December 21, 2009
Petzal: A Last Warning from Sam Curtis
By David E. Petzal
A while back, I wrote about my friend Sam Curtis, who was dying of brain cancer and, knowing he didn’t have long, sent me a knife that he carried for years as a keepsake. Sam was a long-time Field & Stream contributor who began writing for us in the 1970s. On December 17, Sam went to the place were there is always good tracking snow and lots of elk. I liked him as a person, and admired him as a hunter and writer. He was careful, scientific, and relentless. Unlike me he did not care a damn for equipment. He wore an old brown-wool coat with a homemade orange vest and carried a Savage .30/06 with a 4X Leupold scope. I don’t think he owned another rifle.
His friends called him “the iron lung” because he could walk just about anyone into the ground, especially if you were walking up a mountain. However, Sam smoked, and eventually those iron lungs developed cancer and, as it usually does, the cells went elsewhere and in the end they killed him. Sam wrote his own obituary, and I think he would want you to read this part of it:
“I’m Sam Curtis, dead of lung cancer at age 69 after 34 years of not smoking anything. It’s one of life’s little editorial comments.”