I’ve read a lot of mediocre hunting stories, and written a few myself. An engaging story is a fine balance between action and reflection, and often the meat of it isn’t in pursuing the animal. E. Donnall Thomas Jr.’s collection of stories in Traditional Bows and Wild Places: A Lifetime Afield with Bow and Arrow (Spring Creek Enterprises, $23) are as much about the people and the places as they are about the moose on the Mulchatna or caribou on the tundra. The book opens with Thomas living and guiding in Alaska. In essence, the stories are about trips with the guys. For those who, in their younger days, shirked responsibility and disappeared into the woods for weeks on end, Thomas’s stories will evoke nostalgia the same way John Gierach’s do for anglers. So if I’m nowhere to be found come October, it’s because I’m in Alaska, rowing softly through a back-channel marsh listening for the call of rutting moose, and I’ll let Don Thomas explain it to my boss.