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Death in a Lonely Land: More Hunting, Fishing, and Shooting on Five Continents
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Death in a Lonely Land: More Hunting, Fishing, and Shooting on Five Continents

4.5 31
by Peter Hathaway Capstick, Dino Paravano (Illustrator), Don Causey (Foreword by)

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Following the smashing success of Last Horizons (SMP, 1989), Peter Capstick now presents a second volume of pieces culled from such magazines as Outdoor Life, NRA's American Hunter, Guns & Ammo, and Petersen's Hunting. The articles showcase a literary style that prompted Kirkus Reviews to say of Last Horizons, "No


Following the smashing success of Last Horizons (SMP, 1989), Peter Capstick now presents a second volume of pieces culled from such magazines as Outdoor Life, NRA's American Hunter, Guns & Ammo, and Petersen's Hunting. The articles showcase a literary style that prompted Kirkus Reviews to say of Last Horizons, "No one since Hemingway (with the possible exception of Ruark) has written on these subjects with such literary gusto."

The stockbroker-turned-outdoorsman recalls his days as an African pro hunter in "The Killer Baboons of Vlackfontein." "Four Fangs in a Treetop" records a foray into British Honduras for the jaguar, "a gold-dappled teardrop of motion." Capstick narrowly escapes the Yellow Beard, Central America's deadly tree-climbing snake, and cows "The Black Death (Cape buffalo) in the kind of article that makes this author "the guru of American hunting fans" (New York Newsday). On Brazil's forsaken Marajo Island, he bags the pugnacious red buffalo, which has the "temperament of a constipated Sumo wrestler and the tenacity of an IRS man."

The author discusses 12- and 20-gauge shotgun loads; recalls the pleasures of "biltong" (African beef jerky); describes the irresistible homemade lures of snook fishing expert John Gorbatch; and kills a genteel take of Atlantic salmon with the brilliantly simple tube fly.

Over thirty gorgeous drawings by famous wildlife artist Dino Paravano make this volume yet another collector's item by a writer who "keeps the tradition of great safari adventure alive in each of his books" (African Expedition Gazette).

Peter Capstick's eight prior titles include The Last Ivory Hunter (SMP, 1988); Peter Capstick's Africa (SMP, 1987); and Death in the Long Grass (SMP, 1978).

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Vintage Capstick: sleek, fast, and funny.” —Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
From his articles published in sporting magazines during the past two decades, Capstick gathers material for a collection that packs technical pieces on guns and ammunition plus lively stories about fishing and big-game hunting. In the most controversial essay here, he defends wholesale slaughter of marauding baboons in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). He takes us pigsticking in Argentina; hunting the red buffalo, the most dangerous of all game animals, in Amazonia; snook fishing in the Gulf of Mexico; and salmon-fishing in Iceland. All is delivered with a light touch. Capstick advocates the use of a BB gun on a regular basis to sharpen eye-hand coordination; he offers recipes for biltong (jerky). The book is proof that the Great White Hunter is alive and well. (Feb.)

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
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6.14(w) x 9.21(h) x 0.75(d)

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Death In A Lonely Land




It is my personal belief that if a man forsakes the great days and "toys" that brought him a wonderful childhood, he would be foolish to start taking himself seriously and forget those same things that brought him the joy of youth as he grows a bit longer in the fangs. Of course, we have to contend with the Bible, which suggests that a man must do away with childish things, but I really don't think BB guns were part of the message. The joy of shooting and teaching the shooting arts must be eternal. After all, who taught David to use his sling?

I'll not bother to give the source of the idea that the only difference between men and boys is the cost of their toys. But if you show me a man who takes himself seriously, you will usually find that he's missing a great deal of his own heritage.

So many times now, I have said that shooting is a state of mind, whether with a $50,000 Holland & Holland Royal grade double rifle or the Daisy or the Crosman. To sneer and be "above" such juvenile pleasures comes right off the limit of your moral credit card. What, after all, is the shooting life all about? I believe it is to have fun. So, go on. Take a couple of shots. I'll bet you remember things gladly that were long forgotten ... .

