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The Beginner's Guide to Contemporary Upland and Waterfowl Literature

If you believe you're living in the “good old days” of bird hunting right now, pick up one—or many—of these modern-day literary works to keep your favorite memories alive.

The Beginner's Guide to Contemporary Upland and Waterfowl Literature

You might think the golden era of bird hunting has long since passed, but these contemporary writers are currently filling pages with upland and waterfowl stories built to last. (Photo By: Tom Keer)

It’s a bit challenging to buy books in the digital age, isn’t it? There are fewer than ever bookstores to sell new releases, and that makes it hard to find a store with shelves stocked with current titles. Consumer appetites have changed, and their tastes and preferences are more focused on entertainment, self-help, or politics. The digital world has had quite an impact, too.


Be on the Lookout for Books

Once, I asked a friend if he thought the internet was going to be a thing.

“Nah,” he said, “it won’t take off. The web is just a glorified phonebook.”

He was wrong about that, but if you use the web to your advantage, it can be a great resource. A quick Google search or a stroll through Amazon shows a number of upland and waterfowl titles published by contemporary writers. Some are traditionally published through a recognized house, while increasingly more are self-published. The irony of buying a book online is real but buy a Kindle version if you must. It’s a way to keep upland and waterfowl writing alive.  

But if you buy a hard copy, you may have something else of importance. You may have the next rare book sitting on the table next to your favorite reading chair. Buying a book today may be like buying Hemingway’s "The Sun Also Rises" from a bookstore in 1926 or an Elmer Crowell gunning block from a rack in the 1940s. While I’m not a heavy social media user, you will find a lot of these authors on various platforms. You won’t find all contemporary writers online, but many of them are. In that way the digital world is much more than a glorified phonebook. It’s a way to be connected with some of your favorite writers beyond their recent book.

So here are some of my own recommendations. I’m sure I’ve missed more than a few, so pass along your recommendations. I’m always looking for more good writers to read.

classic upland bird and waterfowl hunting books
Pour a nip of something strong and paw through the pages to keep the feathers and flushes running through your mind all year long. (Photo By: Tom Keer)

Contemporary Upland and Waterfowl Writers

Nancy Anisfield: Shotwad: Besides the Point, Reverse Points: Bird Dogs Reconsidered


Rick Bass: Colter: The True Story of the Best Dog I Ever Had

Joel Vance Bobs: Brush and Brittanies

Dave Books: Wingbeats and Heartbeats

Reid Bryant: Training Bird Dogs with Ronnie Smith

Chris Camuto: Hunting from Home

Tom Carney: Among the Aspens, Sun-Drenched Days, Two-Blanket Nights, Bird Dogs and Betty Cakes

Jim Casada: The Greatest Quail Hunting Book Ever

Robert J. Demott: Afield: American Writers on Bird Dogs

Tom Dokken: Retriever Training

Tom Davis: To the Point, Tattered Autumn Sky, Lynn Bogue Hunt

Robert J. Demott: Afield: American Writers on Bird Dogs

Jim Fergus: A Hunter’s Road

Tim Flanigan: Grouse and Woodcock: The Birds of my Life

Mike Gaddis: Jenny Willow, From a Higher Hill

John Holt: Kicking Up Trouble

Tom Huggler: A Fall of Woodcock

Joe Healy: Training a Young Pointer

Jerry Johnson: Hunting Birds, Crazy Old Coot

Lost Branch Sportsman’s Club: Jake Smith, Chris Smith, Jon Osborn, Greg Frey: Northwest of Someplace and Another Day Afield

Jim McCann: Upland Hunting in Alaska

Reb McNally: Chukars Will Shoot Back

Robert Milner: Retriever Training for the Duck Hunter, Retriever Training: A Back to the Basics Approach, Absolutely Positively Gun Dog Training

Eddie Nickens: The Last Wild Road

Mark Parman: Among the Aspens: Northwoods Grouse and Woodcock Hunting

David Petersen: A Hunter’s Heart Anthology

Peter Ryan: Hunting Life Moments of Truth

David Seybold: Seasons of the Hunter

Randy Schultz: Endless October

Christopher Smith: Small Water Waterfowling

Steve Smith: America’s Bird: The Many Faces of Pheasant Hunting, Woodcock Rising

Guy de la Valdene: Making Game, For a Handful of Feathers

Andy Wayment: Idaho Ruffed Grouse Hunting: The Heartbeat of the Woods, Idaho Upland Days

Art Wheaton: Grouse Country

Ben O. Williams: Huns and Hun Hunting, Best Day Yet, Bird Dog: The Instinctive Training Method

Jon Wongrey: A Covey of Tales, Moments of Glory

Bret Wonnacut: A Millionaire’s Dream

Tom Word: None Held Back, A Little Competition, The Ninth Pup

Pat Wray: A Chuker Hunter’s Companion

The venerable Kennel Club recently reported that while trendy, designer dogs are surging in popularity, many Brits are favoring more traditional breeds. In 2020, English setter registrations reached a record low, placing the breed on the organization’s ‘vulnerable category.’ But in 2021, setter popularity roared back, with double the number being registered last year. Let’s hope the same holds true for contemporary books about our favorite subjects. These books will provide value immediately. All you have to do is to sit down, open the cover, and read.  

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