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.
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!
"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
Purchase Rifle in Hand on Amazon Smile
"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
"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
Purchase Heart and Blood on Amazon Smile
"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
Purchase Walden on Amazon Smile
"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
Purchase Wilderness Days on Amazon Smile
“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
A new edition of A Sand County Almanac has been released for Earth Day 50 (April 22, 2020). The Aldo Leopold Foundation, www.aldoleopold.org, is offering special introductory pricing of 25% off the cover price of $15.95 and free shipping using coupon code aldo25.
"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
Purchase American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon on Amazon Smile
"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
Purchase Bloodties: Nature, Culture, and the Hunt on Amazon Smile
"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
Purchase That Wild Country on Amazon Smile
"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
Purchase Desert Solitaire on Amazon Smile
"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
"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
Purchase Silent Spring on Amazon Smile
"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
Purchase American Sportsmen on Amazon Smile
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
Purchase American Catch on Amazon Smile
"A carefully selected ensemble of personal essays that dive deep into the motivations and ethics of hunters from different walks of life." -Tim Brass
Purchase A Hunter's Heart on Amazon Smile
"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
"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
Purchase The Western Paradox on Amazon Smile
"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
Purchase American Serengeti on Amazon Smile
"The entire point of hunting and fishing is joy. If we forget that, then we’ve lost it all anyway." -Ben Long
"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
Purchase The Lochsa Story on Amazon Smile
"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
Purchase Two in the Far North on Amazon Smile
"Any sportsman or women, naturalist or lover of wilderness will be captivated by the story and life captured in this book." -Corey Ellis
Purchase Dersu the Trapper on Amazon Smile
"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
"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
"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
Purchase Braiding Sweetgrass on Amazon Smile
"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
Purchase A Shape in the Dark on Amazon Smile
"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
Purchase The Emerald Mile on Amazon Smile
"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
Purchase A Dream in Polar Fog on Amazon Smile
"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
Purchase Beloved Beasts on Amazon Smile
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
Purchase The Island Within on Amazon Smile
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
Purchase Tracks on Amazon Smile.
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
Purchase The Comfort Crisis on Amazon Smile.
"This book deploys a certain magnetic pull." -Ruby Thorstenson, 11 years old
Purchase Echo on Amazon Smile.
"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
Purchase The Book of Yak on Amazon Smile.
"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
Purchase Was It Worth It? on Amazon Smile.
"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
Purchase Our National Forests on Amazon Smile
"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
Purchase Elk, Women, Horses, Yellowstone
"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
Purchase Ballad of a Turkey Hunter
"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
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]