Idaho Elk, Mule Deer and Black Bear Blog

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Winter Book Review: Elmer Keith’s Big Game Hunting

Over much of the country we’re in the dead of winter now, with cold winds, deep snow, and bitter people to deal with. Next hunting season feels so far away. I can think of no better approach to stay focused on hunting and cope with nasty winter weather than to find a warm, quiet place and get absorbed in some good hunting literature; and, no other hunting book is more fitting to the Northern Rocky Mountain region than Elmer Keith’s Big Game Hunting.

Although Keith is most famous for handguns and big-bore rifles, what really keeps me coming back to this book year after year is Keith’s acute observations of nature. Elmer Keith was a superb naturalist, though he’s not necessarily as renown for it as he should be. If you want to enhance your knowledge of the game animals inhabiting Idaho, this is the book to read. Many of the stories in the chapters on elk, mule deer, pronghorn, and black bear take place here in Idaho, including hunts in the North Fork, Middle Fork, and main Salmon River drainages, the Selway, Lochas, and Clearwater drainages, and the Flathead drainage in neighboring Montana.

Elmer Keith’s Big Game Hunting not only informs you of animal behavior, but also provides useful information on wilderness camping, packing, woodcraft, and of course there’s plenty to read on guns, bullets, and shot placement. The chapters on “How to Look for Game”, and “Still-Hunting” are timeless. Keith’s writing draws from years of hands-on experience as a cowboy, wrangler, hunting guide and guided hunter. Every time I read this book I pick-up some useful bit of information on game, or I am reminded of something I recently observed in the field, but hadn’t fully noted yet. Whether you’re planning a DIY, drop camp, or guided hunt in Idaho this fall, understanding the game animals you’re after is key to consistently filling your tags.

Good hunting,

Joe Cavanaugh

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