It was just the other day, a bright, clear Southwest Florida morning replete with dueling mockingbirds, soft, rising sea breezes and loafing, poison-green chameleons in the hybiscus when my wife wearily asked me what I wanted to be when—and if—I grew up. Possibly the fact that I had just spilled half a pack of BBs with improved cylinder distribution over the kitchen vinyl had something to do with her query, but then you never really know about women's motives.

She gave me one of those sideways looks (probably searching for an artery near the surface) and held the dustpan, all the while observing that she has three children: her son, daughter, and me. I wasn't really listening, struck by the curious fact that neither Daisy Super Accurate Precision Ground Bullseye BBs nor Crosman Perfectly Round Micrometer Tested Super BBs tend to make the apparently simple transition between broom and dustpan edge without slickly rolling at right angles to pour back under the dishwasher. The other dishwasher, that is. I am applying the empirical processes to this phenomenon, possibly a matter of sectional density or, conceivably, an aberrant ballistic coefficient. Then, it could be that my broom handle needs one-quarter inch more drop at the heel or that the dustpan has a poor wood-to-metal fit and should be glass-bedded.

Despite being six foot eight and having a sense of humor like Irving R. Levine, my wife is really a good woman at heart. She never beats me where it shows in public, sees to my nourishment with astounding zeal, and has seen to it that I am never guilty of Ring Around the Collar. Yet she is a woman and, by genetic selection and sexual definition, suspicious as a low-water brown trout anytime she catches me edging out the back door with a BB gun, muttering and woe-is-me-ing under my breath that I am not really going out to have a crashing good time playing Rover Boys but am, in fact, a serious firearms journalist on a bona fide research project. I flash my press card at her and stand firm. At least reasonably firm. I am working. Employed. Assaying the dizzy heights of semi-solvency.I don't wander around all morning plinking at things and shooting up the new phone book for penetration tests because I like it. God forbid! It's dirty, dangerous work. I would infinitely prefer cleaning out the garage or playing human fly washing the upstairs windows for the party next Friday. But, A Man Sees What Must Be Done and Does It. Like all gun writers, I have a very deep-seated sense of professional responsibility. I am also completely bananas over BB guns of any description, the affliction being known, dependent upon your choice of clinical nomenclature, as either the Red Ryder Syndrome or Crosman's Disease.

Like most of you Faithful, my first frontal assault on the world of shooting was with a Daisy. If I'd gotten a nickel an hour for the time spent stalking mastodons and king cobras down by the frog pond and wandering the nomadic, after-school woods aglow with the sense of satisfaction that only the dry rattle of a full BB reservoir can bring, I'd likely now be living off a stable of municipal bonds on my private Greek island.

There have been a lot of vodka martinis over my inlays since that first lever-action Daisy, yet I can still remember every nick in its authentic hardwood stock, including the magnificent hand work I did engraving my initials in bas-relief with a Christmas-new X-acto woodcarving knife kit. When I was finished, halfway through the crossbar on the H, they were able to wire up the tendon of my left thumb quite neatly, although it played hell for years with my flipper reflex on the pinball machines. That rifle, after spitting what must have been a half-ton of BBs, somehow got laid aside and is undoubtedly resting, fossil-like, somewhere in the primeval plasto-metallic sludge spawned by the debris of the culture of Montville, New Jersey. Helluva shame. If you can find it, I'll trade you even for a new Holland & Holland Royal.

When I was nine, I graduated to the Daisy pump gun, a real magnum after the old lever action. But I never liked it that much because all the trajectories and Kentucky windage wired into my circuits were negated by its greater power. It was also trickier to load and didn't have the vast magazine capacity of the lever gun. I went back to the saddle gun with its loop of gen-u-wine rawhide knotted about the ring on the side of thereceiver, the purpose of which accoutrement I never did fathom, except that Red Ryder and Little Beaver both thought highly of it. Later, about the time I was paroled from reform school for conspiring to overthrow the School Board by force, I got one of the fancy hammer versions, the Buffalo Bill Scout. Zowie! I still shoot it in fits of beloved melancholy.

