The University of Wisconsin Press

Sports & Recreation / Nature

Wingbeats and Heartbeats
Essays on Game Birds, Gun Dogs, and Days Afield
Dave Books
Illustrations by Christopher Smith

“Dave Books writes with the spare, honest beauty of the northern Great Plains, where he has spent much of the past forty hunting seasons chasing pheasants, sharptails, Huns, and other upland species. Reading his entertaining and informative stories will make you want to grab a shotgun, whistle up your dog, and head out the door.”
—Tom Dickson, editor of Montana Outdoors

Wingbeats and Heartbeats is a wingshooter’s odyssey to the wild places where, at the end of the day, the companionship of faithful gun dogs and good friends matters more than a bulging game bag.

In this sometimes humorous and sometimes poignant collection of essays, Dave Books celebrates a time-honored connection to the land and the hard-earned hunting rewards of an outdoor life. Through these essays, readers tag along on adventures in the forests of Wisconsin and Minnesota, the fields of Iowa and North Dakota, the prairies of eastern Montana and Nebraska, the mountains of western Montana and Idaho, and the deserts of Arizona. Books also writes of the game birds that hunters pursue and admire: grouse, quail, woodcock, doves, chukars, Hungarian partridge, and waterfowl.

A heartfelt tribute to the freedom and magic of the hunt, Wingbeats and Heartbeats is a book that has much to say about work and fun, success and failure, and the sights, sounds, and smells of a day afield.

Dave Books is an award-winning writer and former editor of Montana Outdoors. He has followed his gun dogs through forests, fields, and marshes across the Midwest, Northwest, and Southwest for close to forty years. His stories have appeared in Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever, Ducks Unlimited, Sporting Classics, Gun Dog, and The Upland Almanac.


“The strength of his book . . . is that you can dip into each envy-inspiring essay and come out of it with a great appreciation for the sport.”
Big Sky Journal

“Books writes with flair, is irrepressibly good natured and infuses quiet humor in much of his material.”
Sporting Classics Magazine

Media & bookseller inquiries regarding review copies, events, and interviews can be directed to the publicity department at or (608) 263-0734. (If you want to examine a book for possible course use, please see our Course Books page. If you want to examine a book for possible rights licensing, please see Rights & Permissions.)

Of Related Interest
A guide for hunters and the curious alike.A Grouse Hunter’s Almanac
The Other Kind of Hunting
Mark Parman

“There are two kinds of hunting: ordinary hunting, and ruffed-grouse hunting.”—Aldo Leopold, from A Sand County Almanac
•Winner, Sports and Recreation, Midwest Book Awards
•Bronze Medalist, Sports, Foreword Magazine’s Books of the Year


February 2014
LC: 2013015043 SK
228 pp.   5 1/2 x 7 1/4  
10 drawings

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Cloth $21.95 t
ISBN 978-0-299-29470-0
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“Dave Books has spent a long and happy lifetime hunting the high plains of Montana and other Western and Midwestern haunts—and it shows in his new book, seasoned with his wit, humor, and wistfulness for the hunter, hunted, and the outdoors.”
—Mark Herwig, editor of Pheasants Forever Journal


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Updated February 7, 2014

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