The Hunter’s Canon: Top Books for Western Big Game

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From the earliest tales of the mountain men to current books that detail even the most niche aspects of our sport, hunting has always spawned a vast and rich literary tradition. Over the course of five weeks, we’ll highlight our favorite books and onX Blog posts on Western Big Game, Upland, Whitetail, Turkey, and Waterfowl hunting. As seasons wind down, you’ll have a long reading list to keep you busy through the winter months.

Western big game hunting holds a unique spot in hunters’ hearts. For those in the East, western hunts may be a yearly tradition or a lifelong dream. And for those in the West, every new season is an opportunity to hunt new spots or return to the locations that have produced results for years.

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The books and blog posts detailed below will expand your skills, stoke your imagination, and provide the inspiration you need to plan hunts for the years to come and think more broadly about the role western big game hunting plays in our collective psyche. Start stocking your bookshelf and bookmarking the posts below—winter is a great time to catch up on your reading backlog.

Hunter's Canon Western Big Game Books

Hunt High by Duncan Gilchrist

You’ll have a hard time tracking this out-of-print book down, but it’s worth the effort. Hunt High is full of practical considerations on alpine hunting and camping. More significant, though, is the sense of adventure this book will instill in you. Start your search at a local library—that’s how I found it.

Beyond Fair Chase by Jim Posewitz

Knowing the ins and outs of how animals move or which caliber is most appropriate for a given species is important, but the recently-deceased Posewitz places his focus here on hunting ethically. At around 100 pages, what this work lacks in size is made up in honesty and self-reflection. This is a must-read for every hunter.

The Art of Hunting Big Game in North America by Jack O’Connor

When it comes to big game classics, O’Connor deserves a spot at the top of the list. The Art of Hunting Big Game in North America, along with all of O’Connor’s books and magazine articles, is a timeless work that you’ll find yourself diving into time and time again.

The Complete Guide to Hunting, Butchering, and Cooking Wild Game Volume 1: Big Game by Steven Rinella

This practical guide from Meateater’s Steven Rinella covers everything you might need to know about hunting big game. This isn’t one you’ll read in a few sittings, though. Instead, use it as a reference when specific questions arise. This is the sort of book that can help make you a well-rounded outdoorsman.

Elk Hunting the West the Eastman Way by Mike Eastman

This is Elk Hunting 101, 201, and 301 in one volume—it’s a vast resource for both beginner and expert elk hunters. Read it, then refer back later to brush up on your skills or add another tactic to your quiver. There’s always more to learn, and a lot of what you need to know is here. 

The Hunter's Canon Western Big Game Blogs

Access, Ethics, and Horses: A Conversation With George Bettas

George has done it all, and few men have worked harder to protect and ensure the future of our sport. We spent an afternoon with George in his home in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley, and the conversation here covers everything from George’s interest in pack horses to his days at the helm of the Mule Deer Foundation and the Boone and Crockett Club.

E-Scouting Archery Elk With Remi Warren

Remi is one of the best hunters we know, and his series on e-scouting for archery elk is a valuable resource for anyone who takes to the woods with a bow in hand. Watch his e-scouting videos, then watch them again. They’re worth it.

Plan, Prepare, and Execute a Western Hunt

onX Ambassador Beau Martonik is a Pennsylvania whitetail hunter who made his dream of a western hunt a reality through careful budgeting and a lot of planning. Learn how he did it, then get to work on planning your own adventure.

Get more hunting book recommendations, including books on hunting upland birds, from our experts.

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Christian Fichtel

Raised in North Carolina’s Appalachian Mountains, Christian Fichtel now resides in rural Montana. He is a father, writer, hunter, and fly fisherman.