by J. Scott Rupp
Don't be put off when you first start watching "Jack O'Connor: An Outdoor Legend" and see his name misspelled in two post-production graphics. This new DVD is a well-done, in-depth look (two-hour run time) at the life of Jack O'Connor, without question the most influential gun and hunting writer in the middle part of the 20th century--maybe ever.
Never-before-seen footage of O'Connor's hunts, shot by himself and his hunting partners with a 16mm movie camera and provided to the filmmakers by the O'Connor family, provides a fascinating glimpse of O'Connor and his family and friends in the field. Most interesting is the footage of his many wilderness pack trips into the Yukon, British Columbia, and Alberta in search of wild sheep, grizzly, mountain goat, and black bear. Because these trips occurred before bush planes were widely used, they were many-week affairs that required long horseback rides into rugged mountains. The glimpses of O'Connor and his guides packing mules, hauling out game and relaxing near their canvas tents are windows into another time. There's also footage of O'Connor's many African safaris, his shikars to India and Iran, and his hunts for antelope and deer in Wyoming and Idaho.
Guns are also showcased, from his .30-06 built on a Mauser action by Al Biesen; his first .270s (both Winchester 70s, naturally), stocked by Biesen; a custom Sharps-Borchardt-based action chambered in 2R Lovell (a .25-20 necked down to .22); his wife Eleanor's .30-06 tiger rifle; and several more.
The filmmakers trace O'Connor's life from his earliest years and use an extensive collection of photographs to give the viewer an in-depth look at the man and his family. O'Connor scholar Buck Buckner and biographer Robert Anderson provide commentary and insight into the writer's life and tell the stories of his various hunts and the effects of his growing fame over the years. Craig Boddington weighs in on his hero as well (Craig's uncle, Art Popham, was one of O'Connor's hunting partners.)
If you're an O'Connor aficionado or serious hunter with an interest in how things used to be, this would be a good addition to your video collection. $30. Safari Press, 800/451-4788.