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November 24, 2008

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Petzal: The Hunter's Greatest Bathroom Book

First, you have to understand that I mean this as the highest form of praise. If someone tells me that they read my stuff in the bathroom, I swell up like a toad that’s been inhaling helium. So, with that understood…

My colleague at Field & Stream, Deputy Editor Jay Cassell, has assembled The Gigantic Book of Hunting Stories a collection that is astonishing in number (119; 782 pages) and outstanding in quality.  In most collections there are a few gems, some good stuff, and a fair number of pieces that were obviously included to pad out the page count. But TGBOHS is the best work of the best writers, all the way through. All the heavyweights are represented here.Gigantic

It starts with Teddy Roosevelt and progresses through nine more chapters: waterfowl, small game, big game, deer, Africa and Asia, and so on. Nothing is neglected.

A small example of how good TGBOHS is: Corey Ford was for years a mainstay of Field & Stream, and is remembered for his series, The Lower Forty, and for his story, The Road to Tinkhamtown, which is on the short list of the greatest pieces the magazine has ever run. Tinkhamtown is in here, but Ford also wrote a very short piece that may be its equal, or better, and very few people have ever heard of it, much less read it. It’s written in the form of a letter and is titled “Just a Dog.” It ran only once, in 1940, and created such a furor that it has never run again. Reading the piece is like getting punched in the chest. Jay Cassell has rescued Only a Dog from oblivion, and it alone is worth the price of the book, which is $25 from skyhorsepublishing.com.

Christmas is coming. Need I say more?

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Comments

rj

thanks Dave.
My wife is always looking to get me something for Christmas, And this would be great. this should cut out the ugly shirts,sweaters i won't wear, etc. I love books like this, give you a few minutes to be somewear else. a mini vacation.
again, thanks.

Dr. Ralph

Cool, finally you recommend a book not about war or the military. Going to Books a Million today to pick up "The Lost Classics of Jack O'guess who" and will order this one. Has to be better than the Louis L'Amour pulp westerns I've been numbing my brain with...

Chad Love

I'm an anthology nut so I think I may have to pick this up. Are a lot of the stories drawn from F&S? One thing I've wished for ever since the first one came out is a second "Best Of" F&S collection.

Dave Petzal

Most of the stories are not excerpted from Field & Stream, even though F&S is the foremost repository of great outdoor writing since the first hunter lied in print and got paid for it.

If you'd like two more books, one is Dangerous Game Rifles, by Terry Weiland, and the other is Safari Rifles, by Craig Boddington. They cover essentially the same subject, but their approach is very different. Even if you have no intention of mixing it up with something more savage than Hillary Clinton, both are great reading, and it's stuff that you haven't seen before.

Canadian Lurker

Should we expect an Ode to Petzal penned by your friend Jim C. in F&S anytime soon? It was a great write-up in OL by the way.
Just too bad we can't get F&S in stores anymore around here.

CJ

How about a new book on bazooka's, bayonets, or something equally as relevant to the average Joe as safari rifles.....

Dave Petzal

To Canadian Lurker: Great pen name. No, no kind words from Jim in F&S. Maybe when I finally run out of BS and retire.

Canadian Lurker

Ha! You're still full of it, stick around!

sean

hey dr. ralph lamour is great what the hell have you been smoking.

ishawooa

Let's see given the number of gun/hunting writers who have expired or retired over the last couple decades or so it appears that if Petzal quits we will basically have no one to read but us. What the hell we know it all anyway, just ask. At least Dave gets better with age which is more than I can say for Stephen Hunter (try to read his new book).
Thinking back to a topic of some time ago, yesterday I hunted with my friend who bought the 20 ga. RBL Connecticut Shotgun. After handling and shooting it I was very much impressed with the workmanship, materiels, and design which created this masterpiece. He didn't kill more birds than I did with my Benelli but he sure looked better doing it and we're both fairly ugly.

jack

Thanks David.

