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On The Wing

I shot my first Bird on the wing - a ruffed grouse - in 1959. It's been a wild ride ever since.

While much of my life outdoors has revolved around fly-fishing and bowhunting, no element of the sporting life has aroused more passion than the time I have spent afield hunting upland game and waterfowl with my shotgun and dogs. Many of my most memorable wing-shooting experiences have taken place in Montana, which has been my home most of the time since 1973 (and, not coincidentally, offers some great hunting opportunities). However, On the Wing also includes material from Alaska, where I moved in 1980; Arizona, where Lori and I maintained a winter home in quail country for years; and Washington, where we visit my old family duck camp several times every season. Writing about the outdoors is a poor way to make a living but it has allowed wonderful opportunities to visit faraway places, meet new people of different backgrounds, study unfamiliar wildlife, and enjoy unique wing-shooting opportunities. In this spirit, the book is also a record of memorable experiences in locations as diverse as new Zealand, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Namibia.

The book is divided into segments devoted to the wide variety of flying game I've encountered over the years: pheasants; grouse; partridge and quail; upland outliers from doves to woodcock; ducks;and geese. Of course I've devoted plenty of space to the dogs that became my hunting partners and members of my family - mostly Labredor retrievers and German wirehairs, with guest appearances by a few other breeds as well.

The text is also a thinly disguised old fashioned love letter to my wife, Lori. In addition to her invaluable companionship and abillity to hit some of the birds I occasionally (?) miss, she has contributed her keen eye and polished technique to the color photographs that complement the text.

Much of the material in this book has previously appeared in magazine form. I will always be grateful to the fine editors who allowed me to write about the outdoors in my own way. Here's what some of them have had to say:

"On the Wing is a remarkable account of a lifetime afield that belongs in the permanent collection of any hunter who appreciates a well-told story."

                                                                                                                    Mike Floyd, Gray's Sporting Journal

"Don's writing makes you feel like you are alongside to see the sights, sense the adrenaline, feel the warm, soft Labrador fur beneath your hand...." 

                                                                                                                    Jake Smith, Retriever Journal

"Don Thomas is the consummate wing-shooter, and his passion for birds, dogs, people, and places comes through in his prose... that rare storyteller who can both educate and entertain."

                                                                                                                     Ralph Stuart, Shooting Sportsman

"Don Thomas has gifted us with a collection of the very best hunting stories from uplands to wetlands and water... pure gold."

                                                                                                                      Tom Carpenter, Pheasants Forever

Lori and I hope you enjoy reading On the Wing as much as we enjoyed creating it.