This gallery is the second gallery in our collection of nearly every OL bear cover ever published, which includes illustrations that range from running black bears with hounds to freak grizzly attacks to odd-looking polar bears. You can find the earliest bear covers (from 1900 to 1939) right here. You can find the next installment of covers, from 1972 to 1988, right here. (And in case you’re wondering why there’s a gap between 1939 and 1943, it’s because we didn’t run any bear covers from 1940 to 1942.)
This roundup happens to contain my personal favorite cover out of all the OL covers, from the November 1961 issue. The composition is striking: the handsome bull elk in the foreground has clearly just hit the ground; the hunter on horseback who killed him is framed inside his antlers, rifle in hand as he rides to confront the grizzly who also seeks to claim the carcass. “Outdoor Life” is arranged boldly around the massive hump of the bear’s back. The warm fall colors and misty indigo mountains in the back complete the scene. In fact, I like this image so much that I framed it not once, but twice: It hangs both in my cubicle at the OL headquarters and over my kitchen table in my Brooklyn apartment (aka the home office).
A handful of bear covers are probably missing from this round up, due to spotty records where we scanned issues with torn covers (and the fact that it’s easy to overlook a single cover among a thousand). So if I’ve forgotten any that you remember, or your own personal favorite, be sure to let me know. And if you want to read through the issues these covers belong to, consider a subscription to our digital archives.