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Home > Magazine > Woodcraft > New Encyclopedia of Outdoor Hook'n'Bullet Skills

New Encyclopedia of Outdoor Hook'n'Bullet Skills
June 28, 2012

It's been, what, decades since a book came along telling us how to do all the various hook'n'bullet sports. What would that have been back then? I'm thinking that only the McClane's books would've done the trick -- and then you'd need both the Hunting and the Fishing encyclopedias.

I'm probably overlooking some worthies -- so lemme know.

Well, it's a new era. TV is involved! "Field & Stream" magazine started up a competition a few years ago called the "Total Outdoorsman Challenge." Dang, it sounds like fun to me! It's grown and has now taken on a "reality show" twist as the winners of regional events are vetted for camera-friendliness before being declared true winners (I guess). But it seems like the shows are only shown on the Outdoor Channel, which we don't get. (Man, I'm missing out on a LOT of hook'n'bullet, I know.)

To go with the Challenge (and the Show), F&S just recently published a hardcover "Total Outdoorsman Manual." It does seem to cover the latest tricks of the whole range of outdoor hook'n'bullet skills. At the same time, I don't think it's meant to be an intro to anything. It assumes basic skills then gives special ideas to give an extra edge. (We just returned our copy to the library.) It's edited by the mag's editor (or a team of unpaid interns?) and it's full color throughout and laid out with totally lively design and artwork. It actually seems like a really good thing. I suppose I prefer a bit more of a BillyBob approach and less shopping to solve problems, but this book shows you how much thinkin' and innovatin' goes on out there in the woods. Dudes who spend a LOT of time out there come up with this stuff.

My uncles used to wow me with their tricks. I'd read every outdoor mag as a kid and they showed me things constantly that I'd never seen in print or even hinted at. Things that worked. They dialed them in to the region where we all lived. That's how lifers roll.

Another angle is that it seems like a lot of GUIDES are winning the regional TOC events. Makes sense. Those guys are GOOD.

...Which points out another huge angle to all this: there's BIG MONEY in outdoor sport that all this talent caters to and is supported by. You say, "Well, duh, Jethro." But I forget all that given my demographic and background. What's fascinating about the money side is that it's as big as NASCAR, and serves the same demographic -- and it's as big as the Kentucky Derby and America's Cup, too -- and serves them as well. There are endless class distinctions and segregators involved, to be sure, but there's likely also a huge middle ground where the lines are blurred since NASCAR folks often also have a LOT of money. Fancy lads fly around the country with their bird dogs. ...While country boys fly around the country with their coonhounds. It takes a lotta cash to make Americky go round!

I have to note that the die-hard magazine to the Regular Joe still hangs in there: Fur-Fish-Game. I suppose it's midwest in bent, coming out of Ohio as it does. I still see it here steadily. I hope it's all over the land, too.

The regional outdoor tabloids that I bump into also seem to cater to the practical minded middling crowd -- even if the ads tempt the readers to break the bank the same as any glossy mag.

But Field&Stream knows how to entertain. And their new Manual covers the bases better than anything else out there that I know of.

F&S is the King Survivor among NYC Mad Men general interest outdoor mags. Sports Afield tried to OYBify itself a decade ago and for awhile included bikes and skis and "how to get 6-pack abs" then went belly up. (Ouch! The generalist in me still hurts. But at that rarified Madison Avenue elevation any misreading of the tea leaves will put you on the curb.) I don't know if Outdoor Life can be called competition anymore -- it seems a shadow of its 1970's self. The specialty outdoor mags seem as plentiful as ever, though.

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