Best Hunting and Survival Books
Books about hunting, fishing, or a guide on surviving in the woods are a staple of woodsy cabins, but actually make for great reading even if hunting and the woods are not your thing. We have put together a suggested starter collection of classic books on hunting, the woods, and survival.
George Washington Sears, also known as “Nessmuk,” was a Romantic. He sought to witness the glory and the beauty of nature; to free himself from the vagaries of industrialized civilization. He expressed this philosophy through his pursuit of the minimalist ideal and its use in the outdoors. WOODCRAFT AND CAMPING is Nessmuk’s practical and philosophical guide to camping, traveling, and survival in the woods. The book discusses the foundational skills needed to live in the woods: the art of camping, fishing, fire-making, cooking, shelter, tools, and canoeing. But Nessmuk does not just recite the skills needed, he also tells us about his experiences and conversa- tions during his travels. He provides us with campfire poetry and lore. And he does all of this in a writing style that is eloquent, engrossing, and intrinsically positive. “Go light; the lighter the better, so that you have the simplest material for health, comfort and enjoyment.” “It is well that a few congenial spirits should at some favorite trysting place, gather around the glowing stove and exchange yarns, opinions and experiences.”
Sportsmans Guide to Game Animals; a Field Book of North American Species. with Photos, by the Author. Introd. by Richard G. Van Gelder
“Don’t make the mistake of thinking that this book is “outdated”. Sure, it’s almost 50 years old, but the info is just as relevant as ever. In fact, the best thing about it is that it lacks the fluff and filler you see in most contemporary “outdoor writing” in general, and “field guide” type hunting-oriented literature in specific. In addition to writing, Leonard is also a highly accomplished photographer and his body of work is massive. If you like Sportsman’s Guide to Game Animals, I encourage you to check out his other stuff.”
The Nick Adams Stories by Ernest Hemingway
From one of the 20th century’s greatest voices comes the complete volume of his short stories featuring Nick Adams, Ernest Hemingway’s memorable character, as he grows from child to adolescent to soldier, veteran, writer, and parent—a sequence closely paralleling the events of Hemingway’s life.
The complete collection of Ernest Hemingway’s Nick Adams two dozen stories are gathered here in one volume, grouped together according to the major time periods in the protagonist’s life. Based on Hemingway’s own experieces as a boy and as a member of the Red Cross ambulance corps in World War I. The collection follows Nick’s life as a child to parent, along with soldier, veteran, and writer and feature some of Hemingway’s earliest work such as “Indian Camp” and some of his best known short stories, including “Big Two-Hearted River.” Perfect for longtime Hemingway fans and as an introduction to one of America’s most famous writers.
A Sand County Almanac (Outdoor Essays & Reflections)
Published in 1949, shortly after the author’s death, A Sand County Almanac is a classic of nature writing, widely cited as one of the most influential nature books ever published. Writing from the vantage of his summer shack along the banks of the Wisconsin River, Leopold mixes essay, polemic, and memoir in his book’s pages. In one famous episode, he writes of killing a female wolf early in his career as a forest ranger, coming upon his victim just as she was dying, “in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes…. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, no wolves would mean hunters’ paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.” Leopold’s road-to-Damascus change of view would find its fruit some years later in his so-called land ethic, in which he held that nothing that disturbs the balance of nature is right. Much of Almanac elaborates on this basic premise, as well as on Leopold’s view that it is something of a human duty to preserve as much wild land as possible, as a kind of bank for the biological future of all species. Beautifully written, quiet, and elegant, Leopold’s book deserves continued study and discussion today. –Gregory McNamee
A River Runs through It and Other Stories
Elegantly redesigned, A River Runs through It includes a new foreword by Robert Redford, director of the Academy Award-winning 1992 film adaptation of River. Based on Maclean’s own experiences as a young man, the book’s two novellas and short story are set in the small towns and mountains of western Montana. It is a world populated with drunks, loggers, card sharks, and whores, but also one rich in the pleasures of fly-fishing, logging, cribbage, and family. By turns raunchy and elegiac, these superb tales express, in Maclean’s own words, “a little of the love I have for the earth as it goes by.”
The Longest Silence: A Life in Fishing Paperback by Thomas McGuane
From the highly acclaimed author of Ninety-Two in the Shade and Nothing but Blue Skies comes this collection of breathtakingly exquisite essays borne of a lifetime spent fishing.
The thirty-three essays in The Longest Silence take us from the tarpon of Florida to the salmon of Iceland, from the bonefish of Mexico to the trout of Montana. They bring us characters as varied as a highly literate Canadian frontiersman and a devoutly Mormon river guide and address issues ranging from the esoteric art of tying flies to the enduring philosophy of a seventeenth-century angler. Infused with a deep experience of wildlife and the outdoors, both reverent and hilarious by turns, The Longest Silence sets the heart pounding for a glimpse of moving water and demonstrates what dedication to sport reveals about life.
How to Stay Alive in the Woods: A Complete Guide to Food, Shelter and Self-Preservation Anywhere Hardcover by Bradford Angier
Broken down into four essential sections, Sustenance, Warmth, Orientation and Safety, this enlightening manual reveals how to catch game without a gun, what plants to eat (full-color illustrations of these make identification simple), how to build a warm shelter, make clothing, protect yourself and signal for help. Detailed illustrations and expanded instructions offer crucial information at a glance, making How to Stay Alive in the Woods truly a lifesaver.
Beyond Fair Chase: The Ethic and Tradition of Hunting
Beyond Fair Chase is for anyone concerned about the future of hunting. In simple but powerful text, it describes the ethical way to hunt, from preparation to shooting to care after the shot. Never before have so many issues been linked together in an ethical context. ‘Jim Posewitz has emerged as a leader in ensuring its (hunting) place in American Culture.’ – Spokesman Review
Outdoor Survival Skills Paperback by Larry Dean Olsen
Outdoor Survival Skills has taught three generations of wilderness adventurers how to survive in nature without expensive purchased equipment, instead drawing on knowledge of the land and carefully tested techniques, many of them ancient, for finding or creating shelter, fire, tools, water, and plant and animal foods. In this new edition, anecdotes from the author’s lifetime of experience provide thrilling examples of the skills and attitudes that ensure survival outdoors.
Just Before Dark Paperback by Jim Harrison
Most of Jim Harrison’s fans know this Michigan native for his fiction, including Legends of the Fall, Dalva, True North and his hypnotic first novel from 1971, Wolf, though Harrison is also a brilliant composer of essays on hunting, fishing, and wild game. Some his best pieces, many of which were originally published in Sports Illustrated back in the 1970s, are collected in Just Before Dark. In these pages, Harrison offers up humor, moral insight, and a fair share of depravity and excess. He also takes time to explain why he doesn’t hunt Africa, why he loves hunting woodcock and why it’s a “sin against God and man” to skin a game bird rather than pluck it.