I got done reading Meshack Browning's autobiography recently-- loved it. He's not my hunting hero, but his story is easily the most exciting deer hunting book I've ever found.
Jim Corbett's books on tigers probably are the most exciting hunting books I've read overall. Zowie!
Heroes? No. I can't say either one are folks I would want to emulate.
I have a great uncle Ernst. He died long before I was born. He was head warden for a district in the Black Forest. He was Hermann Göring's favorite; Hermann and the boys used to come down from Berlin to hunt with him on a regular basis. My Dad hunted with Ernst once-- said his command of the game was astounding. My Grandfather's living room in Miami Beach was filled with excess trophies shipped to him by his Brother in Law, along with a collection of cuckoo clocks and assorted Black Forest bric-a-brac. This odd mix of Black Forest Jagende Besitzhaus meets beach house kitch seemed perfect normal to me. I guess that's why I'm a bit eccentric. Anyhow, if I had to aspire to anyone's example, it would be Ernst Koeppe. He was a great hunter and a respected member of the community. He was fully immersed in the troubles of the age, but managed to stay above and apart from it. He knew his game. He knew how to manage and protect his game, and yet he also knew how to show a hunter a good time. Most of all, he knew how to take a natural resource like the wild game and turn it to profit for all involved. If I could figure out a way to do that in my life, I'd feel I'd done something great.
The other heroes I have are a pair of guys-- Mom's Dad, Whitey and her Mom's Dad, Claude. Whitey and Claude were a real match. Whitey was a farm boy from Brecksville who'd been born the last child and only son of aging Welsh parents. Claude was an accountant who'd gotten tired of the rat race and become a carpenter-- head carpenter for May & Company in Cleveland. Claude was the younger father that could still do stuff with the young Whitey. Whitey was the son Claude never had. The two of them chased birds all over the farm fields south of Cleveland, and fished everywhere they could . Grandad Claude had an old door filled with muskie heads taken from the Cuyahoga River-- big enough to put your head in. Whitey knew how to train dogs for the field. Mom grew up dressing his hunting dogs in doll clothes. When Claude finally gave out and took to his rocker, the party ended. Things were never the same again. I used to fish with Grandpa Whitey, but he always seemed a bit impatient and peeved. We never did the big trips together. The bird guns always stayed in the closet, and the big pike lures stayed in the tackle box.
As a result, I've tried to keep myself available to my boys. After years of trying, I finally got a week with my #2 son, and went straight up to Canada and fished Lake Nipissing for a week--the way Whitey and Claude used to hit Houghton Lake every year. In some instances we were using the same tactics. In some instances we were using the same lures. I was sure to bring the stout pike rod that Whitey bought me, the year before he died.
My sons have a dad that drags them out every weekend to scout and hunt. We fish whenever we can. They don't know it. I'm sure they're taking it for granted. I remember Whitey and Claude. I know how short and how precious the show really is, and how you have to grab as much of it as you can before it's over.