Actually, the use of a BB gun on a regular basis is one of the best possible ways to keep sharp the hand-eye coordination necessary when hunting with either a rifle or a shotgun. Just as snow skiing transfers to water skiing, so does the BB gun transfer many talents to firearms use. Want to teach your son or daughter the elements of lead for wing shooting? Have them spend a few hours popping away at dragonflies or firing at chips of wood in a fast-flowing stream. Even the U.S. Army has found the little guns a valuable training aid for the instinctual act of combat firing, teaching recruits to hit thrown lead washers and smaller items in the air with BB guns that have had the front and rear sights removed.

BB guns have come a long way, baby, since the early push-pull, click-click models of my wasted youth, let alone since their introduction by Daisy back in the 1880s. Recently, I got stuck into the subject again after combing through the sleek new offerings in the rear sections of the Guns & Ammo Annual, and decided to pick an example of the newer developments in the field for evaluation. Completely disregarding the ultra-sophisticated grouping of match and high-performance pellet guns, I settled almost arbitrarily on a new air gun by Crosman, the multi-stroke Model 760XL. Oops! I do beg your collective pardon, Messrs. Crosman; I meant the Model 760XL Deluxe Powermaster with "Deluxe Styling!" and even "Deluxe Features," no less.

Wow! I'll give you this, boys: if you're used to a double beef Whopper, hold the onions, extra cheese, the creature that lay before me was a double helping of larks' tongues on Beluga caviar with Tasmanian leatherwood honey sauce. If that was what BB guns have come to, then I may have been naive about the relationship between Red Ryder and Li'l Beaver. If I'd had that gun when I was fourteen, I would have been the first kid on the block to rule the earth.

No two ways about it, the 760 is a mean, sexy-looking machine that is really far more than a BB gun in the sense I normally think of one. First off, it's a hybrid between a repeating BB rifle (Imagine! Rifling! Ten lands!) and a single-shot pellet rifle offering a wide choice of power selections, depending upon how many times you pump it, between a minimum of two strokes and a maximum of ten. Why not eleven, or for those of you who strike without closing cover, even twelve?

Well, I've put it off long enough. If you're a gun writer, you just have to take the terrible dangers inherent in the profession as part of the price of earning the tremendous fees we command for these high-risk articles. I picked up the gun in my bare hands and hefted it. (Incidentally, there is a common misconception among anti-gun folk that guns are "slimy." This is not true. They are simply smooth and cool to the touch.) Having determined from the owner's manual precisely which was the "barrel" and which the "stock," I located the Reservoir Loading Port, which, for the sake of keeping this whole thing professional, I shall call the RLP. Having cleverly decided to try the repeating BB action first, I cracked the milk carton of 1,500 Crosman Super BB Perfectly Round Micrometer Tested ammo (SBBPRMT). I took their word for it that it was not just 1,499. Careful not to point the muzzle at anybody I did not want to shoot, I put the gun on "SAFE" and attempted to pour 180 SBBPRMTs through the -inch RLP. After several minutes and the application of some language our younger readers might think unsporting, I got enough in to at least cause some trouble. Ah, but if you think that's all there is to foddering the 760XL, you didn't read the manual. Next, you must transfer, untouched by human hands, eighteen SBBPRMTs to the Visual Magazine (VM), from the R of the RLP. At this I proved expert. The VM is a space that runs along the top of the receiver and acts as the receptacle for the immediate shots to follow, if, of course, I don't screw this thing up. To get the BBs into the VM, you must find the BB Retainer Button (BBRB) and pull it rearward. You then, even if it seems a bit inconsistent, point the gun downward (watch those feet) and shake and twist the rifle as if stirring a super Saturday night bucket of thirty-to-one martinis (Stolichnayavodka, of course). To discourse openly on just why I found this simple would not be seemly. You then push forward the BBRB, which locks in its load of eighteen SBBPRMTs. It's like being halfway to paradise.

You are now, and please don't be overanxious, ready to pump. I'm not going to tell you again how many times because we need you here at G&A, and those subscription cancellations don't do much for my rates. I will advise you, however, that Crosman lists three Shooting Safety Zones, cleverly, A through C. Two to four pumps will throw a pellet or BB 250 yards, which is Zone A. The B Zone is 450 yards, which requires five to ten pumps and, right, I didn't believe it either. Zone C doesn't exist because you can't pump more than ten times. Don't you just love it?

