By Vic Venters
Live Pigeon Trap Shooting: Its History, Appurtenances, Descendants, and How to Do It
Cyril S. Adams
The Sporting Library, 2017, 275 pp., $100
The first book written in the English language on the subject in more than 120 years, Live Pigeon Trap Shooting encompasses far more than its nominal topic—it is literally the story of the development of modern wingshooting, guns, ammunition and the target-shooting sports (trap and Helice) that descended from it. Houston’s Cyril Adams, former owner of London gunmaker Atkin Grant & Lang and co-author of the enormously influential book Lock, Stock & Barrel, has spent a lifetime in the sport and exhaustively researched its history and influence as well as the rules of the game, past and present. The result—amply illustrated by hundreds of photos and illustrations—is the seminal book on wingshooting and fine guns.
Bird Dog Days, Wingshooting Ways: Archibald Rutledge’s Tales of Upland Hunting
Edited by Jim Casada
University of South Carolina Press, 2016, 179 pp., $29.99
The Greatest Quail Hunting Book Ever
Edited by Jim Casada
Sporting Classics, 2016, 343 pp., $35
The days when the wild bobwhite was “everyman’s” gamebird in the South are gone, but tales from the glory years live on in two compilations edited by the indefatigable Jim Casada, a retired history professor who has authored 19 sporting books and thousands of articles and who has edited 18 compilations, including four others by Archibald Rutledge (1883-1973). Bird Dog Days, Wingshooting Ways features essays on hunting dogs, ruffed grouse and quail, many of them set in the South. Rutledge was one of the best sporting storytellers of his generation, and his tales hold up to modern eyes better than those of many of his Southern contemporaries. Casada ends with an excellent bibliographical essay on South Carolina’s longtime poet laureate.
The title The Greatest Quail Hunting Book Ever may be marketing hyperbole, but among its 38 stories are unquestionably some of the greatest quail hunting tales set in the South—including classics by Ruark, Rutledge, Babcock and Bigelow as well as a handful set in modern times. Again Casada ends with a learned bibliographical essay, “The Quail Hunter as a Reader”—in itself virtually worth the price of the book.
Game Birds: A Celebration of North American Upland Birds
Sweetgrass Books, 2016, 246 pp., $65
Gary Kramer, a retired USF&WS biologist and globe-trotting outdoor writer and photographer, has produced a gorgeous, glossy, coffee-table book on North America’s gallinaceous gamebirds—all 34 species, from the most common to the rarest. Kramer is the first to photograph all of the species in the US and Canada—no easy task, given the rarity of some like the Himalayan snowcock. Accurate text and range maps for each species complement almost 400 high-quality color images. Equally at home in the library of any bird hunter or bird lover.