The Coolest Jack O’Connor Photographs from Our Archives


IT IS DIFFICULT, if unwise, to speak in regards to the historical past of Outside Life with out speaking about Jack O’Connor. He offered his first story to the journal in 1934; two years later, he had secured a one-year contract to jot down 18 Outside Life articles for $2,700. (That’s roughly the equal of $58,000 at the moment.) By the point he retired from the journal in 1972, he had written some 1,200 articles. These are a handful of the pictures—revealed and excluded as outtakes—from these tales.

Jack O'Connor with a pronghorn buck.
O’Connor with an Arizona pronghorn. This was an unpublished shot from the April 1939 story, “Antelopes to Order.” Outside Life

With a whole bunch of our previous capturing editor’s* adventures and columns to type via, it’s difficult to piece collectively every picture’s exact context. This assortment of unique JOC images has been filed in our archives for many years, solely seeing the sunshine after we want artwork for an anniversary celebration or a sheep story. The few particulars scrawled on the backs in grease pencil are sometimes illegible—a 12 months right here, a location there. Largely, they’re simply stamped “Outside Life.”

Jack O'Connor with a moose.
O’Connor shakes arms together with his information after a profitable moose hunt. The observe on the again of the {photograph} reads: “This moose took 3-130 gr. Silvertip [sic] via the lungs earlier than he went down.” It seems to be an unused shot for an Arms and Ammunition column within the Forties, although the hunt itself doubtless appeared in a later function story. Outside Life

When you could not have seen many of those pictures earlier than, devoted O’Connor followers have nearly actually learn in regards to the hunts behind them. As O’Connor’s son Bradwell as soon as identified, “Dad’s hunts—all of them, even his afternoon sashays from dwelling or workplace into the Arizona desert for quail and jackrabbits or in later years for upland birds or rock chucks in Idaho—in the end confirmed up in his writings.” Even with out the specifics, the pictures stay helpful in their very own proper. They seize O’Connor’s confidence and experience, his aloofness and relatability. Most of all they mirror a singular period in searching historical past, and the hunter who helped outline it.

*O’Connor’s titles on the masthead embody arms and ammunition editor, gun editor, capturing editor, and searching editor.

Jack O'Connor with a rifle.
The observe on this OL file picture merely reads, “Jack O’Connor, 1950.”

Jack O’Connor in Africa

O’CONNOR FIRST went on safari in the summertime of 1953, spending greater than three months in Kenya and what’s now Tanzania. Outside Life was the primary out of doors journal to ship its capturing editor on safari, based on former editor-in-chief Invoice E. Rae. Whereas O’Connor would go on to jot down 15 tales from that journey, the primary was about his hunt for the lion pictured above. That story ran within the November 1953 problem; that picture didn’t. O’Connor was recognized for writing about his missed photographs (a follow amongst out of doors writers that is still much less frequent than the misses), and he did so in “Lions Don’t Come Straightforward.”

“As we sneaked again to the automobile I used to be about as little as I’ve been in all my life,” he wrote. “I had dreamed for 40 years of killing a great-maned lion. Two of them had been tossed into my lap—and I had flubbed the chance like an excited schoolboy lacking his first buck.”

O’Connor later found his riflescope had rattled unfastened. He finally killed his first lion with his Model 70 in .375 Magnum. “Because the 71.5 grains of No. 4064 powder exploded and drove the 270-grain soft-point bullet into the nice cat’s neck,” he wrote, “all hell broke unfastened.”

The Coolest Old Jack O’Connor Photos from the Outdoor Life Archives
The O’Connors hunted collectively in Zambia in 1969, every taking lions only a few days aside. Jack’s spouse, Eleanor, killed hers a couple of days after her husband did, along with her Mannequin 70 Winchester in .30/06. They took their final safari in 1972—the identical 12 months Jack retired from OL—in what’s now Namibia. That makes a complete of eight safari’s in Jack’s lifetime.

“His nice sandy physique was as easy and spherical as a sausage,” he wrote of the large cat. “His blond mane was heavy, shaggy, lengthy. Don Ker advised me he most likely weighed 500 kilos, and was one of many largest lions he had seen in 27 years as a white hunter. From the tip of his nostril to the final joint of his tail he was 9 toes seven inches lengthy as he lay there. All in all, he was some lion, and of all of the trophies I’ve taken, the one one which has given me a better thrill was the primary desert ram I stood over, nearly 1 / 4 of a century earlier and a half a world away.”