I decided that five pumps would be sufficient to qualify for hazardous-duty rates, which I accomplished with only one, though large, blood blister. Now, carefully avoiding Gramps, the big dog, the suburban split-level, and Mom's new Aspen, I gently worked the bolt. Nope. No BB. Checking page six, I discovered that the rifle must be pointed downward for the magnetized bolt tip to contact a BB in the VM and pull it forward into the chamber. Giddy with accomplishment, I was now ready to fire away!

Laying my firm jaw against the poly-god-knows-what plastic Monte Carlo stock with the "cheek piece that gives the XL a distinctive sporty look," I focused steely, unwavering eyes over the adjustable-for-elevation-and-windage rear sight and centered the hooded (presumably for jungle conditions) front post in its proper notch. Off went the safety as I eased into the creepy 2¾-pound pull. FFFap! barked the 760XL Deluxe Powermaster. Clank! went the center of a Coke can on a log ten yards away, twisting on its axis and toppling to the forest floor. I picked it up and whistled. Right through. In one side and out the other. Pretty impressive, considering this is not an article about the .600 Nitro Express. Up went some paper for grouping, and on went the shooting glasses in case of a ricochet. If you pooh-pooh this, drop a BB from shoulder height on a piece of stone tile and you will find it more lively than a golf ball.

Through the afternoon, I found that the pellets, which are loaded singly through the bolt, gave better performances accuracy-wise, but I preferred the ease of loading the BBs. I've had the gun for a week at this writing, and must give it full marks for what it is supposed to be, a fun gun, but with vastly expanded potential for circumstances requiring greater range and power. Perhaps I have been overly cruel, kidding about the literature, which would be unfair to the gun itself. I think it's a real beaut—accurate, handsome with its spacers and brass-plated receiver—and personally endorse it to the extent of my experience with it, which would include no malfunction at all when instructions were followed. On the Tepeco Speed-Meter sky-screen chronograph, alternating between BBs and pellets, varying the number of pumps from two through ten, muzzle velocities ranged from 202 fps through a very impressive 671. The suggested list price for the 760XL (what do you suppose XL stands for?) is about $43, although in the couple of months before you read this, it may be quoted in Krugerrands.

After looking over the current crop of air guns of all types, it's pretty obvious that there is still no shortage of small boys of all ages in this country, and that's fine by me. Backyards and camping trips just wouldn't be the same without the BB gun, as far as I'm concerned. I know that just as soon as I get to be a real fireman, I'm going to carry my Crosman 760XL right on the truck with me. If my wife will let me.

Copyright © 1990 by Peter Hathaway Capstick.

Meet the Author

After leaving Wall Street, the New Jersey native hunted in Central and South America before going to Africa, where he held pro hunting licenses in Ethiopia, Zambia, Botswana, and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Capstick has also served in that most perilous of trades-- Elephant and Buffalo Cropping Officer.

Peter Capstick has long made his home in Africa, the source of his inspiration.

