Four books every hunter should read

A hunter’s reading list.

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Outdoor Life has already compiled 14 books that will change the way you hunt and the top 20 books for hunters and anglers. Add this short list to your reading queue. Below, four books that you can download and pore over before opening day.

In this deeply researched and even-handed tome, Philip Dray, a noted historian, traces the history of American hunting from its earliest days. The book dives deep into hunter’s successes here stateside, including the development and legislation of a strong fairchase ethic, and the birth of the American model of conservation. It touches on some missteps along the way, namely market hunting and the unchecked slaughter of the bison. (Which one could argue isn’t even hunting.) The overall picture is extremely positive, though, and Dray does a commendable job showing how sportsmen have led political movements to protect wildlife and the nation’s wildest places.

This new collection of 18 stories includes some of the most renowned outdoors writers of all time, including Theodore Roosevelt, Nash Buckingham, and Archibald Rutledge. The book’s editor, Lamar Underwood, no doubt has an eye for writing talent: He was previously editor-in-chief of Sports Afield and Outdoor Life. The collection he’s compiled is an excellent starting place if you’ve never dived into the old greats.

Rick Bass, a Field & Stream contributor, has spent his career as an essayist covering some of the most important conservation issues of our time, taking a special interest in the protection of the grizzly bear. He’s also one heck of a short-story writer, as this thick collection of new and selected fiction certainly proves. Not every story is about the outdoors, though a good number are. That said, “Elk”—about a hunting trip gone awry—is alone worth the price of admission.

Josh Kirchner made his name as the guy behind Dialed in Hunter, a breezy personal blog about the outdoors. His new book aims to teach new hunters how to prepare for their first season of backcountry backpack hunting, detailing safety considerations, food prep, the physical demands, and practical skills. It promises to be a good crash course if you’re looking to tag out way out in the wilderness.