The Jim Posewitz Digital Library: Required Reading for Conservationists

From the post-hunting-season doldrums and winter snows, to the social distancing that is 2020-21, many hunters and anglers have found opportunity to read up on the great conservation stories of our past and successes that led to the hunting and fishing opportunities we enjoy today.

BHA’s Required Reading for Conservationists list began in the Winter 2018 issue of Backcountry Journal and, through its popularity, continues to be expanded upon today. This ever-expanding list of thought-provoking reads provides inspiration, history and fun for the conservation-minded hunter and angler.Photo by Thom Bridge

This library is dedicated to conservation icon Jim Posewitz. Founder of Orion: The Hunter's Institute and author of four books on hunting and hunter ethics including Beyond Fair Chase: The Ethic and Tradition of Hunting, Inherit the Hunt: A Journey into the Heart of American Hunting, Rifle in Hand: How Wild America was Saved and Taking a Bullet for Conservation, Jim Posewitz is an inspiration to all backcountry hunter/conservationists. Learn more about Jim on the BHA Podcast & Blast, where he and host Hal Herring chat about the history of conservation and a whole lot more.

This digital library also exists in our new and growing physical library at BHA Headquarters in Missoula, Montana. We'll add a new title here weekly to the digital library, so be sure to check back often for new reading inspiration! 


Rifle in Hand by Jim Posewitz

"In this book, Jim does a masterful job of telling the American conservation story with those we know well, like Theodore Roosevelt, as well as lesser known contributors to our conservation legacy. We all have a role to play." - Land Tawney 

Read The Complete Review

Purchase Rifle in Hand on Amazon Smile




The Wilderness Warrior by Douglas Brinkley

"This book, despite occasionally uncombed prose, taught me that conservation can transcend partisan sinkholes and be simultaneously patriotic, adventurous, populist, moral and fun." - Nate Schweber

Read The Complete Review

Purchase The Wilderness Warrior on Amazon Smile




Heart and Blood by Richard Nelson

"When I first read Heart and Blood more than 15 years ago, I was still a vegetarian. It fundamentally changed my understanding of hunting and wildlife conservation." -Tovar Cerulli

Read The Complete Review 

Purchase Heart and Blood on Amazon Smile




Walden by Henry David Thoreau

"Thoreau’s writings were some of the first to address issues that began to shift America’s values toward our conservation heritage as we know it today." -Sawyer Connelly 

Read The Complete Review 

Purchase Walden on Amazon Smile




Wilderness Days by Sigurd F. Olson

"Olson captures the sights, sounds, and most importantly, the feeling of wilderness in all its magnificent glory and legend. His writings speak to the importance of wilderness to the human condition, to our mind and spirit. His words are especially calming and reassuring during this time of upheaval and uncertainty (Covid-19 pandemic, April 2020)." -Rob Wunder

Read The Complete Review 

Purchase Wilderness Days on Amazon Smile



A Sand County Almanac

“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.” -Aldo Leopold

Read The Complete Review 

A new edition of A Sand County Almanac has been released for Earth Day 50 (April 22, 2020). The Aldo Leopold Foundation,, is offering special introductory pricing of 25% off the cover price of $15.95 and free shipping using coupon code aldo25.



American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon

"Rinella brings us along in his raft floating through a vast wilderness that is checkerboarded with private land on a modern buffalo hunt. There is potential prosecution and danger around every bend of the river, but will there be a buffalo around one of those bends?" -John Provenzale

Read The Complete Review 

Purchase American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon on Amazon Smile




Bloodties: Nature, Culture, and the Hunt by Ted Kerasote

"Bloodties doesn’t paint hunting in simplistic black and white terms, but instead explores the nuanced colors of gray that each hunter brings to this pursuit we care so deeply about." -Matt Breton

Read The Complete Review 

Purchase Bloodties: Nature, Culture, and the Hunt on Amazon Smile




That Wild Country by Mark Kenyon

"Mark Kenyon takes us on a journey through history by way of a series of personal trips across the U.S. Paralleling his present day experiences in some of the most beautiful and awe-striking landscapes that we own, he addresses the important historical landmarks that made them available to him today." -Kylie Schumacher

Read The Complete Review 

Purchase That Wild Country on Amazon Smile


Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey

"I’d be lying if I said that the writing of Edward Abbey had nothing to do with my young and growing conviction that these lands and waters – places owned in common by us American people – represent our most valuable possession, impossible to replace, easily lost … and worth fighting for." -Katie McKalip

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Purchase Desert Solitaire on Amazon Smile






