Outdoorsy Books Hold Appeal for Both Cowboys and Hunters

Randall Murphree

Title:  "Good Ol' Cowboy Stories"
Author:  Jack Terry
Publisher:  Harvest House Publishers

Title:  "A Hunter's Call"
Author:  Steve Chapman
Publisher:  Harvest House Publishers

Cowboys and hunters will find two new Harvest House titles appealing for both their stories and their outstanding outdoor art. Artist Jack Terry grew up surrounded by cowboys and canvases, and he combines the best of both worlds in "Good Ol' Cowboy Stories."

Recording artist Steve Chapman spins a few hunting experiences into life lessons and illustrates "A Hunter's Call" with the art of the Hautman brothers. Clearly, these guys are all writing and painting from first-hand encounters.

"Cowboy Stories"

One of today's premiere Western artists, Jack Terry complements his trademark horse-and-rider art with brief stories of real-life cowboys, including Bill Mason, his maternal grandfather, who rode on some of the last great cattle drives out West. Each story is a brief vignette, allowing Terry to include a good number of legendary names as well as some unknowns. Will Rogers, actor Roy Rogers, and Pecos Bill are among the famous.

The less well-known Bill Pickett, a former slave who became the toast of the cowboy/rodeo circuit in the late 1800s, is another subject. Still another is John Stetson, inventor of the tall, wide-brimmed Stetson cowboy hat.

Terry's paternal grandmother was an artist who inspired him in that arena. At age nine, Terry won a blue ribbon for a still life featuring an old cow skull, his grandfather's boot and a Mexican serape. He studied art in various venues and caught his first big break when, at age 26,  he was named bicentennial artist for the state of Texas.

"A lot of my subjects are friends as well as various ranches that friends own," says Terry. "I still like to go out and ride and work cattle. We go on trail drives and round-ups, which provide the perfect opportunity to take lots of pictures. Then I paint my favorite scenes and feature my friends."

Terry and his wife Mary live on their 250-acre ranch near Georgetown, Texas. He says he finishes his morning chores by 8:30 a.m. before going to work in his studio. "We live in the hill country, where we have horses and deer, including exotic deer from different countries – Chinese, African Black Buck, and deer from India."

These days, he looks forward to visits from his five young grandchildren so he can tell them more stories about great-granddaddy Bill Mason, "... a man who would gladly give to a stranger in need, a man who cherished his family, ... a man who loved the land and sky, a man who lived each day with gratitude to the God he met, face to face, under the stars as a young cowboy."

"Hunter's Call"

Even if one isn't a hunter, Steve Chapman's homespun wisdom in "A Hunter's Call" is worth the read, and the art is worthy of the outdoor life the Hautman brothers portray. James, Joe and Bob Hautman capture wild geese in flight, wild turkeys in full strut and deer bounding over a barbed-wire fence with photographic detail. But their work adds an element of emotion and clarity that only a master with the brush can evoke.

"A Hunter's Call" opens with Chapman's characteristic sense of humor. He discusses the virtues of Ben Franklin's proposal to make the turkey, and not the eagle, the national bird. Other tales include accounts of hunting ventures with friends, with son Nathan and son-in-law, Emmitt.

Chapman compares the finer points of whether hunting deer or turkey is more rewarding. The personal illustrations are along the lines of earlier Chapman titles – "A Look at Life From a Deer Stand" and "10 Things I Want My Son to Know."

There's often a pretty clear spiritual parallel. For example, on his first turkey hunt, Nathan suddenly freezes in the open field when he hears his first gobbler's intimidating sound. Dad had to pull him out of sight into the nearby brush. Chapman likens the experience to the way men often freeze when confronted with the unexpected; we are paralyzed by fear or temptation when we should run for cover.

Chapman and his wife Annie are long-time, award-winning Nashville musicians. Focus on the Family founder James Dobson has called them America's musical ambassadors to the family. The Chapmans take their message of the Christ-centered family to fans all over North America.

The Hautman brothers are among the nation's foremost wildlife artists, all three having received numerous honors and awards. Their art has been featured on more than 40 state and federal stamps. These two gift books offer a man a clear choice – vicariously ride the rough and dusty range or settle into a deer stand on a cold winter day. Either appeals to a man's macho nature – as long as his recliner's close enough to the fireplace.

© 2005 AgapePress.  All rights reserved.  Used with permission.