Fact: Books make great Christmas gifts. Proof: Many kinds of books realize almost all of their sales during the Christmas buying season.
For the outdoors person, books can fill the winter lull with hours of vicarious adventure. And the evenings indoors can be a time for learning about our outdoor sports.
This is the umpteenth annual Post-Dispatch Christmas books list for outdoorsmen. The 1994 edition could be called the Year of the Deer because of all of the fine works on whitetails. These are feasts for hunters and everybody else facinated by this amazing animal.
This is also the year that marks the strong return of the coffee-table outdoors book. The color pictures, the slick paper and the color reproduction are excellent. And prices less than $50 demonstrate that technology has lowered the price of quality book production.
Also on the list are titles for anglers, including one for flycasters, long blessed with a wonderful literature.
Many good books published this year were left off the list because there wasn't room.
My favorite? If your outdoors person doesn't have it already, be sure to get Michael Frome's national parks guide. Among the deer books it's almost a tossup between Bauer and Biggs, with a tilt toward Bauer because of slightly better writing and printing.
"Whitetails, Behavior, Ecology, Conservation," by Erwin A. and Peggy Bauer, 160 pages, 120 color photos, folio, Voyageur Press, 123 N. Second Street, Stillwater, Minn., 55082-5002 (800-888-9653) $35.
The title sounds like this is a technical manual, but it is far from that. Erwin and Peggy Bauer have produced a masterpiece, a staple for the library of all who enjoy whitetail deer. The pictures, some taken in Missouri, are beautiful and incredibly varied, the text is readable and intensely interesting.
"Amazing Whitetails," By Mike Biggs, 192 pages folio, TPW Inc., P.O. Box 330787, Fort Worth, Tex., 76163. (800-433-2102) $39.95 Any one of a dozen or more pictures in this fine book would be a lifetime photo for most photographers.
Biggs spent thousands of hours in blinds studying and photographing deer. His work has appeared in all the major magazines and many books, and now 329 color shots - with interesting, useful text - are compiled in this attention-grabbing coffee-table volume.
"Whitetail Autumn," by John J. Ozoga, 160 pages, 120 color photographs, 8 X 10 inches, Willow Creek Press, P.O. Box 881, Minocqua, Wis., 54548 (800-850-9453), $35.50.
This is the first of a four-volume series entitled Seasons of the Whitetail. The pictures are great, the text is good and the presentation quite accessible. It's a shame this had to come out in the same year as the two volumes above.
"Trophy Whitetails of Illinois," edited by Timothy D. Walmsley, 196 pages in 6 X 9-inch hardcover, T & W Production Company Inc., 1815 Commonwealth Ave., Decatur, Ill. 62521.
Illinois has always produced big deer, and this little volume tells about them with black & white pictures, text and lists. The flyleaf describes his volume as "a book of the Illinois Big Buck Recognition Program . . . as compiled from data in the Illinois Department of Conservation files."
"Duck Calls of Illinois, 1863-1963," by Robert D. Christensen, 200 pages, folio, 515 color and black and white photos, Northern Illinois University Press, 320 A. Williston Hall, DeKalb, Ill., 60115, $65 cloth, $150 for numbered, signed, leather-bound.
The first purchase anyone interested in duck calls should make is not a duck call but this gorgeous coffee-table book.
Illinois always has been a hub of duck hunting and call making, and all of the major carvers are covered here by Christensen, avid collector and founding vice-president of the Callmakers and Collectors Association of America. This book, loaded with anecdotes, old pictures and history, is almost as much fun as a day on the marsh. …