Grinnell: America’s Environmental Pioneer and His Restless Drive to Save the West by John Taliaferro

"An incredibly prolific writer himself, George Bird Grinnell was a remarkable figure in the history of the American conservation and public lands movements. As advocates for public lands, ourselves, we should not let him be forgotten."  -Renick Seanor

Read The Complete Review 

Purchase Grinnell: America’s Environmental Pioneer and His Restless Drive to Save the West on Amazon Smile



Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

"What I think is most remarkable about the 55-year-old book is its first section, “A Fable for Tomorrow,” and its eery relevance to today’s climate change-stricken world." -Maddie Vincent 

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Purchase Silent Spring on Amazon Smile




American Sportsmen and the Origins of Conservation by John F. Reiger

"It was this sportsman’s code, coupled with an early, un-articulated version of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, on which Grinnell and Roosevelt founded the Boone & Crockett Club in 1887. That began to cement the sportsman's' role as conservationists and, with the power of Roosevelt’s presidency, thrust wildlife into national policy." -Jesse Salsbury

Read The Complete Review 

Purchase American Sportsmen on Amazon Smile





American Catch: The Fight for Our Local Seafood by Paul Greenberg

American Catch is an enjoyable and entertaining read that effectively dives into the topic of conservation, the locavore movement and, perhaps most importantly, speaks directly to the reader about food choice. Why are we eating farmed tilapia from south-east Asia and exporting all our wild caught salmon and tuna? -Aaron Pearson

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Purchase American Catch on Amazon Smile




A Hunter’s Heart: Honest Essays on Blood Sport by David Peterson

"A carefully selected ensemble of personal essays that dive deep into the motivations and ethics of hunters from different walks of life." -Tim Brass

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Purchase A Hunter's Heart on Amazon Smile





A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean

"Written with a wise and earthy prose, this memoir is well-suited to those who love wild spaces, rivers or fly fishing. An American classic and a perfect book matched with any outdoor setting, Norman Maclean’s A River Runs Through It is sure to satisfy." -Jordan Wolf

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Purchase A River Runs Through It on Amazon Smile





The Western Paradox: A Conservation Reader by Bernard Devoto

"The articles and essays in The Western Paradox may have been mostly written in the middle of the last century, but there is a reason the collection was published in 2001: the prominent issues of water scarcity, the myth of the cowboy, the importance of our public lands, how we define nature, the fight between conserving natural resources and exploiting them, and the question of who should profit from the West’s riches are issues that have never been properly settled." -Alexa Metrick

Read The Complete Review 

Purchase The Western Paradox on Amazon Smile




American Serengeti: The Last Big Animals of the Great Plains by Dan Flores

"American Serengeti is packed with fascinating information and insights that will forever change how you look at the Great Plains and the American West ..." -Brien Webster

Read The Complete Review 

Purchase American Serengeti on Amazon Smile




A Fine and Pleasant Misery by Patrick F. McManus 

"The entire point of hunting and fishing is joy. If we forget that, then we’ve lost it all anyway." -Ben Long

Read The Complete Review 

Purchase A Fine and Pleasant Misery on Amazon Smile






The Lochsa Story by Bud Moore

"If you don’t read The Lochsa Story for the history, read it for the conservation lessons. Bud Moore’s reflections on conservation come from intimate personal experience; he was part of both the good and the bad, and possessed a rare ability to reflect critically on his own impacts on the land he loved … something we would all do well to learn from. " -Zack Williams

Read The Complete Review 

Purchase The Lochsa Story on Amazon Smile



Two in the Far North by Margaret Murie

"In a time of so much doubt and uncertainty about the future of our wild places, Two in the Far North will leave you optimistic, with a renewed conviction to fight for the last untouched places on earth." -Kylie Schumacher

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Purchase Two in the Far North on Amazon Smile





Dersu the Trapper by V. K. Arseniev

"Any sportsman or women, naturalist or lover of wilderness will be captivated by the story and life captured in this book." -Corey Ellis

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Purchase Dersu the Trapper on Amazon Smile




The Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan

"North Americans unfortunately have a long history of ecological harm. We also have the great propensity to recognize mistakes and work to fix them. Dan Egan's, “The Death and Life of the Great Lakes” takes us on one such journey." -Trevor Juth

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Purchase Death and Life of the Great Lakes on Amazon Smile



An Archer's Inner Life by Dave Sigurslid

"An Archer’s Inner Life is heartily recommended to readers with an appreciation of craftsmanship, to introspective types, deep drinkers of the nature aesthetic and to those weary souls who put in countless fruitless days with bow in hand just waiting for the quarry to close those last five yards." -Cody Bruce

