Close-up photo of a male ring-necked pheasant in fall colors

Robert Ruark

“I Wish To Be An Old Man Hunting”

– Michael Patrick McCarty



The Front Cover of Dustjacket of The Old Man and the Boy by Robert Ruark. Photograph by Michael Patrick McCarty
Every Boy Should Have an Old Hunting Man in Their Life


“If Christmas came on the Fourth of July and it also happened to be your birthday, you might have some idea of what a first pheasant is like on a clear, crisp Maryland day, with the hills behind, and the tender-green meadows reaching out to black-green blotches of trees, and nothing very much to do but watch a couple of expert dogs work over the noblest Oriental stranger we have in our midst, while two mellowed old gentlemen do not interfere with a boy’s passionate effort. They were not shooting; they had been there before. It took me another thirty years to find out how much fun you have not shooting if there is somebody else around who wants to shoot it more than you do”. – From The Old Man and The Boy

“Hunting is the noblest sport yet devised by the hand of man. There were mighty hunters in the Bible, and all the caves where the cave men lived are full of carvings of assorted game the head of the house drug home. If you hunt to eat, or hunt for sport for something fine, something that will make you proud, and make you remember every single detail of the day you found him and shot him, that is good too”.

“Deep in the guts of most men is buried the involuntary response to the hunter’s horn, a prickle of the nape hairs, an acceleration of the pulse, an atavistic memory of his fathers, who killed first with stone, and then with club, and then with spear, and then with bow, and then with gun, and finally with formulae”. – From Horn of the Hunter, 1954

“Already I was beginning to fall into the African way of thinking; That if you properly respect what you are after, and shoot it cleanly and on the animal’s terrain, if you imprison in your mind all the wonder of the day from the sky to smell to breeze to flowers – then you have not merely killed an animal. You have lent immortality to a beast you have killed because you loved him and wanted him forever so that you could always recapture the day.” – Use Enough Gun, 1952

“The best thing about hunting and fishing,’ the Old Man said, ‘is that you don’t have to actually do it to enjoy it. You can go to bed every night thinking about how much fun you had twenty years ago, and it all comes back clear as moonlight.”


See our other favorite Robert Ruark Quote at the bottom of our post Here


You May Also Like to Read A Pheasantful of Memories

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