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Jack O'Connor (January 22, 1902 – January 20, 1978) was best known as a writer for Outdoor Life magazine, where he served as Shooting Editor for 31 years.
O'Connor was well known among shooters and hunters as a proponent of the .270 Winchester and 7x57mm Mauser (.275 Rigby) cartridges. His knowledge of hunting and shooting was extensive, and he had a firm opinion on everything. He was one of America's greatest hunting and gun writers of the twentieth century.
Jack O'Connor authored over a dozen non-fiction books including "Game in the Desert" "The Rifle Book" "The Complete Book of Rifles and Shotguns" "The Big Game of North America" "The Art of Hunting Big Game in North America," and "Sheep and Sheep Hunting" He also wrote two western novels, "Conquest," and "Boom Town," and the autobiography of his formative years: "Horse and Buggy West: A Boyhood on the Last Frontier."
According to his son Bradford, in an introduction written for the 2004 book, "The Lost Classics of Jack O'Connor," Jack wrote more than 1200 articles for hunting and fishing magazines, and also wrote romantic novellas and articles for Redbook, Mademoiselle, Reader's Digest, Cosmopolitan, Esquire, the literary magazine Midland, and other magazines popular in the 1930s and 1940s.
Jack worked as a college professor of English and journalism until 1945, when he quit teaching to write full-time. His writing skills and style were far above the norm for outdoor magazines. An O'Connor story always taught the reader something about hunting, shooting, or sportsmanship. He had the ability to make the reader feel as if they were right there with him, and he usually closed a hunting story with a bit of humor or an exclamation by one of the characters, leaving the reader eager for more.
Some of his most memorable hunting articles for Outdoor Life magazine include: "We Shot the Tamales" "Santiago and the Lady Hunter" "Lions Don't Come Easy" and "A Tiger Has Killed".
In this short passage from his story, "Up To Our Necks In Deer," Jack's love for the .270 rifle and impressive writing style are evident.
When the rifle cracked, the buck turned over clear over in the air, and hit like a bag of potatoes.
"Whoopee!" said Zefarino. "That's the kind of rifle I like, one that has power. One shot and the buck doesn't move. How do you call it?"
"The .270," I said.
"The same one you shoot the ram with, no?"
"With the .30 you shot a buck and it ran. Then the smaller boy shoots a buck with the .25 and it ran. Now the large boy shoots a buck with this rifle and it is dead in its tracks. How good a rifle, this .270!"
"It shoots a good ball," I said, "--a very fast ball."
"Like the lightning!" said Zefarino. In 2006 the Jack O'Connor Hunting Heritage and Education Center opened at Hells Gate State Park on the Snake River, near Lewiston, Idaho. Many of his big game trophies are on display there, along with other memorabilia, including his favorite .270 rifle.