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Purchase An Archer's Inner Life on Amazon Smile





Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

"There’s a tendency, particularly among non-hunters and non-anglers, to think of what we do as inherently lopsided: all take, no give. And, as an archaeologist, I’m all too familiar with our tendency to think of our species as being entirely separate from all that is 'natural.' Kimmerer makes it abundantly clear neither one need be true. And, if we’re to do right by the public lands and waters that enrich our lives, it shouldn’t be." -Liz Lynch

Read The Complete Review 

Purchase Braiding Sweetgrass on Amazon Smile



A Shape in the Dark

"A Shape in the Dark is a quick read, guaranteed to have you fascinated all the way through and leave you with new perspectives on one of North America’s most captivating wild creatures." -Zack Williams

Read The Complete Review 

Purchase A Shape in the Dark on Amazon Smile





The Emerald Mile

"Emerald Mile will instantly etch its own canyon in your psyche, and you will hear rivers calling you that you could not hear before." -Rachel Schmidt

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Purchase The Emerald Mile on Amazon Smile




A Dream in Polar Fog

"A Dream in Polar Fog forces you to examine your relationship with the land and gives a different perspective on what it means to be a steward." -Jacob Mannix

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Purchase A Dream in Polar Fog on Amazon Smile



Beloved Beasts

"This is not a book about despair or tragic endings. It is not a book of environmental alarmism or an impassioned call-to-action to save the wolves and the whales. It's a concise and carefully researched book about people." -Mike Willis 

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Purchase Beloved Beasts on Amazon Smile





The Island Within

Nelson’s poetic prose won him the John Burroughs Medal for best nature writing in 1991. To me, this book sets the bar for nature writing. -Benjamin Polley

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Purchase The Island Within on Amazon Smile





Tracks: An Animal Tracking Book for Kids

Tracks is a piece of art. I love the ways you can use it, as a quick facts book or a full-on tracking book. -Ruby Thorstenson

Read The Complete Review 

Purchase Tracks on Amazon Smile.






The Comfort Crisis

This is a must-read book, authored by a BHA member, which will leave you seeking more challenge and more frequency for your backcountry adventures. -Zack Williams

Read The Complete Review 

Purchase The Comfort Crisis on Amazon Smile.




Echo: Living Wild with the Orions

"This book deploys a certain magnetic pull." -Ruby Thorstenson, 11 years old

Read The Complete Review 

Purchase Echo on Amazon Smile.





The Book of Yak

"The Book of Yaak is one man’s quest to save the place he loves and calls home, but this book will resonate with anyone who has fought the same battles, regardless of place." -Will Weygint, BHA Member

Read The Complete Review 

Purchase The Book of Yak on Amazon Smile.





Was It Worth It?

"He is a wilderness prophet crying for visions on mountaintops and deep in the jungles. His words are a testament to a man obsessed with the natural world, words the contemporary world needs to pay heed to." -Benjamin Polley, BHA member 

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Purchase Was It Worth It? on Amazon Smile.





Our National Forests: Stories from America’s Most Important Public Lands

"Our National Forests: Stories from America’s Most Important Public Lands takes readers on a journey through arguably America's most important public lands, our National Forests." -Alan Therrien, BHA member

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Purchase Our National Forests on Amazon Smile




Elk, Women, Horses, Yellowstone

"Every once in a while, I read a book that has the power to transport me somewhere else. Writing that is so vivid and emotionally compelling that I feel as though I am there." -Kylie Schumacher

Read The Complete Review 

Purchase Elk, Women, Horses, Yellowstone


Ballad of a Turkey Hunter

"My only regret in reading this book is that I waited until halfway through my season to start it. Now I am forced to wait another year to scratch the itch the Ballad of a Turkey Hunter has uncovered." -Aaron Hebeisen

Read The Complete Review 

Purchase Ballad of a Turkey Hunter






Cracked by Steven Hawley

"If you are a lover of anadromous fish and have always looked at those colossal concrete structures with awe or anger, this book will truly help you understand why we have dams on our landscape, what it would take to replace their value to American society, and the possibility of removing them to restore rivers for future generations." -Travis Bradford, BHA Video Production & Graphics Design Coordinator

Read The Complete Review 







Views expressed by the book authors or reviewers are solely their own and do not represent Backcountry Hunters & Anglers.​


Do you have a suggestion for the Jim Posewitz Digital Library: Required Reading for Conservationists? Send us the book title and author, a write-up about why you like it and its conservation message (100-300 words) and a cover image (if possible) at [email protected]

About Zack Williams

Backcountry Journal editor

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