Monday, August 17, 2009

Isn't it ironic

"The suburbanite's desire to hunt must be deeply instinctive if it isn't buried by a world according to Trump. But the corollary must be that when modern America decides to hunt, it wants a sure thing. A place where your dollar always buys satisfaction, where if you pay for three pheasants you by God kill three pheasants.

.... The modern urban American hunter wants something certain, and in modern America a few dollars searching for something can find it. That's the law of the marketplace, and the marketplace has created Natty Bumppo as comparison shopper."

John Barsness, Western Skies

(Irony; the sole Amazon review for this most excellent book states: "Just a pleasant read and not informative of where and how to put a hunt together. This appears to be the author's intent, however most of us are in the execution mode, not the live/read about other lives mode." In other words, "just tell me where to go and how to do it, don't waste my time with your stories or 'philosophy' and please, please don't make me read closely and draw some of my own lessons".)


Chad Love said...

Further (sad) irony: I found my copy of "Western Skies" on a remainder table at my local Hastings.

Good for my college-era wallet.

Not so good for either John Barsness or the overall state of literary outdoors writing when the books of one of the genre's best real writers are finding their way on to the clearance racks...

Barsness hangs out over on the "Ask The Gunwriters" forum on 24hourcampfire, and every now and then he offers a really interesting perspective on the outdoors writing scene.

mdmnm said...


Literary outdoors writing always seems to lack for a whole lot of love. I'd have thought that the 1-2 punch of "A River Runs Through It" and "Legends of the Fall"* being made into fairly successful movies would have given books with trees in them some legs after viewers checked out the source material. My not-really-serious theory is that any uptick in readership was driven off by the seeming raft of "how I found true meaning/reconnected with family/came to turns with aging through fly fishing" books that appeared a decade later.

I check out that forum every so often- its a good one.

*Which I realize isn't quite outdoor writing in the sense of hook & bullet and that Harrison is more of, and quite the, novelist, but it's still closer than 90% of the rest of the fiction out there)

Borepatch said...

There's a lot of truth in that.

Also a discussion on how people don't have patience.

Hunter Angler Gardener Cook said...

As a suburban hunter, I gotta say that when I go out in my very limited time available, I want the best chance of success I can manage. I am not talking about put-and-take pheasants, which I am not a fan of, but when I go out I do a ton of internet scouting and checking of things from where I live before I get in the truck. I watch moon phases and tides and wind and temperature and all those things, hoping I am right. Sometimes I am, sometimes, I'm not. It's still good to be out there, because I learn even on unsuccessful days, but because I cannot just go out again tomorrow it can be more frustrating. And remember, I have a lot more time than a typical suburban hunter, who can't get out more than a few times a season. I feel bad for those guys, who really never get a chance to progress to "hunter." Their limited time keeps them as just "shooters," at the mercy of those guide who have done the scouting and know the methods that work best in their areas.

mdmnm said...


I'm a suburban hunter as well and am very familiar with the pressure of limited time and the desire to make the most of it.

You're right, research helps a bunch. Even with research and spending precious time scouting as well, you just can't get around the learning curve. I've been hunting ducks on a five mile stretch of river for nine (going to be ten) years now and while my success is much better, game in the bag is not a sure thing by any means. That's part of the joy of hunting- if it was easy, everybody would do it, heck, anybody could do it- and what fun would that be?

A glance through my archives will reveal guided hunts for pheasant, so I don't speak from any sort of a "purist" position, but I think the guys that trade money for better odds and rely exclusively or mostly on guided hunts are cheating themselves.

Steve Bodio said...

Appalling-- and probably why John writes mostly tech gun stuff today (he started as a poet!)

Won't even get into my books...

We should all write Amazon reviews. How does Tom McIntyre get reviewed?

mdmnm said...


I've got to admit, I've never checked the Amazon reviews for your books; I knew your writing and so checking reviews never occurred to me. Ditto McIntyre, Charlie Waterman, Pete Fromm, and several others. You all publish and I buy :)

The only reason I came across this review was ginning up the link to attach to the quote. Then I had to decide whether to laugh or slap my forehead.

Mike Spies said...

r"Outdoor" writing has a tough row to hoe. Look at the audience.

Many readers are simply ransacking the page looking for facts. Never mind that truth is more elusive and requires some study. And perhaps some thought.

The writer of fiction gets a break. Most readers want to know if the writer has a story to tell, and will spend some time on the language and construction.

It seems that the outdoor crowd wants their information sliced thin and served cold.