Over the course of Havilah Babcock’s career, the South Carolina-based author and educator penned some of the most humorous and insightful hunting and fishing stories ever told—his tales of pursuing bobwhite quail of particular merit and wit.
In addition to teaching, during his nearly 40 years at the University of South Carolina, he published unforgettable articles in Field & Stream, Outdoor Life, and Sports Afield, as well as classic books such as My Health is Better in November and Tales of Quails ’n Such. His devotion to hunting was so fierce that apparently once, before the start of a season, his secretary posted on a bulletin board, “Dr. Babcock will be sick all next week,” a joke his colleagues in the English department undoubtedly understood.
By the time Babcock retired in 1964 and passed away later that year, he’d established himself as among the finest, most good-natured sportsmen to ever put pen to paper. Included are nine of his greatest passages and quips, each a testament to his literary prowess and insight into the sports he so loved. —JR Sullivan
To take advantage of the last precious minutes, you’ve got to stay afield as late as the birds do, regardless of a houseful of guests, the sanguine promises you’ve made the missus, or the overdraft bank notice at home. To heck with everybody and everything when the birds are feeding and fish are biting. Stay late and lie like a dog. —The Best of Babcock
Whenever I need a psychiatrist, I go fly fishing, holding a boat to be superior to a couch any day of the week. A fly rod is good for whatever ails a man. Any incurable infirmity to which the flesh is heir is sure to respond to its persuasive therapy. And it is especially recommended for ulcers, nervous breakdowns, and overdoses of wedlock. —Jaybirds Go to Hell on Friday
This book is dedicated to the Bureau of Internal Revenue, with the hope that it will be of interest to them. —The Education of Pretty Boy
An ideal hunting partner . . . is one who makes it unnecessary for me to praise him. —Trails of Quails ’n Such
Bird hunting is a social pastime, not a solitary adventure. It takes two to do it right; companionship is half the adventure. —Jaybirds Go to Hell on Friday
The tense second before a whopping covey explodes is the most nerve-wracking silence in history. —I Don’t Want to Shoot an Elephant
Modesty is the first requisite in a shooting companion. —Tales of Quails ’n Such
Forever old and forever new, a sunrise is always and never the same. —The Best of Babcock
Retrieving is what makes the difference between a good dog and a great one. It is the icing on the cake, the cherry atop the sundae, the lace on a bride’s pajamas. —Jaybirds Go to Hell on Friday
Pick up a copy of Passages from the Sporting Classics Store for more essential hunting and fishing quotations.