We are proud to present this high-quality reprint of the greatest grouse books ever written—and illustrated. For William Harnden Foster was not only a fine writer. He was also a classically trained artist. His mood-capturing paintings, charcoal drawings and pen-and-ink sketches of gunners and their bird dogs roaming the half-overgrown farms and tumbledown stone walls of early 20th-century northern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire are among the finest ever created. His lyrical writing is the perfect match. Here is a choice sample from the Preface:
“The pa’tridge of this book is the grouse of the bayberry pastures and the junipers, where the alder runs continue down from the birth hillsides that are dotted with white pines and cedars, and here and there is found a wild apple tree in the corner of an ancient stone wall with blackberry vines and bullbriers tangled together beneath. There, in those long-lived-in parts of the East, is now found the race of grouse that has matched its wits and cunning with man and beast for three centuries and the education of which has been, for a long time, complete.”
New England Grouse Shooting is a wonderfully captivating book by an erudite and educated bird hunter who experienced the heart of the golden era of ruffed grouse hunting, when market hunting was vanishing and a new sporting ethic was emerging. Indeed, Foster played an influential role in shaping that ethic. This is the masterpiece to which dedicated upland bird hunters return again and again, for inspiration and a reminder of those good old-fashioned feelings about why we love the sport.
New England Grouse Shooting was first published in 1942 by the prestigious New York publisher Charles Scribner’s Sons, home to legendary authors Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Thomas Wolfe. Tragically, the author never saw it. Foster died suddenly of a heart attack the previous October at the end of a field trial in Connecticut; he was only 55. Foster’s literary and artistic legacy lives on in this classic book whose charm, warmth and wisdom radiate from every chapter:
- The Little Gun
- Yesterday’s Pa’tridges
- Your Grouse of Today
- The Grouse Dog
- Grouse Guns and Loads
- Hitting a Grouse
- Grouse Shooting Outfits
- A Lesson in Grouse Shooting
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
William Harnden Foster was born in Andover, Massachusetts in 1886. He was raised in the still-rural countryside among hardscrabble farmers, hunters and trappers. Wild game was abundant.
Young William had a talent for drawing, and he began his higher education at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, where he studied for three years. He achieved greatness at the Howard Pyle School of Illustration Art in Delaware. Pyle was one of the foremost commercial illustrators of his era, famous for children’s books such as The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood. Foster’s contemporaries who also gained their polish from Pyle included N. C. Wyeth, Maxfield Parish and Harvey Dunn.
Foster would go on to illustrate hundreds of covers for popular fishing and hunting magazines, notably the August 1926 issue of National Sportsman, the first cover picture of the new sport of skeet. Foster’s involvement is even more remarkable, as told by Art Wheaton in our award-winning book, A Passion for Grouse:
“Between 1910 and 1915 this game became a popular pastime in Andover and a friendly competition developed between Foster and his friends. This rivalry set the stage for a more standardized competition in which each participant would take the same series of shots. But Foster always believed that moving shooters to different stations in a circle around the trap wasn’t really practical or safe. So he decided to arrange the stations in a half-circle with a thrower at each corner. The first trap, or high house, would simulate a driven bird; the second or low house, a flushed bird.”
THIS SPECIAL EDITION
The Foster family asked Wild River Press to faithfully reproduce their grandfather’s 1942 first edition of New England Grouse Shooting in all graphic aspects, including original size, as exactly as possible with today’s materials. To achieve the excellence and authenticity we desired, we turned to experienced craftsmen at the largest American custom sheet-fed printing plant. It is located in Tennessee. This 75th anniversary edition features a carefully matched tan Brillianta cloth cover, 80# Royal Sundance felt warm white text stock, and endpapers of Mohawk jute fleck print. All are American-milled materials.
We made one significant departure. Inside the original book, across from the title page, there was a small color reproduction of the oil painting “Grouse Shooting in New England” displayed on the front of the dust jacket. The author’s son, William H. Foster, Jr., posed for the picture. In the published picture he he is shooting at a flushed grouse over a pointer dog. What few outside the Foster family know is that, as a prototype for the final oil, the artist did a smaller watercolor of the identical scene—except in the first version Bill Foster, Jr. is shooting over an English setter. We selected the unique watercolor for the frontispiece of this new 75th Anniversary Edition. A gorgeous art print of the watercolor painting is also offered with the Limited Edition collector’s set of New England Grouse Shooting.