June 11, 2012
Book Review: 'Guns and Hunting' by Finn Aagaard
By David E. Petzal
Right at the top of the list of people I wish were still among us is Finn Aagaard, who departed for happier hunting grounds 12 years ago. He was a neat guy, and one of the very few of our profession who is defying Jim Carmichel’s dictum that there’s nothing deader than a dead gun writer.
Finn’s writing is like that of Jack O’Connor—another exception to the rule. It contains a ton of experience, great common sense, strong opinions, and humor. This book, which is a compilation of his articles for The American Rifleman, is a 302-page jewel that covers cartridges, rifles, scopes, and hunting in general. It also contains an excellent and insightful foreword by John Barsness which is must reading for anyone who wants to truly appreciate Finn.
Aagaard was no fan of high tech, and would not care for much of what is being flogged today by the gun biz. He liked Mauser actions, old cartridges, and low-power scopes. He did not believe in shooting at long range, since the job of a hunter, if he is really that, is to get close.
Finn governed himself by a strict code of ethics. He detested the idea of shooting something for amusement. If you were going to eat it, you could pull the trigger, but otherwise, no. Once, we came upon a tank (a Texas term for a livestock pond) filled with snapping turtles of a size not seen since dinosaurs walked the Lone Star State. I picked out a reptile the size of a triceratops and raised my rifle.
“Don’t,” he said, and fixed me with a glare filled with the Wrath of the Northmen. I didn’t. And I didn’t bring up the idea again.
He was also thorough. Once, as preparation for a seminar in which he was to speak on bullet placement, he shot an aoudad (I think), cut away one side of the animal, and took photos of where everything was located. No diagrams for Mr. Aagaard.
But above all he was a fine, clear writer who also knew how to tell a story and who knew what he was talking about, and you just can’t do better than that. Guns and Hunting is $34.95 from safaripress.com.