Keith McCafferty is the survival and outdoors skills editor of Field & Stream, and the author of The Royal Wulff Murders, The Gray Ghost Murders (recommended by Oprah’s Book Club), Dead Man’s Fancy and Crazy Mountain Kiss, which won the Western Writers of America 2016 Spur Award for Best Western Contemporary Novel. Crazy Mountain Kiss also has been chosen as a finalist for the High Plains Award for the Novel, and for the Nero Award for Best Mystery. Buffalo Jump Blues, his fifth Sean Stranahan novel, has been awarded starred reviews from Booklist and Kirkus, as well as recommendation as one of 2016’s best summer books in O Magazine.
Winner of the Traver Award for angling literature, McCafferty is a two-time National Magazine Awards finalist. He lives with his wife, cat and—as a wild bird rescue volunteer—various feathered friends, in Bozeman, Montana.
1 The Blackfeet: Raiders on the Northwestern Plains (John C. Ewers, University of Oklahoma Press): Ewers, former curator of the Museum of the Plains Indian, has done a masterful job pulling together the written and oral histories of the nomadic Blackfeet under one cover. Known as “The Lords of the Plains,” the Blackfeet comprised the hunting culture that inspired my novel, Buffalo Jump Blues, and many historical pishkuns, or buffalo jumps, are located on their sacred hunting grounds.
2 Champion Buffalo Hunter: The Frontier Memoirs of Yellowstone Vic Smith (Jeanette Prodgers, TwoDot Press): Of the biographies of commercial buffalo hunters, The Memoirs of Yellowstone Vic Smith—trapper, trick shot, scout, hunter extraordinaire (he bought bullet lead by the ton!)—is the most informative and entertaining. And who else can say he guided Theodore Roosevelt on a buffalo hunt in the Dakota Badlands?
3 The Lives and Legends of Buffalo Bill
(Don Russell, University of Oklahoma Press): Strip away the myth, put the Wild West Show years in perspective, and what emerges is a remarkably forward-thinking man—buffalo killer, yes, but also buffalo proponent, consummate showman, champion of civil rights for Indians and equal pay for women. The definitive biography of the West’s most colorful and iconic figure.
4 American Plains Bison: Rewilding An Icon (James A. Bailey, James A. Bailey): Bison biologist James Bailey poses an important question: Is there hope for the expansion of wild, genetically pure bison into unfenced historical ranges in the West? If so, what would be the value, not just for the wooly icon, not only for the Native tribes, but for mankind? If you are interested in the future of wild bison, this is where you start.
5 Shooting Buffalo Rifles of the Old West (Mike Venturino, Wolfe Publishing Company): I spent a hunting season toting a reproduction Sharps rifle for a Field & Stream assignment in Montana. The Sharps carried authority at both ends and brought home the venison, although I wish I’d had this book to reference during my trials at hand-loading. Venturino’s manual is a must for shooters of original and reproduction firearms from the late 1800s.