Want to go hunting with shooting expert John Barsness, or how about fly-fishing with John Holt? While not all of us may be able to talk these guys into an outing, we are able to tag along with them in their newly released books.
These titles can fill the niche as a stocking stuffer or Christmas present for the outdoors person in your life, taking them on adventures during this snow-locked winter.
Barsness' latest book is titled “Obsessions of a Rifle Loony” (Deep Creek Press, $23.50). He said when male gun show attendees see the title, they're confused and ask him to define “rifle loony.” Women, on the other hand, seem to not only know the definition but also apply it to their male partners.
“It's a book for people who just like any kind of rifles and are just obsessive about them,” Barsness said in a telephone interview from his Townsend home (Would that be his loony bin?). “I've been that way as far back as I could buy rifles.”
Born and raised in Montana, Barsness is no snob, though. He still hunts public lands, block management and the few ranches where he worked in his younger days. Although not a target shooter, he has a collection that he's constantly altering as he buys and trades all types of guns.
“I enjoy the whole historical perspective,” he said, relying on an extensive library of books to track down a rifle's pedigree. “And I try to put a little entertainment in there, too. A lot of gun writing is pretty dry.”
Barsness self-publishes his books, which can be found online at www.riflesandrecipes.com.
“Flyfishing Adventures Montana”: John Holt, Wilderness Adventures Press, $24.95 — John Holt tours 21 Montana waters in his latest book, which combines tales of his trips to the streams, along with details on suggested fly choices and places to eat and stay. Instead of focusing on the more glamorous rivers, such as the Madison or Bighorn, Holt writes about streams less well-known, like the West Boulder, Poplar and Tongue rivers.
Holt writes in the introduction: “The adventure of finding new waters or re-visiting old ones and finding out they're as good as they've always been keeps flyfishing fresh.”
“Blindsided, Surviving a Grizzly Attack and Still Loving the Great Bear”: Jim Cole with Tim Vandehey, St. Martin's Press, $25.99: — Bozeman resident Jim Cole died this year shortly after the release of his book. Twice attacked by grizzlies — once in Glacier and the second time in Yellowstone — he nonetheless was a tireless advocate for bears. Cole recounts both attacks, and his long road to recovery following the second mauling that left him blind in one eye. How he managed to walk out after the near-fatal mauling is an amazing survival story.
“Old Yellowstone Days”: Paul Schullery, University of New Mexico Press, $24.95 — Reissued 30 years after it was first printed, this book by noted Yellowstone National Park archivist Paul Schullery has been spiffed up with new illustrations. The book tracks visitor accounts of trips to Yellowstone in the early years following its dedication in 1872 as a national park. The writers range from President Theodore Roosevelt to author Rudyard Kipling and artist Frederic Remington.
“The book is a chronicle of some of Yellowstone's most notable early pilgrims,” Schullery writes in the introduction. “It celebrates the Yellowstone experience as it was when we were still pioneering everything to do with enjoying and appreciating Yellowstone.”
“Blue Lines, A Fishing Life”: Tom Reed, Riverbend Publishing, $12.95 — Pony author Tom Reed travels through his memories and several Western states while exulting in the joys of fishing in this collection of stories. The “Blue Lines” in the title refers to the thin, blue lines drawn on maps that represent small streams, some of his favorite places to fish. But he's also drawn to large rivers.
In a chapter about the Bighorn River, Reed writes, “If I was born in the high country alongside the headwaters of the baby 'Horn, if I perfected my fish catching here, then on the grown-up 'Horn in Montana, I am learning the fine art of maturing on a fickle river and the higher art of saying, 'Well, it's just great to be out on a day like this.' And believing it. Or at least convincing myself that I believe that statement.”
“Love Story of the Trout, Award-Winning Fly-Fishing Stories, Volume 2”: edited by Joe Healy, Fly Rod & Reel Books, $16.95 — Writer John Gierach takes issue with the term “sporting fiction” in his introduction to this collection of stories dated from 1988 to present.
“It makes the same kind of pointless distinction as 'investigative journalism.' (I mean, what kind of journalism isn't investigative?)”
Authors included in the book include Robert F. Jones, Jerry Gibbs and Thomas McIntyre.
“Reading these 15 stories will take you on wild, lively and memorable journeys, all united by fly-fishing,” Healy writes.
“Fly Tying: 30 Years of Tips, Tricks, Patterns”: edited by Jim Butler, Fly Rod & Reel Books, $29.95 — For anglers who enjoy tying their own flies, this mixed bag of recipes and stories, highlighted by detailed illustrations and color photographs, provides a wealth of opportunity to explore. The book covers everything from saltwater to smallmouth patterns, with a concentration on trout. Contributing tiers include Darrel Martin and A.K. Best — two top tiers with very different approaches. For those in a hurry, Best offers a selection of 10-minute ties.
“The breadth of material in these pages is unusual for a fly-tying book,” writes Ted Leeson in the introduction. “You'll find not only traditional patterns that have been catching fish for centuries, but reinterpretations of those traditions that are more closely aligned with the way we fish and tie today.”
Contact Brett French, Gazette Outdoors editor, at email@example.com or at 657-1387.