From the Editor
It is with great sadness that I report the passing of a giant in the sporting world: Michael McIntosh. Following a period of failing health, Michael passed away August 14 due to complications from pneumonia. He was 64.
Michael was born December 7, 1945, in Ottumwa, Iowa. He graduated from Ottumwa High School and received a bachelor’s degree in English from Iowa Wesleyan College and a master’s in English literature from the University of Iowa. He also studied at Princeton and UCLA. He was a Shakespearean scholar and a professor of English literature at Missouri Western State College. He was a staff writer and editor for the Missouri Dept. of Conservation before becoming a full-time freelance writer.
Michael was prolific. In addition to countless magazine articles, he wrote or edited 29 books about guns, sporting and wildlife art, natural history and travel. His body of work includes Best Guns, A.H. Fox, Shotgun Technicana, three volumes of Shotguns and Shooting, Traveler’s Tales, and what I’m told was his personal favorite: Wild Things.
Michael has been a contributor to Shooting Sportsman since the magazine’s inception, first as a feature writer, then becoming the Gun Review Editor in 1988 and the Shooting Editor in 1996. For several years he co-wrote the Technicana column with his good friend David Trevallion. (David’s tribute to Michael appears on page 14.) At various times he also wrote for Sporting Classics, Gun Dog, The Double Gun Journal and Wildlife Art. But Michael was much more than a writer and an editor; he was an inspiration, a mentor and a friend to many.
I had the pleasure of spending time with Michael at sporting shows and on several of our Readers & Writers Adventures, and his graciousness, welcoming manner and modesty were impressive. Always approachable, Michael shared his knowledge of guns and shooting with anyone who asked, and he gladly made time to sign books or talk with fans.
One of my favorite memories is of a day spent with Michael, the late Robert F. Jones (who wrote our Dawn Patrol column) and guide Bob Tinker walking the South Dakota grasslands for prairie grouse. It was a crisp fall day with bright blue skies and plenty of birds, and all of us were shooting especially well. What I remember most, however, was the midday break—a half-hour spent sitting in the grass with Michael and the two Bobs, listening to their stories, watching Michael relax holding a pipe in one hand, rubbing a setter’s ear with the other, and generally basking in the whole experience. Truly a man in his element doing what he enjoyed most.
Less than a week before he died, Michael and I spoke on the phone for about 45 minutes one morning. We bounced around between subjects—from the weather to our families to the gamebird outlook for the fall. We spent time remembering our good friend Tim Leary (“Jethro,” as Michael called him), who passed away seven years ago. Eventually we got on the topic of writing, and Michael said how much he admired the work of his late friends Gene Hill, John Madson and Ed Zern. He said he especially appreciated their ability to say so much in so few words. I replied by telling Michael how much his writing was admired and about all the compliments I’d received about it through the years. “Really?” he said, obviously surprised. “I’d never heard that.” In hindsight, I’m really glad I mentioned it.
Now Michael’s voice has been silenced. The hole that his passing leaves is impossible to fill. Michael’s writing inspired generations of wingshooters and helped fuel the resurgence in interest in fine guns in the US and abroad. Sportsmen have him to thank for much of what we enjoy today.
We will miss him dearly.
- By: Ralph P. Stuart