Paperback, 400 pages.
Meshach Browning spent decades as a professional hunter and trapper of bears, boars and deer in rural Maryland during the early 1800s – this is his story, in his own words. This book is an autobiography of Meshach Browning's life in the western Maryland mountains during the early 1800s. The details are primarily located in what is now Garrett County and, largely, under Deep Creek Lake as he hunted Deep Creek and the lands around there for those forty four years.
Born in modest circumstances, Browning grew up at a time when the United States as a nation was in its infancy, with much of the population living in rural areas. From his youth, the author vowed to be self-sufficient, leaving his home and first love to hone his abilities as a hunter. Returning with money gained from selling pelts and meat, it is then that Meshach contemplates hunting as a career.
The equipment used by the author is much inferior to that of the modern day. Meshach’s use of a musket – a gun whose reliability is demonstrated as poor in several instances – leads him to rely on his skills in close quarters combat. On multiple hunts, described with stunning vividness in these pages, Browning’s ability to battle animals in melee saves his life. The dangers of his trade are balanced by its lucrativeness: bear meat and pelt for instance fetched high prices on the open market.
Though his life’s work is the primary subject, Meshach Browning shows a tender side when describing his first marriage; his loving wife Mary bore him several children. In later chapters, he proudly teaches his sons the craft which sustained their family for so many years.
Forty-Four Years of the Life of a Hunter is a remarkable performance. The book has charm, humor, authenticity; and it is possible to learn from it more about early America than can be had from most histories. — Archibald Rutledge
The autobiography of Meshach Browning suggests that the typical subsistence hunter was courageous, knowledgeable and principled, a genuine wilderness hero.
— Ruth Weidner
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