Philip Crowe's Sporting Journeys in Africa and Asia (Bane Publishers, $7.50) begins at the Hill Club in Ceylon, amid retired British colonels and tea planters, in a setting straight out of Kipling. And the author has managed to catch to perfection the tone of a Victorian sportsman's recollections. He rambles on pleasantly about hunting tigers with the Maharaja of Indore, hunting huge Indian bison through the kindness of the Maharaja of Mysore, fishing some of the 300 miles of beautiful trout water in Kashmir and shooting lions and elephants in Africa. Sometimes his book sounds like a parody. "Evenings in Government House were enlivened by other state guests," he says. "There was B. N. Banerji, head of the Indian Customs Service, and Bishop Alexander Mar Theophilus, missionary bishop of the Mar Thoma Church of India." But the author is perfectly serious. A wartime chief of intelligence in Asia and later U.S. Ambassador to Ceylon and South Africa, Philip Crowe discovered that he could find out more about a country if he went fishing and hunting than if he remained in his office.
In 1927 Olaus Murie, his wife and their two children established a camp high on Whetstone Creek in the Tetons in Wyoming, so Murie could begin his study of the great elk herd at Jackson Hole. Wapiti Wilderness (Knopf, $5.95) consists of 25 brief chapters of their 37 years there, alternately written by Murie, who died in 1963, and by his widow. Murie's chapters have the air of notes and jottings left over from his standard work, The Elk in North America. Mrs. Murie's chapters, despite an occasional lapse into women's-magazine prose, bring the wilderness into clearer focus. How did she raise her three children way off there in the hills? "Well, all I can say is it was simpler there than in town," she answers.
Dan Beard, a novelist, successful illustrator and founder of the Boy Scouts of America, wrote The American Boys Handy Book in 1882. It has been reissued (Charles E. Tuttle Co., $3.95) and is a treasury of information on how to make squirt guns, boomerangs, cabins, rafts, balloons, theatrical costumes and toy boats that can be used to catch fish. You make a foot-long boat with a paper sail, rig a line to the stern, and the vessel "when sailing before the wind will troll the bait in a manner that appears to be irresistible to bass...." Beard was particularly good on bubbles: "Few persons can stand by and watch another blowing bubbles," he wrote, "without being seized by an uncontrollable desire to blow one for themselves."