Howard Delo

I guess I’ve become a whimp when it comes to hunting in cold, wet, rainy weather (except for waterfowl). In days gone by, I wouldn’t miss a beat on days like I just described, but back then, my hunting time was limited so I had to take advantage of the time I did get to be out chasing critters.

I’ve been looking forward to getting out with that new, to me, bolt-action 410-gauge shotgun I recently purchased to try my hand at grouse and/or snowshoe hares. The early morning weather hasn’t been very cooperative of late, however.

So, what do I do when the weather is unfavorable? Besides some small indoor projects I’ve got going, I also like to read. I took a book along on my recent caribou hunt just in case we became tent-bound due to weather or if game spotting was slow.

The book I brought was “Alaska” by James A. Michener. This thousand-page, softcover book begins with a discussion of the land bridge between Asia and Alaska, covering the history of Alaska and her people from the early migration of humans into the land all the way to present-day conditions, touching on, among other topics, the Russian sea otter fur days, salmon fishing, gold mining, oil resource development, and the politics of those times. While mostly fictional, the book portrayed a real sense of what Alaska was and is like today.

I’ve also just finished rereading Jack London’s “Call of the Wild” and “White Fang.” Both works are North Country classics, but be forewarned, they portray life in the North as particularly brutal, harsh, and cruel, especially for the animals. If you’re looking for a lighthearted and happy look at Alaskan wilderness life, avoid these two stories. This same caution also applies to London’s renowned “To Build a Fire” short story.

I read that work several times as a youth growing up in the Lower 48. I think it had an influence on me eventually ending up here in Alaska. However, it’s not a happy story, but in this one, at least, the dog survives!

I also have the complete set of books Teddy Roosevelt wrote about his various hunting adventures in both the western United States and Africa. I’ve read parts of a couple of his western US hunting books and expect I’ll probably get into some of his other books as winter continues.

I have a good selection of wildlife management books from my university days that I like to review occasionally to make sure I haven’t overlooked some important point when participating on the Borough’s Fish and Wildlife Commission or when attending Board of Fisheries or Board of Game meetings.

I have some books on game animal life histories that, given the time and chance, I’ll usually review before heading out on a hunting trip, again, just to refresh my mind about the animal. Sometimes, I’ll pick one up to learn a new fact about the animal or its habitat that I wasn’t aware of before or which I had forgotten over time.

I enjoy reading historical books, either fact or fiction, as well as outdoor oriented story or how-to material. I subscribe to several gun and outdoor magazines and more than a few blackpowder-themed magazines too.

While I read “Shooting Times” and “Guns and Ammo” magazines monthly, by far the two best technical magazines in the firearms world, in my opinion, are “Handloader” and “Rifle” magazines, published by Wolfe Publishing in Prescott, Arizona.

Another gun magazine I enjoy for their unbiased testing and comparison of similar firearms is “Gun Tests.” This periodical is unique in that it doesn’t accept any advertising which might be interpreted as influencing their rating of different firearms in the testing they do.

While I usually read a couple of bowhunting magazines each month, my first love has been muzzleloading and blackpowder cartridge shooting since my teen years. I subscribe to a couple of muzzleloading magazines and one that’s oriented toward blackpowder cartridge guns.

The history of the Rocky Mountain fur trapping and exploration era of the 1800 to 1850 period especially fascinates me. The buffalo hunting era of the 1870’s also holds a special interest in my reading pursuits. These magazines cover not only the lifestyles of those periods but also the firearms and tools used. There’s usually a lot of history retold in their pages as well.

As you can tell, I enjoy reading. Having said that, I still watch too much television. I do enjoy college football!

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