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Sampling of books spotlights outdoors

| Friday, Dec. 1, 2006

There's probably not a hunter anywhere who hasn't dreamed, at one point or another, of being able to take his living from the woods. Philip Tome was a man who lived that dream.

Tome, born in 1782, grew up in the Pine Creek Valley in Lycoming County and spent the better part of his 73-year-life roaming Northcentral Pennsylvania hunting deer, black bears, mountain lions, elk, and wolves for his own use and for the market. He ultimately shared his story in a book called "Pioneer Life, or Thirty Years a Hunter."

Originally published in 1854, the book is again available to sportsmen. Stackpole Books has reproduced "Pioneer Life" in a 173-page paperback edition.

"With the hunter, it is not the destruction of life which affords the pleasure of the chase; it is the excitement attendant upon the very uncertainty of it which induces men even to leave luxurious home and expose themselves to the hardships and perils of the wilderness," Tomes wrote in his book.

There are several other new books sportsmen might want to consider reading during their post-deer season winter, as well.

• "Legendary Hunts" is the title of a book published by the Boone and Crockett Club. Subtitled "Short Stories From the Boone and Crockett Awards," the book tells the tale of 43 hunts that ended with monster animals down on the ground. The record-holding hunters, many of them average people, describe the details of their experiences in their own words. The book contains information, too, on how to enter a trophy for record book consideration and discusses fair chase.

• "The Taxidermist's Son" by Ralph Scherder of Butler County, is a combination of old stories written first for magazines like the "Game News" and new material. They all share one trait: they're folksy recollections of a Western Pennsylvania's outdoorsman's times afield with friends and family. Sometimes Scherder writes of his own experiences, good and bad; at other times he shares memories or growing up around other sportsmen. The 202-page book is full of place names anyone who is familiar with Pennsylvania will recognize.

• "GPS Outdoors: A Practical Guide for Outdoor Enthusiasts" is not meant for hunters alone. Anyone who ventures into the woods, whether to hunt, hike, camp, or fish, can make use of this book. It's not a thick book at just 80 pages, including the 12-page glossary, nor is this a book to while away the hours by the fireplace. What it is is a straightforward, honest guide to understanding what GPS is, what a unit is capable of doing, and how to make it work with a map.

• Anyone that's ever seen the "Pennsylvania Game News" or has an interest in wildlife art has undoubtedly heard of Ned Smith. Smith was born in Millersburg, about 20 miles north of Harrisburg. Though he had to serve as his own teacher, Smith eventually became one of the country's best-known and most respected wildlife artists.

For more than 35 years, his art was featured on the cover of "Game News" magazines. All of those old covers have been compiled in a new book from Stackpole called "Ned Smith's Game News Covers: The Complete Collection." The book offers some text that examines Smith's life, but its real beauty lies in the full-page, full-color images of every "Game News" cover Smith ever made. If Smith's early work seems amazingly simple, even amateurish, in hindsight, that only raises your appreciation for the art he created later in life.

Additional Information:

Where to buy

&#149 'Pioneer Life, or Thirty Years a Hunter,' is available for $19.95 from Stackpole Books. 'Ned Smith's Game News Covers' is available for $24.95. Visit , call 1-800-732-3669, or check local bookstores.

&#149 The Boone and Crockett Club's 'Legendary Hunts' costs $19.95 ($15.95 for Boone and Crockett members) and is available at book stores, by calling 1-888-840-4868, or by visiting .

&#149 'The Taxidermist's Son' costs $21.95 and is published by Rock Springs Press. To get a copy, visit local bookstores, or visit .

&#149 Menasha Ridge Press is the publisher of 'GPS Outdoors,' which sells for $10.95. To get a copy, check bookstores, visit or call 1-800-243-0495.

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