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No More Canvas Safaris: Noted Outdoor Writer Thomas McIntyre Dies at 70

No More Canvas Safaris: Noted Outdoor Writer Thomas McIntyre Dies at 70

In the so-called golden era of American outdoor writing—the decades of the early and middle 20th century that produced legendary scribes like Nash Buckingham, Ernest Hemingway, Robert Ruark, Jack O’Connor, Gordon MacQuarrie, Gene Hill, and more—the outdoor magazines of the world were awash in great words from those who were great writers first, and great outdoorsmen second.

Thomas McIntyre was a writer who belonged in that hallowed group. He was born about the same time of the great heyday of American outdoor writers who filled the evening easy chair reads of suburban men dreaming of something other than the daily grind at the office and school lads who read outdoor rags wild-eyed at the local barbershop as their mother’s demanded a trim around the ears.

McIntyre was every bit as good an outdoor writer as any of the names mentioned above, even if he never became quite the household name like many of them did decades ago. And now, after the 70-year old writer died in his sleep at his Sheridan, Wyo., home on Nov. 3, 2022, his voice is stilled forevermore and belongs to the ages through the various books he authored, some 750+ screenplays and scripts for television shows like Outdoor Channel’s Buccaneers & Bones, and countless magazine articles down through the years in publications like Petersen’s Hunting (Link: www.petersenshunting.com ).

“In my formative years, Tom McIntyre was my hero,” said David Draper, editor in chief of Petersen’s Hunting. “I devoured his books, which gave fodder to my dreams of hunting around the world and, eventually, led me to a career in the world of outdoor media. Later, I had the honor to meet him, hunt with him and call him a friend. It’s safe to say, without Tom McIntyre’s well-thought prose and enormous appetite for the adventurous life, which he shared with the world, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’ll miss his spellbinding ability to tell a story, always followed by that raucous laugh.”

McIntyre's work down through the years produced an array of books, including the acclaimed fictional work, The Snow Leopard's Tale in, and the equally acclaimed Augusts in Africa. At the time of his unexpected death last week, McIntyre was looking ahead to a new book scheduled to be released next April, titled Thunder Without Rain: A Memoir with Dangerous Game, God's Cattle, The African Buffalo.

McIntyre chasing all manner of game species, game birds, and fish with fly rods, rods and reels, shotguns, muzzleloaders, and rifles across North America, and chronicled the adventurous with the kind of prose not often found in the outdoor world. There weren’t many wild species he didn’t hunt ranging from mourning doves to bull elk to wild boars to quail to ducks to white-tailed deer, species he chronicled in such books as Days Afield, Seasons & Days, and Dreaming the Lion.

In reference to that latter title, what really thrilled the man born a third-generation Californian—and educated by Jesuits at Loyola High School in Los Angeles—was the spellbinding African continent and its never ending supply of danger, intrigue, and wild game.

With a humble beginning writing for some Pacific Northwest newspapers in the 1970s—McIntyre’s biographical information notes that he attended Reed College in Portland, Ore.—the writer would become increasingly in demand by all manners of publications as word of his talent grew.

Eventually, McIntyre moved to Sheridan, Wyo., where he made his home with wife and son. Along the way his byline was increasingly in demand as he penned stories for leading publications, ranging from Petersen’s Hunting to Men’s Journal to Garden and Gun. McIntyre became one of the industry’s most recognized authors and one of its most experienced practitioners, going on countless hunting and fishing trips across North America and beyond, and many African safaris after a first visit to Kenya as a young man years ago.

McIntyre's amazing wordsmithing work seemed to belong in another time and place in some ways, something that contributed to the authenticity that many felt when they read one of his works. That includes a marvelous piece for Petersen's Hunting a few years ago, a column entitled Under Canvas: A True African Safari (Link: https://www.petersenshunting.com/editorial/under-canvas-a-true-african-safari/376246 ).

In that piece, McIntyre wrote about the African big game hunting experience as only one who has actually experienced it the same way that Hemingway, Ruark, and Selous did, sleeping in lion and leopard country under the soft flapping of nighttime canvas making noise mysteriously beneath the Southern Cross.

“Nobody wants to hear some fossil maundering about “back when,” but back when I began hunting in Kenya as a very young man, safaris still set off in lorries and traveled off the roads until they found, in the hunting blocks they had booked with the game department, the remembered campsites, or the newly prospected ones, at which to raise the tents,” wrote McIntyre. “Which led me to the belief, valid or not, that the best safaris should be under canvas.”

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Indeed. As someone who will likely never get to experience the wonders of Africa—I’m getting too many miles on the chassis and time is slipping by a little more quickly than I’d like—I’ve been able to live vicariously through the works of noted hunting authors like McIntyre down through the years.

And although we never had the chance to meet in person, he graciously became a friend on social media platforms and his books pepper my bookshelves in the office and study. And anytime I saw his byline online—including back in the days earlier in the 21st Century when I wrote for ESPNOutdoors.com and McIntyre did a running journal for that website while on another safari in Africa—I was soon transported elsewhere by the words of this amazingly talented writer who saw and experienced the world in an old soul kind of way.

Rest in peace, Tom McIntyre. The world was a richer place because of your words and we’re running out of writers who can spellbind us with tales of wild and free outdoor pursuits and the necessity of conserving such places for generations to come.

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Editor’s Note: Services for McIntyre are being handled by Kane Funeral Home in Sheridan and are pending sometime this upcoming spring.




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