John Madson


The Elk, 1966; And The White-Tailed Deer, 1961. By John Madson. Both Published By Conservation Department, Winchester-Western Division, Olin Mathieson Chemical Corporation, Winchester-Western Press. Drawings By Charles Schwartz. From the Collection of Michael Patrick McCarty
Some Vintage Madson


As an impressionable young boy with the early stirrings of an outdoor writer on the brain, I was completely captivated with the descriptions of wild game and even wilder country delivered up by a long list of sporting sages and talented scribes.

Unfortunately, I never met any of those writers’ personally, but they always showed up, like clockwork, by subscription, in the folds of the top sporting magazines of the day.

Still, you might say that they were my heroes…, role models all, and my inspiration to follow the outside path for the many decades since.

I owe them all a debt of gratitude, and almost no one more than this gentleman named John Madson. He is without a doubt one of the reasons that hunting and the lives of the hunted became such an important part of my life, and probably one of the contributing factors for my endless need to throw down some words in the general direction of the beckoning page.

The man, however, is a very hard act to follow, though I am quite sure that he would have encouraged me to try.

His stories always had a certain pizzazz, that indelible flare, like a canvasback bull careening hard and tight out of a darkening sky. His thoughts on elk hunting, for example, may be some of the finest words on the subject to have ever been strung together. I have never forgotten the rocky mountain scene that he set so perfectly before me, and I became an elk hunter on that day, though it would be many years before I ever laid my own eyes’ on one.

Reading a Madson article was always the next thing to being there, although I hadn’t really been there for the first time, yet. But I would be there, for sure, and no griz or giant bull moose could ever keep me from arriving.

I have Madson to thank for that.

Maybe, just maybe, you could say the same thing too!


Michael Patrick McCarty


Here are just a few quotes by the man himself, all taken from Out Home, 1979:


“Hunting is one of the last genuine, personal adventures of modern man. Just as game animals are the truest indicators of quality natural environment, so hunting is the truest indicator of quality natural freedom”.


“There are two times that are best. One is when you’re thirteen years old, walking home with your .22 and three rabbits and meeting the prettiest girl in the seventh grade. The other is the gruel winter evening when you’re about done in and you see the kitchen window of home glowing across crusted snow, and you walk down a path of lamplight to where mother is waiting for supper”.


“Whitetails aren’t often hunted in real wilderness. They are often hunted in the tamest of farmlands. But even in a horse-weed patch at the edge of a cornfield, a deer lends special wildness to the land so that wherever the deer is found, it is truly a wild place. Deer carry wilderness entangled in their antlers; their hoofprints put the stamp of wildness on tame country”.


“It is likely, and appropriate, that a coyote will use the bones of the last man as a scent post. Beyond that, its just as likely that the bones of the last coyote will be picked clean by a Crow…And at the end, when Crow follows the long procession of species out of a world grown cold under it’s dying sun, he’ll exit laughing.”


You can find a marvelous article entitled: John Madson: Words for at Least a Thousand Years, by Gary Lantzhere.

Read more about Madson’s life here.

You Might Also Like Some Quotes By Aldo Leopold

-From The Top Illustration:

The Elk, 1966; And The White-Tailed Deer, 1961. By John Madson. Both Published By Conservation Department, Winchester-Western Division, Olin Mathieson Chemical Corporation, Winchester-Western Press. Drawings By Charles Schwartz.

We sometimes have a copy or two in our used bookstore inventory. Please email if you would like to purchase.

Where The Sky Began: Land of the Tallgrass Prairie (Bur Oak Book) (Paperback)

Since its publication in 1982, Where the Sky Began has become a landmark in environmental literature. Much of today’s interest in the preservation of native grasslands was sparked by this classic work. In it author John Madson celebrates the tallgrass prairies that built some of the world’s richest soils. He evokes brilliantly “this light-filled wilderness of sky and grass, ” the flowers that bloom head-high, the large and small creatures living in and on the grass, and the “great weathers.” Today, wild prairie is the rarest of all original landscapes – and one of the most beautiful. In this revised edition, John Madson has expanded his account of “People Pastures” to include studies of prairie restorations. “Be patient, ” he advises, “have faith, and don’t mind the dirt under your fingernails.” New appendixes give sources for prairie seeds, plants, and restoration expertise. They also list existing and projected tallgrass prairies.

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A Journal of Wild Game, Fighting Fish, and Grand Pursuit