Jack O'Connor with an eland buck.
Jack O’Connor kneels beside a record-book eland taken together with his Mannequin 70 in .375 Magnum. An East African eland with 27-inch-long horns is a “very high-quality specimen.” This one measured 32 1/2 inches. Outside Life

ALTHOUGH O’CONNOR killed an eland on that first safari (he received distracted by bull whereas searching lions), the one pictured right here is from a later journey together with his spouse, Eleanor. This shade {photograph} of O’Connor kneeling beside a record-book eland has been picked up by many publications to accompany normal articles about JOC. Not, I believe, as a result of most readers know eland after they see one (such tales by no means really point out his eland hunts), however as a result of it’s such portrait. High quality shade photographs of the capturing editor at this age are laborious to return by, and this is a superb certainly one of each the hunter and his .375 Magnum. It initially ran within the August 1961 story “Massive as an Ox.” This zebra {photograph} (beneath) ran in the identical story.

Jack and Eleanor O'Connor with a zebra.
This picture initially ran within the 1961 story “Massive as an Ox” with the caption: “O’Connors with a high-quality Kilombero zebra bagged by Mrs. O’Connor.” Kilombero is a area in what’s now southwest Tanzania. Outside Life

“Our social gathering was one of many final to hunt the Simiyu nation; not lengthy after we pulled out it was made a part of the Serengeti Nationwide Park,” O’Connor wrote in 1961. “However what a searching nation it was after we have been there!”

Jack O’Connor in North America

WHILE HIS TRAVELS took him all around the world, O’Connor was greatest recognized for his adventures within the Southwest and, after all, sheep searching.

Jack O'Connor hunting mule deer.
That is an unused picture from the January 1939 story, “What, No White-Tails?” It was from a hunt for Coues deer in Sonora. O’Connor, left, deliberate his hunt with Epifanio Aguirre, a Sonoran ranch proprietor, in November 1937—doubtless the rider pictured right here. Outside Life

“That is the account of a hunt for white-tails in a area, the place, based on the authorities, no white-tails reside,” O’Connor wrote about Mexican Coues deer within the January 1939 story, “What, No White-Tails?” “Maps of their distribution present the entire coastal desert of the Mexican state of Sonora is void of them. Truly, I’ve seen them there by the a whole bunch. I advised a scientist that when, however he raised his eyebrows, and pulled out a distribution map to point out me. I used to be unsuitable, he was proper—the e-book mentioned so. Additional, he advised me, the white-tail couldn’t exist with out open water. So once more I used to be unsuitable. Therefore the journey about which I’m writing. Once I went into Sonora within the fall of 1937, I wished to convey again entire household of desert white-tails for the Arizona State Museum, so my skeptical scientist buddy might see them.”

Jack O'Connor with a mule deer buck.
An unused {photograph} from the Could 1941 story “Sonora Luck—Blended.” Outside Life

O’Connor wrote about one other Sonoran hunt within the Could 1941 story, “Sonora Luck—Blended.” This time he was attempting to find desert mule deer whereas based mostly out of La Primavera, a “typical desert ranch, with a giant adobe home, the place the foreman, his household, and his son-in-law lived.”

Jack O'Connor with a gambel's quail.
An unused picture of O’Connor with a Gambel’s quail from the September 1939 story, “The Quail Got here to Us.” Outside Life

BIG GAME OCCUPIED a lot of O’Connor’s tales, however he was a religious hen hunter who wrote usually about Gambel’s quail particularly. This portrait (above) is an unused picture from a 1939 story the place he and Eleanor lucked into coveys with out doing a lot work in any respect.

“I’ve been searching birds and large sport ever since I might observe my father and grandfather afield,” he wrote. “I’ve seen many unusual things-mountain sheep on the flats, a swimming wildcat, a giant buck that chased me—however these self-driven quail topped something I’ve encountered in thirty years of searching.”

