DescriptionNash Buckingham Archive of Letters and Drafts for Articles. A collection of over 85 letters and typescripts, spanning the years from September 7, 1957 to July 22, 1970, from the American nature author to Lea Lawrence, Public Information Director at the Tennessee Game & Fish Commission. The majority of the letters are typed, with many having been signed by Buckingham in ink at the conclusion. There are also three letters handwritten letters [dated June 27, 1963; January 7, 1969; and undated], as well as a few drafts and copies of articles.
Born on May 31, 1880, in Memphis, Tennessee, Nash Buckingham grew up loving sports such as football and baseball but also took an interest in outdoor sports such as hunting and fishing. In 1909, he sold his first story about ranching and hunting big game, and from there set upon a career path that would lead him to wide acclaim. By 1912, he got a job writing for numerous outdoor magazines, and soon became the Associate Editor for Field and Stream.
Nash Buckingham was a strong proponent for conservation and the protection of endangered bird species. He also advocated for consistent and fair enforcement of game laws. For these acts, he was given numerous awards, such as the Winchester Western's Outdoorsman of the Year award for achievements in wildlife conservation. In an August 16, 1965 letter to Lea Lawrence, one can see the passion that Buckingham had for the subject, and how repulsed he was by the indifference towards game law violations. One page, 8.5" x 11", in part:
"Extinction of species means absolutely nothing to 75% of the wild fowl gunning public. The 'Looting' is worse than at Los Angeles. Federal court prosecution of offeners [sic] has become a bored dismissal, or some paltry toss out. Only here and there is there a 'tough' Judge. What about the wealthy sportsmen flying their own planes who invite guests to their flooded woods, kill and load up a hundred or more mallards a trip and are never even challenged. Or the guys that do the same with cars? There's where the deficient really is, and hidden by all this palaver over 'drouths. If an outdoor writer and good reporter try to tell this story thru an outdoor book, or with protests to Washington, he's, literally, black-listed or given what's known as 'the absent treatment'...Is that gross robbery now going to be allowed to stand. I'd give a pretty to see the Tenn Game Commission wire Udall that in view of the Government's desire for retrenchment of species - the Special Teal Season be cancelled. Boy would THAT help. I see that my very old valued friends US Senator Willis Robertson...has petitioned Udall to close the season. I wrote Willis at once suggesting that he ask also to have the Teal steal cancelled. Even if they closed the season, the situation would expend to a Los Angeles caliber. Even with a twenty-five day season and two or three ducks, you are going to witness probably the worst holocaust of all but open violations, in history. It is a bitter and dangerous situation, but they have nobody but themselves to blame."
He is perhaps best known for his short stories entitled De Shootinest Gent'man, but he also published nine books and frequently wrote articles for wildlife magazines such as Sport Afield, Outdoor Life, Field & Stream, and Recreation. A draft of an article Buckingham wrote for the American Sportsman, appears in this collection along with a letter from literary agent Lurton Blassingame to Lea Lawrence. Buckingham had been given a prompt to provide "an atmosphere nostalgic, factual description of shooting the great flocks of water-birds in the SOUTH during the period 1889-1909", and he wrote the seventeen-page long article "The Thoughtless Too-Greedy Years", circa February 1968. He went into great detail about the vanishing of species that he saw, due to over-shooting, writing in part:
"Even today the illegal stealage of wildfowl exceeds the legal take. Violations of the Migratory Bird Law carry no social stigma and are about on a basis of raids on watermelon patches. To observe today's remnant wildfowl populations in contrast to those I saw beginning in 1890, is but to mourn...I have shot Canada geese and a very, very few Blues and Snows from practically every worthwhile sand-bar from below Cairo, Illinois to the Louisiana and Texas coastals. Memories of shooting canvasbacks and redheads from the flats off Rockport, Texas and San Jacinto Bay (before oil) are priceless. Then was when you really saw ducks and geese. But, even so, between 1890, I saw the swans disappear. Like the prairie chickens in Arkansas, I saw them vanish from a favorite hang-out, Wapanoca - until they just seemed to evaporate, all of a sudden. And Wapanoca for its size, was then the finest concentration area of wildfowl in what is known today as the Mississippi Valley flyway."
Another article draft included is "Great Hunting Dogs I've Shot Over", circa May 1968. Buckingham was a lover of hunting dogs, and found them to be an invaluable service in the sport. An excerpt from the article reads, in part:
"So, my assigned purpose here is to discuss some of the best remembered hunting or 'shooting dogs' behind whom I've ridden and ramped for eighty years. Let's differentiate abruptly between 'horseback dogs' and 'walking dogs.' When it comes to a bird dog's casts their range is almost invariably exaggerated. [If a dog is 200 yards away in heavy cover, he's lost to the average foot hunter.] A hard-driving, well mannered bird dog that gets out two hundred and fifty to three hundred yards and searches intelligently, much less in tight country, can turn up a lot of game for a foot-hunter or the man on horseback. I've owned that type and a few big-going fellows as well. Some of them have been dogs I wouldn't swap for a lot of Big-Circuit champs I've seen and judged. Take that magnificent lemon and white pointer dog of the late Whit Cook at Harmontown, Mississippi, in the 1920's. 'Sport' was an eligible but never-registered puppy given Whit by a city merchant. Whit raised 'Sport', and being a bird hunter from his cradle days, reared in as fine bobwhite country as there is in the USA, he took a lot of pains that paid off in the process...'Sport' spent his life around the country store of Cooke & Hale, and Whit's lovely home next door. He would accompany friends of the firm on walking bird hunts or go rabbit hunting with the hamlet's urchins. But if his hunters missed too many shots 'Sport' would ease off, go on home and resume his nap under the store's front counter. In my humble opinion 'Sport' would have had a chance in any field trial the nation has ever seen. I've seen but one other dog in the shooting class with such a rating."
The article is accompanied by another letter from Blassingame, however this one demands that further edits are required, saying "I think it needs a bit more than retyping...The editor hopes that the article will let readers know - including those readers who have never had a worthwhile hunting dog - what makes a great hunting dog." Thusly, Buckingham's draft is marked with numerous holographic edits and deletions in red pencil.
An overall fabulous collection of letters from the well-loved writer during his later years. They give insight into the conservation projects he was passionate about, as well as demonstrating his wealth of knowledge for the sport. Numerous typed letters also have holographic notations by Buckingham or have been signed by him.
Condition: Letters and drafts range from very good to very fine; some light toning on some letters, with one letter having large areas of soiling, does not affect legibility of letter or signature. Signatures are bold.
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