Tis the season to shop for that outdoors man or woman in the family — if you haven’t already. So what do you get them? They already have multiple fishing rods and guns. Bullets and lures are too confusing for them so what’s a shopper to do?

As an experienced outdoorsman, I would suggest giving a good outdoor book. Anyone who spends time in the woods can’t resist reading a good hunting or fishing story. And the reader just might pick up some info that will make their next excursion successful. Here are some suggestions for a great gift.

Any book by Patrick McManus is a great read. Mr. McManus is an outdoor humor writer. His numerous books, such as “A Fine and Pleasant Misery,” and “The Night the Bear Ate Goomba” are so funny that you may dislocate a rib while laughing when reading them. Besides being funny, Mr. McManus’s stories offer great insights into human nature. The majority of his books are collections of short stories that often appear in Outdoor magazines. I personally consider Mr. McManus to be one of the greatest writers of the last 50 years.

Aldo Leopold’s timeless classic, “A Sand County Almanac” is required reading for everyone. This book has inspired generations of conservationists to adopt an ethic of caring for the land. Leopold’s year-long chronicle of nature on his farm near the Dells gives great insight into the natural world and how people interact with nature. My favorite chapter of the book chronicles the natural history of Wisconsin. This is one of the most important books written in the last 100 years.

“Whitetail: Fundamentals and Fine Points,” by George Mattis is considered by many to be one of the best books ever written on the subject of deer hunting. Mr. Mattis was an outdoor writer who lived and hunted in Wisconsin’s northwoods. His career spanned over 50 years of outdoor adventure. Mr. Mattis hunted back when hunters actually worked hard, and individual skill was a necessary ingredient for success. Of all the hunting books I’ve read, Mr. Mattis is the only author for whom I thought it would be really fun to share hunting stories over a cold adult beverage.

For the scientific minded shooter,” Understanding Firearm Ballistics,” by Robert Riker, unravels the mysteries of the study of ballistics. This tome covers a wide range of topics from Gyroscopic Stability to Ogive and has more math than a pre-calc class. However, the books is written for the casual shooter so even some one as math challenged as myself can learn a lot. This is a book that one can read 25 times and still be gleaning new information from the pages.

“Path of the Paddle,” by Bill Mason is part instructional guide book and part philosophical tome. This combination makes “Path of the Paddle” one of the premier canoeing books of all time. Mr. Mason developed his legendary skills as a canoeist by running the violent rapid filled rivers of Canada. Mr. Mason shares both his experiences and knowledge in a very engaging book.

So head down to your local book store and get some great reading gifts for that special outdoors woman or man on your shopping list.

Jim Swanson is a

Menomonie resident. He can be reached at


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