As many longtime readers know, O’Connor usually hunted together with his spouse, Eleanor, and she or he appeared ceaselessly in his tales. They met at a mixer whereas attending the College of Missouri (the place O’Connor was incomes a graduate diploma in journalism) and eloped in 1927. Jim Casada writes in The Lost Classics of Jack O’Connor that as a result of O’Connor misplaced his searching mentor on the age of 13, when his grandfather died, he was significantly obsessed with taking others searching.

Eleanor O'Connor with gambels quail.
Additional images of Eleanor O’Connor that weren’t included within the story “The Quail Got here to Us.” Outside Life

“…The sporting deprivations of his later adolescent years influenced Jack an ideal deal, as a result of as soon as he had a household of his personal, he constantly made a degree of sharing his searching experiences with them … Jack shared his ardour for searching with Eleanor and took nice pleasure in her marksmanship, and in every one of many many sporting milestones attained by his household.”

In the identical e-book, Bradford O’Connor additionally notes his father’s marksmanship (and fondness for hen searching), which endured to his remaining days: “On our final upland hunt collectively a couple of months earlier than Dad’s loss of life in 1978, a giant pheasant rooster flushed from a clump of brush about 50 yards away. I didn’t shoot, however Dad shouldered his 28-gauge Arizaga, mentioned, “effectively, hell,” and fired, dropping the hen. We stepped off 70 yards. The rooster was hit by a single No. 6 pellet within the head.”

Jack O'Connor with a stone sheep.
O’Conner’s greatest stone ram was taken on the Prophet Bench in 1946. It was, as he writes, 14 7-7/8 x 41 1/2, and No. 10 in two file books. Outside Life

ONE OF O’CONNOR’S lasting contributions to searching are his sheep tales. You may learn a lot of these unique tales in again points and Outdoor Life treasuries, however his ideas on the topic are collected in Sheep and Sheep Hunting. Within the foreword, he wrote:

“I don’t suppose that there’s any doubt however that a big previous ram of any North American sheep species carries extra status than every other. The nice ram is comparatively uncommon, and securing one requires laborious work, judgment, and self-control. Many an Alaskan brown bear has been shot by fats previous males with emphysema and fallen arches after a brief stalk alongside a stage seashore. Many a grizzly has been collected when he has come to dine on a lifeless horse used for bait. These nice cats, the lion and the tiger, have been baited and pushed and shot by previous males who wouldn’t stroll a mile if their lives trusted it. However the wild ram is present in excessive and customarily tough nation. Typically ram nation is so excessive and so tough that the searching is harmful. I’ve come near breaking my neck within the low however very tough mountains of Sonora, and as soon as in Iran I took a tumble and broke and cracked a half-dozen ribs. Searching at 11,000 toes in Wyoming, I as soon as made a scramble up a steep ridge that left me so in need of wind that for a second I questioned if I used to be having a coronary heart assault.”

Jack OConnor sheep hunting
An unused shot from the April 1947 story, “Day in Ram Heaven.” The stone sheep pictured right here had 42-inch curls. Outside Life

O’Connor credited a lot of his sheep searching success to his “greater than common expertise” and to the truth that he “started sheep searching lengthy earlier than sheep searching grew to become modern.”

“He fretted over his function in making a Grand Slam hysteria,” Bradford O’Connor as soon as wrote. “He’s mentioned to have been the fifth individual to bag all 4 types of North American wild sheep, and he blamed a brand new breed of prosperous and extremely cell hunter for turning the Grand Slam into a standing image. He mentioned too many Grand Slam seekers have been so pushed by greed and ego that they cared little in regards to the sights, sounds, and smells of sheep nation.”

The Coolest Old Jack O’Connor Photos from the Outdoor Life Archives
O’Connor wrote in regards to the hunt for this Yukon Dall in “The Taking pictures Gallery Ram,” which ran within the March 1957 problem. The broomed ram measured 39 3/4 inches on the proper and 40 1/4 inches on the left. This {photograph} is an outtake that was not included within the unique story.

By the tip of his personal searching profession, O’Connor had accomplished two sheep Grand Slams. “If I’ve discovered one factor in 40 years of looking for the majestic wild ram,” he wrote in 1971, “it’s that searching him just isn’t a privilege to be taken flippantly.”

Jack O'connor's trophy room in Idaho.
O’Connor’s trophy room, pictured right here circa 1950, was a separate constructing simply behind his dwelling in Lewiston, Idaho. Outside Life

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