This will indeed prove a timely companion as I have received this afternoon a (stupidly) large quantity of venison "meat sticks". The first few greasy armfuls have caused the needle to hit the peg on the garlic meter. I will be taking up periodic residence in the 'library' where a compendium of hunting stories will surely help pass the time.

The friend who gave me the jerky confided (weirdly) that his favorite part is the casing. I have good friends - weird, but good.

jack

Another thought here...

I suppose David will have truly arrived Big Time when someone admits to reading his blog whilst en toilette. (No, it's not me - I don't want to risk electrocution.)

Scrap5000

Dave, what the hell, doesn't EVERYONE read your stuff in the bathroom, like I do? I thought that was just a given...

Zach

same here Scrap5000 i thought it was a given

hardwoodjdc

Another great book Is "Hell I was there" by Elmer kieth. Not exactly a bathroom reader but an excellent book about a man who
"lived" his life.

jes

Dave, I don't know exactly what kind of gas you're swelling up with on the can...but it ain't helium....

sarg

Hey Dave, Got to clean out the magazine rack in the bathroom to make room for this, great book. I'll just clean out some of the other Hunting mags., keep my F&S though..

PbHead

Thanks for the heads up Dave. Maybe someday we can read "The Best of Petzal".
Happy Thanksgiving.

ShieldsMT

"Hell I was There" by Elmer Keith is the ultimate bathroom book. Nail it to the wall and tear the front cover off. You'll have a couple weeks supply of TP. You can wipe with exploits of derring do as little Elmer saves Helena from marauders and tells tales of darkies getting whacked in the noodle parlors of Butte. How about walking in 45 rounds from his Peacemaker at a mule deer at umpteen hundred yards.
Now, TGBOHS sounds like a real winner, I'll be ordering it as soon as am done typing this.

WA Mtnhunter

"Hell I was There" was an interesting read, although Elmer may have been a legend in his own mind. LOL

I also thought some of the long shots with the .44 were a stretch of the imagination.

My Black Labrador also enjoyed it one afternoon while left unsupervised in the house!

JasonB

Dave, I'm happy to inform you that my F&S always goes straight to the top of the bathroom drawer, so your stuff is indeed read in our bathroom.

Dr. Ralph

Got my new F&S yesterday it will probably be doing bathroom duty in two or three days. Now it is up front and center in the den where I can gaze upon my fireplace, mantle, and racks when my eyes need a rest.

In fact the magazine missed the fireplace by inches when I threw it after reading "The Ten Best Whitetail Rifles Ever Made" written by David E. Petzal... forget about that "best of all possible worlds" crap I or possibly someone using my alias posted yesterday. The well known fact that he currently carries a turd in his pocket for company has made it increasingly apparent that he was not properly inoculated before his recent trip to Africa... in short the worms are eating his brain. Savage 99 is now the best deer rifle ever produced and the Remington pump beats out any and all bolt actions. The Holy Grail Model 70's are unworthy as are everyone's MOA 700's that have probably killed more deer than anything but a Winchester 94. Including the Remington 600 and Winchester 71 are the first signs of mental illness, Dave get a checkup from the neck up.

sarg

Aother great book, for bathroom or den is the book written by JACK O'CONNORS " THE HUNTING RIFLE", Winchester Press, 1970. Jack believes the way I do(or vice-versa) on the hunting bullet, Entering the animal,expanding to about twice it's size, retaining it's mass but not exiting, at 100yds or 300yrds.Now people talk about their bullets exting, leaving a cavity one could park the family sedan in. Great magazine Dave, keep up he good works....

Jim in Mo

sarg,
I'm still sitting on the fence on the enter exit debate. My '06 will enter and exit and leave a nasty blood trail making tracking easy if necessary. My .35 Rem. enters but rarely exits but tracking isn't hard cause deer usually drop real quick. I guess it all depends on distance.

V.STEPHEN CARBERRY

Amazon sells the book for $16.95. I just bought two, and got free shipping.

Steve




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