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Death in a Lonely Land: More Hunting, Fishing, and Shooting on Five Continents 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
YoyoMitch More than 1 year ago
A friend gave this book to me, as we have a shared interest in Tales of Adventure and of becoming one of Those Who Have Them as a Profession.  I have not hunted, to any significant extent in over 30 years, the only hunting writer I have read to any appreciable extent is Patrick McManus (he is hilarious) so I was uncertain as to how well I would connect with stories of hunting big game, months long safaris and professional fishing.  As it turns out, reading this book was more fun than a new bicycle on a summer day. The late Mr. Capstick, self-described “Professional Little Boy,” was a professional hunter in an age when such were common enough to merit a professional organization.  His experience as a “gun writer” for various hunting magazines offered him means and occasions to develop the skill necessary to survive hunting the most dangerous animals on the planet in places that cone be best described as “inhospitable” (deadly snakes, piranha, bugs that carry diseases yet to be named, etc.) and the skill to relate those incidents in sharp detail.  His writing is clear, crisp, engaging and exciting – so much so that I felt I was present as he (we) sat in a blind next to a tributary of the Amazon hunting Jaguar.  After he precisely described the experience of a deadly viper suddenly taking up space in the same blind, I was even more delighted to only have experienced the hunt separated by 40 years and the written word. The stories vary in locations from Florida, to Brazil, to the Heart of Africa and the quarry from Big Cats, to killer Orangutan, to wounded Water Buffalo, to Dragon Flies.  His writing is polished, allowing the reader to experience the intense heat and humidity of the Amazonian Jungle, the chill of sitting in a New Jersey duck blind in November and the salty air of Snooker fishing in Florida with a near physical depth. To pick one story to be the best, of the 23 gathered in this collection, is difficult.  As an individual who loved his BB gun when he was a boy, the story of Mr. Capstick’s Machine BB gun has the lead for “Story Best Able to Cause Intense Envy in Male Readers.”  This story details his helping to develop the first automatic BB gun, which he had mounted on the deck of his Lake Okeechobee home.  As I read this, I imagine a perfect place for a mount on my second-story deck.  My least favorite was “Four Fangs in a Tree Top,” the story of the author winning a bet by “bagging” a Jaguar in South America.  Apart from the now endangered animal being further depleted, sitting through the tale of a Barba Amarilla (Yellow Beard), one of the deadliest snakes in that part of the world, falling into the blind, at night, in the deep jungle, is the stuff of nightmares, not hobby. I hope to read other of Mr. Capstick’s books.  According to the bibliography in the early pages of the book, he penned a small library.  The book will probably not appeal to folks who do not hunt or who are uninterested in (or opposed to) firearms as tools.  There are graphic descriptions of animals being killed in the telling of some of these stories.  Mr. Capstick made his living hunting, as such he cared deeply that the animals he seeks are healthy, the population not hunted to total exhaustion and that those killed are dispatched swiftly and as painlessly as possible.  For those who like to hunt, or read good adventure tales, one could do far worse than this writer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A miss leading title. Of the 78 pages only 31 address the events at Sandyhook, the rest are shameless self promotion. Further, this is presented as a factual account of events yet is in fact an strongly worded anti-gun treatise. It becomes painfully apparent that the author neither understands firearms nor what would constitute effective screening of psychopaths. His solution is both unworkable and dangerous. This reviewer supports screening that would effectively eliminate those of questionable mental or emotional stability from the use of ANY weapon, axe, knife, sword, chemicals, explosives as well as firearms. The authors solution are not only poorly considered mechanically, but he fails to provide any "screening" methodology or criteria. He reminds me of the Ostrich solution to serious problems. If we stick our heads in the sand and adopt overly simplistic single approach solutions the problem will disappear. As we have learned many times throughout history violence behavior requires carefully measured responses, NOT capitulation or appeasement nor ineffective ill considered bureaucracy. The prevention of these tragedies requires an extraordinarily comprehensive approach utilizing many treatment, mechanical, and screening methodologies. The author should be ashamed of himself for exploiting this horrid event to further his own deeply flawed agenda.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A tiny she kit wobbled in. Her legs were unsturdy and looked ready to buckle. She was so tiny that she could hide under a bird and not be seen. Her pelt was muddy but underneath it was dove grey. Her eyes where a deep blue. Suddenly she collapsed from tierdness.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
May i join and rp a kit?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
See my post in first result
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Can I rp Pandakit? Im on a lot. Like A LOT.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I need a mate. She meowed. Is thee any toms? Snowwhisker
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
U can rp Brownkit a brown tom with green eyes and Silverkit a silver shekit with blue eyes to rp them go to seaweed result three
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
:( I can only rp on thursdays now. I got caught so now i can only have the nook on thursdays and i have no idea what my moms password is. :(
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Do you want to be allies with gangsterclan?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The golden tom frowns as Firepaw leaves.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thank you so much my clan has faded away and i have found my way here and by chance what is your name. He meowed
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
(First day of school today. Wont be on much. Wish me luck!)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Can you go to rain water result one and join my clan lilystar
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
B@n is shuting down rp by deleting accounts on 9-1-12if u want proofbgo to jenny oldfeild her first result and scroll down till u find a post by someone who works there.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A small light grey kit with dark swirls on around her feet right eye and left ear and light blue eyes lied down near the entace of the camp.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hi im longtail a white tom with orge flecks all over my body and light green eyes. Im loyal and trustworthy. I also need a mate.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*leaves so he can find a mentor that will train him and a clan that is on more often*