The Total Outdoorsman Manual: Updated & Expanded by T. Edwards Nickens and the Editors of Field & Stream Magazine is designed to be a one stop resource for the outdoorsman whether he be a novice or experienced. Developed from publishing the magazine for decades, the information contained in this hardback book covers just about everything one would need for any outdoor endeavor. The five detailed sections to this book along with a multipage index are designed for those that don’t want to sit in a camping ground with all the creature comforts of home, but instead go to the backcountry far from people and assistance.
After a forward by Field & Stream Editor Anthony Licata and an introduction by Editor-at-Large T. Edward Nickens, it is on to the sections of the book. The first section is on “camping.” After a brief introduction about the belief by T. Edward Nickens that you can separate campers into two groups–those who do just enough to get by and those who do everything letter perfect the first time (just in case)—it is on to information. From the right place to make camp, making the load of your backpack lighter, rain proofing your tent, proper cooking technique for a variety of situations, and more. This section is all about how to properly rough it while also minimizing your impact on nature. Along with detailed information and tips there are the awe inspiring pictures that make you want to throw down everything and head out the door.
It is worth noting that each section is color coded and the individual pages within a section are not numbered. Instead, the tips are numbered and that same numbering system is used for the table of contents and index.
“Fishing” comes next and starts on page 64 according to the table of contents. After another brief introduction to the section, anything fishing is covered. From tips on how to flip a lure, fly casting, differences between types of reels, various baits, cooking fish various ways, reading the waterway, using the paper knot, and lots more, everything related to fishing is covered here. This includes how to store equipment, fixing your kayak, unhooking yourself (having had some painful experiences with that I would suggest avoiding being hooked at all costs), and how to properly boat or paddle downstream. Both bank fishing as well as water craft fishing of various types is covered in this section.
If you are more into hunting that section comes next with a brief introduction followed by the actual information. Weapons of various types and capabilities are discussed, along with ammunition choices, trajectories, stalking tips, cooking tips and more. Items related to archery are included here. Like in the fishing section there is plenty of information here on how to cook various meats as well as the proper way to field dress and pack your meat out of the wild.
Things can go bad in the wilderness and frequently make national and often tragic news. Many other cases never make news because those involved had survival skills and put them to use. “Survival Skills” is the final and quite possibly the most important section of this book. While there are tips scattered in other sections, this section starting on page 317 covers things such as falling through ice, building a fire in bad weather or by using your binoculars as well as other situations, what you should have in a survival kit, eating road kill or drinking your own urine, navigation by the moon and the stars, making shelter of various types, treating injuries, as well as lots of other topics. It is an important section and one well worth reading as your very survival, as well as anyone with you, may be dependent on the information here.
A four page index along with information on the magazine, credits and acknowledgments bring this book to a close.
With 320 pages in the book The Total Outdoorsman Manual: Updated & Expanded is a wealth of information. It becomes readily apparent that the book could have been designed better. Gathering all the ways of cooking within a section together, duck hunting tips all together, etc., would have made more sense and would have been much more helpful to the user. Instead, interrelated tips on a subject are scattered throughout a section as well as across multiple sections. This results in information, for example, one might consider survival, such as the information on water proof matches, not being located in the survival section, but is found in the camping section. That factor as well as choosing not to number the pages in favor of numbering the tips instead are definite negatives to the book. That being said, the clear and concise information and illustrations, as well as the many photographs, make the book worth your time and an important resource for you and others on your next trip to the great outdoors.
The Total Outdoorsman Manual: Updated & Expanded (10th Anniversary Edition)
T. Edward Nickens and the Editors of Field & Stream Magazine
Weldon Owen Inc. (division of Bonnier as is Field &Stream Magazine)
Material supplied by the good folks of the Plano Texas Public Library System.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2014