The Art of the Hunt

by Dan Simmons

Nevada has always been the land of legends, mysteries, and adventures. When it comes to fishing it’s no different, as I discovered at Pyramid Lake, a short distance north of Reno, Nevada.

 Our recent experiences with Covid have caused many disruptions in public events and travel. Outdoor Conventions and banquets are no exception, but the conventions and banquets are back and scheduled for 2022. I look forward to visiting with old friends and making new ones this year.

     I feel fortunate that I’ve been able to spend much of my life in outdoor adventures as a game warden, wildlife biologist, hunting-fishing guide and researcher.

     Hunting in particular requires skill, patience and perseverance; some show a talent for the sport perhaps even developing the chase to the level of an art form, but the art form I’m referring to in this column is of the paint and canvas variety.  Outdoor conventions and banquets are an ideal place to view, enjoy and even buy works from some of the greatest outdoor and wildlife artists. We are fortunate to have many of these national and international events in Las Vegas.

Some hunters, however, are able to take the adventure to a whole new level; one of these is Michael Sieve. His “The Ivory Hunter”, a depiction of an early Elephant market hunter stopped me in my tracks at a Safari Club International (SCI) convention.  This and his “Desert Kings” are two of my favorites. “Desert Kings,” I’m honored to say, was inspired by the sheep we found while on a scouting trip at the exact location where my Desert Bighorn was taken, in the local Spring Mountains. He got it right and the realism is as clear as the day we happened on these magnificent animals. Michael is an excellent sportsman, conservationist and friend; I look forward to visiting his gallery in Minnesota.  

At the same convention I met and made a new friend of John Seerey-Lester who recently went to that great adventure (1946-2020). We’ll miss him, but I’m sure he is doing well with new material. 

Several of John’s paintings are hanging in my den and I have a collection of his coffee table books, but until this event I’d never had the opportunity to meet him. Now I’m even more impressed with his new series depicting Theodore Roosevelt, the cowboy hunter, and his hunting adventures in Africa, South America and in the northern regions of United States, especially the Dakotas, Montana and Wyoming. 

     I was also stopped in my tracks by Grant Hacking’s painting, “Dangerous Crossing.”  It is the depiction of a crocodile attacking a zebra; it was so real I could see the terror in the zebra’s eyes and the determination of the crocodile. He had not yet gotten hold of the zebra which has a fair chance of getting away. You and I get to finish the story in our imaginations. We are there, or would like to be, or it’s possibly a place we would not like to be due to caution or fear as the adrenalin rushes from the canvas. This is true adventure art. 

Grant was born in Petersburg, South Africa and traveled extensively with his artist father while developing a keen eye for detail. Traveling on Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe he watched crocks going after Waterbuck; they often missed, but sometimes got lucky. This was the inspiration for the painting

At a recent SCI convention I once again visited with Trevor Swanson and saw some of his latest work. Trevor Swanson has the unique ability to translate on to canvas the true Arizona landscape and wildlife. His Antelope and Quail series in particular caught my attention and had me checking my credit cards. They looked like they could walk off the canvas. 

    While visiting with Jim Killen, a master of depicting the sporting dog, and standing before one of his paintings I wanted to own that dog. I see myself standing over him as he points, shooing over him as Bobwhite Quail explode from a thicket and cover them, squeeze the trigger and imagine the perfect shot.  In all cases I’m there, in the moment, all due to the skill and talent of a special artist. Again, this is Wildlife art at its best

     If unique is your flavor, as it is mine, you’ll be enchanted with the talent of Cynthie Fisher. She is an award winning wildlife artist and biologist working with oils, acrylic and sculpture, but my new friend introduced me to scratchboard art. This intricate and laborious technique brings the work to life. She gave me a lesson, but you will have to see it for yourself, a true treat and certainly another show stopper that drew significant crowds around her SCI booth. 

     Like the written words of Hemmingway, Ruark and Selous, these artists and others can come as close to the real thing as possible, making you feel you are there and in the moment.

     These and many other world class artists are available to discuss their works or just visit and share hunting and adventure stories at one of the many outdoor conventions (Google hunting and fishing organizations or wildlife artists for more).

Another great source of wildlife art is monthly periodicals. Two of my favorites showcasing art are: Sporting Classics and Sports Afield magazines. Most outdoor organizations also have their own member’s magazines. All are valuable resources and worth the membership or subscription fee.

     Wild Wings at www.wildwings.com represent many of these well known artists and is an excellent marketplace for outstanding outdoor art. So do yourself a favor and see more works of these artists online.  Go to:  www.granthacking.com; www.trevorswanson.com; www.killencollection.com and www.cynthiefisher.com                                     

If you have a story or comment about this or other articles, please contact me at sportsmansquest.dan@gmail.com

                                                                RECIPE

                                           Dan’s Sheep Stroganoff

Our meals on the mountain usually consisted of delicious “burnt back-strap” of sheep and Mountain House freeze-dried beef stroganoff.

They are great, but let me share this old family favorite with you.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 small diced onion
  • 2 T flour
  • 1 t. fresh ground pepper
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 1-14 oz can beef broth
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 3 T sherry
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 lbs of sheep steak (or beef) cut into thin strips.

Directions

  • Sprinkle meat with salt and pepper, heat butter in heavy fry pan and brown, add onion and mushrooms cook until soft.
  • Add flour and stir, add beef broth stirring to loosen any browned bits, add tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce and sherry.
  • Blend well and let simmer slowly for 20 minutes stirring occasionally.
  • Just before serving, add the sour cream and blend thoroughly. Serve with egg noodles.
“The Art of the Hunt” first appeared in the Las Vegas Review Journal’s Pahrump Valley Times