the lives of men whose careers are defined by their many contributions to modern archery. As for books that offer helpful instruction and ideas, it’s hard to beat Fred Asbell’s Instinctive Shooting books and Curt Wells’ Geared Up.

These suggested books for the bowhunter include some true classics and other “sleepers” that could earn that title in years to come. What’s on your list of favorites?

As far as other contemporaries who’ve produced possible classics, consider Dwight Schuh, whose how-to books Bugling for Elk and Bowhunting Mule Deer contain solid writing and hunting how-to info still pertinent today. Ditto for Gene Wensel and his Bowhunting Rutting Whitetails and Jay Massey’s Bowhunting Alaska’s Wild Rivers.

Want exceptional writing? Read Longbows in the Far North by E. Donnall Thomas, Jr., or most anything else written by the Montana-based physician/author. And find a copy of Hall of Fame bowhunter Jim Dougherty’s The Best of Trails End, a collection of select magazine columns he’s authored over the years.

While many of the books named here are out of print and not always easy to locate, tracking down copies on Amazon, eBay, and other often reliable sources make it worth the time and effort. I know that copies of at least one of my own books, My Place, penned back in 1992, pops up on eBay from time to time. I’ve also seen others of the previously mentioned books listed for sale.

What about more recently published books I’d recommend? Here are a mere handful for your consideration.

*Adventure Bowhunter by Tom Miranda is a beautiful full-color 365-page book that documents Tom’s quest for the Super Slam. It’s chock-full of adventure, info, and advice, complemented by excellent photography. It lists for $34.99 and is available from Krause Publications by dialing toll-free 1-800-258-0929 or online at www.shopdeerhunting.com.

*The Sound of the String, an African Bush Country novel by Brad Isham, is excellent bowhunting fiction. Its 248 pages offer the unfolding story of Gordon Bradford, a man with a backpack and longbow searching for answers and finding them among the Dark Continent’s inhabitants and animals encountered on his memorable journey. The paperback costs $18.95 and may be ordered at by contacting brad@starvingstick.com.

*Platte River Driftwood by Nebraska educator and bowhunter Bryce Lambley is the follow-up to his popular debut book, My Neck of the Woods. Its subtitle, “101 of the Best of Platte Valley Outdoors,” offers a clue as to what to expect from a hunter, teacher, coach, and father whose strong affection for his family, the land, and its wildlife are obvious. Incidentally, Bryce also pens articles for national bowhunting magazines in addition to a weekly newspaper column for the Fremont Tribune. His new, well-illustrated 246-page paperback book sells for $20.00 postpaid and may be ordered from Hermit House Publishing at (407) 720-1290 or by e-mail at bruce.lambley@yahoo.com.

Finally, for readers who enjoy my own writing, take a look at my eighth and latest book, Hunting the Dream. It’s a candid and sweeping 326-page memoir that’s partly family chronicle, partly a history of Bowhunter magazine, and mostly a hunter’s journal that spans more than half a century, providing personal insights, unique perspective, and memorable hunting adventures. Its 100 or so photographs amply illustrate the book’s 30-plus chapters It sells to U. S. residents for $25.00 postpaid and signed copies are available online from MRJames12640@aol.com or by going to my new website, www.mrjamesbowhunter.com.

With fall deer seasons still months away, spring and summer are the ideal time to prime the pump by scanning the old classics and the newest hunting literature. It ain’t the same as picking up your bow and heading for the woods, but it’s better than sitting around idly waiting on opening day.

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