Bears are far from cuddly in gripping outdoor anthology

  • Sharon Wootton / Outbound Columnist
  • Saturday, November 18, 2000 9:00pm
  • Life

wYes, humans are on top of the food chain, but as "Man Eaters: True Tales of Animals Stalking, Mauling, Killing, and Eating Human Prey" ($24.95, Lyons Press) points out, sometimes the underdog wins.

Bears get the lion’s share of the book, with stories of humans vs. grizzly, black and polar bears.

The writing is first-rate. "Bears of the Year-Long Day" is a gripping chapter of a trapper and three near-fatal polar bear encounters.

There are enough teeth, fangs and claws for everyone, maybe too many for readers who prefer to see the outdoors through park-colored glasses.

Other wildlife-related books are less scary, and any of them could find their way under someone’s tree or in their stocking on Christmas morning:

  • Lyons Press has released two books of outdoor tales, "The Greatest Fishing Stories Ever Told" and "The Greatest Hunting Stories Ever Told" (both $24.95). Contributors include William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway and Zane Grey. Each of the 57 stories is put into context with an introduction.

    No matter how a reader feels about hunting, John Taintor Foote’s "Dog Upon the Waters" will cut through reluctance with its delivery, storyline and tug on the emotions.

  • J.H. Hall comes from a long line of fishing folk. In a way, he’s still casting his line in "Selling Fish: Stories from a Fishing Life" ($19.95, Stackpole).

    The essays cover the vagaries of fish, fishing before funerals and characters on the water. Although serious about fishing, Hall still sees the humor and tries to understand Maine residents’ prejudices when it comes to fish.

  • Kim Long turns his attention to yet another form of wildlife in "Beavers: A Wildlife Handbook" ($15.95, Johnson). Just about everything a non-scientist would like to know is packed into 192 pages, from facts to folklore.

  • A familiar bird in our area is the star of Charles Preston’s "Wild Bird Guides: Red-Tailed Hawk" ($19.95, Stackpole). There’s enough information here, backed by color photographs, to make a mini-expert out of a reader.

    Still out there on the water, braving the chill but appreciating the experience? Looking for a destination with more protection than Puget Sound?

    Terry Rudnick’s "Washington Boating and Water Sports" ($19.95, Foghorn) can guide you to hundreds of alternatives. He also rates the destinations and gives directions. Lake Whatcom earns a nine (out of 10), Martha Lake an eight.

  • The third edition of "Fundamentals of Kayak Navigation" ($14.95, Globe Pequot) is the paddler’s find-your-way bible written by the director of Starpath School of Navigation. The book is an in-depth semester’s worth of teaching.

  • The second book in the kayaking-with-Eric Jackson series, "Playboating: Moves &amp Training" ($16.94, Stackpole) offers alternative ways of playing in the water.

    Slick pages, excellent color photographs of action sequences, and advice from the man Core Sports magazine called the kayaker of the millennium make "Playboating" a must read if you’re contemplating whitewater action on your own or a future on the rodeo circuit.

  • "Sea Kayaking: The Essential Guide to Equipment and Techniques" ($16.95, Stackpole) is Johan Loots’ contribution to the kayaking reference shelf. In addition to the basics, there’s a good section on planning a trip.

  • Yes, Jack Jackson’s "Scuba Diving: The Essential Guide to Equipment and Techniques" ($16.95, Stackpole) is an introduction-to-diving book but it’s a very well-done one. Illustrated with color photographs (often beautiful ones) and arranged in a clear, easy-to-read fashion, "Scuba" is a great beginner’s book.

  • The next time Mount Rainier calls, read and take along "Mount Rainier: A Visitor’s Companion" ($19.95, Stackpole). George Wuerthner turned out an excellent guide to history, geology, climate, trees, wildlife and activities, all packaged in a slick 230-page book.

    Color photographs and adequate color drawings will help hikers identify fish, birds, amphibians and mammals from bats to mountain beavers.

  • The second edition of the National Outdoor Leadership School’s "Wilderness Mountaineering" ($1.95, Stackpole) provides the same excellent advice as the original.

    Phil Powers offers 240 pages of quality sketches and information that will make your trip into the winter high country a safer one.

    Also in its second edition is NOLS’ "Wilderness First Aid" ($14.95, Stackpole), full of knowledge that you might need while mountaineering. It’s arguably the clearest of the first-aid books for the outdoors.

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