1. Who was Jack O'Connor® ?
Jack O'Connor® is considered by many outdoor enthusiasts to have been the dean of hunting and firearms writers of the twentieth century.
Jack O'Connor® was born January 22, 1902 in Nogales, Arizona Territory; 10 years before Arizona was granted statehood. He spent most of his childhood in Tempe, Arizona where he graduated high school in 1919. That fall, Jack enlisted in the Navy and served two years aboard the U.S.S. Arkansas. He was discharged in the summer of 1921.
He attended Tempe Normal School College, (now Arizona State University), the University of Arizona in Tucson, and then received a bachelor's degree in finance and banking at the University of Arkansas in 1925.
After graduation, Jack took a year's break from his studies to work as a reporter and rewrite man in Chicago for The Chicago Tribune and the City News Service.
He then enrolled at the University of Missouri, where he earned a Master's Degree in English/Journalism. While there, he met and married Eleanor Barry who became his lifelong hunting companion and mother of their four children: Jerry O'Connor, Bradford O'Connor, Catherine O’Connor and Caroline O'Connor McCullum. Jerry died in 1968, followed by Catherine in 2007.
Jack wrote his first novel, Conquest, in 1930 while teaching at Sul Ross College in Alpine Texas. From 1931 to 1934, He worked in public relations and taught English at Arizona State Teacher’s College at Flagstaff, now Northern Arizona University. In 1934, Jack began his tenure at The University of Arizona where he became the school's first journalism professor. By 1936, he was becoming well known as an outdoor writer on the subject of firearms, hunting, and big game natural history. He also wrote fictional short stories for popular magazines such as Redbook and Saturday Evening Post. By the end of 1936, Jack had an exclusive contract with Outdoor Life, became its gun columnist in 1939 and assumed the position of Arms and Ammunition Editor in 1941. In 1945, Jack resigned from the university and academia and began his full time career as an outdoor writer with Outdoor Life.
In 1948, Jack decided to leave Arizona and move to Idaho. His friend, Vernon Speer of the Speer Bullet Company persuaded him to choose Lewiston and helped him locate a house on Prospect Avenue overlooking the Snake River. That was the O’Connor home for the rest of Jack and Eleanor’s lives.
During his lifetime, Jack wrote 16 hard cover books, along with articles and short stories for publications as diverse as Saturday Evening Post and Outdoor Life. His 31 year tenure as Firearms Editor for Outdoor Life left an indelible imprint on generations of writers and hunters throughout the world. Thirty years after his death, Jack's name still is frequently seen in hunting and firearms magazines and websites. Much of his writing is as relevant today as it was when first penned.
2. What is the Jack O'Connor® Hunting Heritage and Education Center?
The Jack O'Connor® Hunting Heritage and Education Center is a private, non-profit 501(C3) organization associated with the University of Idaho, Lewis and Clark State College, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, and the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation. While the facility is located on and is leased from the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, funding comes from individuals and businesses who support our goals.
The Jack O'Connor® Hunting Heritage and Education Center (JOC) consists of a museum displaying Jack and Eleanor O'Connor's personal collection of animals they harvested over a lifetime of hunting throughout North America, the Indian Subcontinent, Africa and the Middle East. The O'Connor's donated the collection to the University of Idaho when Jack died, and the University has placed it on permanent loan to the Center. Also on display are some of the O'Connor firearms, including Jack's famous .270 Winchester, as well as some of Jack's favorite hunting and writing memorabilia. We are particularly proud of our complete collection of Jack's hard cover books.
We also have a classroom and meeting room that has been used for a variety of educational events and diverse gatherings, including civic associations, family reunions, and wedding receptions. Information on reserving this facility may be obtained by contacting the Center's Administrative Director. (See Contact page
3. What is the mission of the Jack O'Connor® Hunting Heritage and Education Center?
The JOC is dedicated to using the Jack O'Connor® legacy to promote legal, ethical, and ecologically responsible hunting; to educate the public regarding the importance of hunting to our human heritage; and to hunting's essential role in science based wildlife management.
4. How is hunting important to wildlife management?
State wildlife management agencies rely heavily on hunting licenses, tags and fees, along with special taxes on hunting and fishing equipment, to finance their operations. Federal wildlife management also relies on these special taxes, called Pitman-Robinson and Dingle-Johnson taxes.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game receives virtually no money from general state tax revenues. This is true for many other state game and fish agencies.
These agencies provide both biological science expertise and law enforcement to preserve our wildlife heritage.
Hunting is an extremely important tool in managing both prey and predator species. Were we to end human hunting, we would probably be unwilling to accept the natural predation that would inevitably occur on our livestock, our pets and ourselves. In addition, uncontrolled populations of species, such as deer, would destroy habitat for themselves and other animals as well as watershed vital to all of us.
5. I’m Not a Hunter - Why Should I Care?
Hunters founded our American conservation ethics. Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, John James Audubon, John Muir, and Aldo Leopold were all hunters who appreciated the beauty and value of the wildlife around them. Today’s hunters are taught to respect the teachings of these conservationists and to adhere to a code of hunter ethics.
As a Hunter/Conservationist, Jack emphasized the importance of hunting ethics. Jack and writers like him alerted us to the need to protect threatened and endangered species, and to respect both game and non-game animals. Jack's readership was world wide, and included heads of state as well as every day hunters. He was considered a dean among outdoor writers, and his words and philosophy continue to influence writers to this day.
Even if you are not a hunter or a shooter, if you value wildlife, if you appreciate the history of the American West, you owe a debt of gratitude to Jack O'Connor® . You will find his books and articles are timeless, and always satisfying to read.
Facts About Hunting
- Hunters adhere to a strict code of hunting ethics that includes obeying all relevant state and federal laws. Those who do not are poachers, not hunters.
- All state fish and wildlife agencies rely heavily on revenue from hunting and fishing licenses, tags and fees to fund their research and conservation efforts, including non-game programs. For Example, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game receives no revenue from general tax funds.
- Hunting and fishing equipment is subject to special federal taxes under the Dingle-Johnson and Pitman-Robertson Acts, both passed at the urging of hunters. This money is devoted to wildlife management and research, and support of state and federal hunter education and law enforcement.
- No species has been driven to extinction by regulated sport hunting.
- The greatest threat to wildlife is loss of habitat. The main causes are increasing human populations and urban sprawl.
- Only about one in twenty Americans currently buys a hunting license.
- Nationwide, the number of hunters is declining. In Idaho, only four replacement hunters join the ranks for every ten hunters who leave hunting.