By mail and telephone we get many strange questions about sports and sportsmen. A man called here a few days ago wanting to know what kind of after-shave lotion the big-game hunters on our staff prefer. We were able to answer that one pretty easily. The only big-game hunter on our staff is Writer Virginia Kraft, and she doesn't use the stuff. She does occasionally carry Chanel No. 5 on hunts, using it as a cover up at times when she has been slogging around in a steamy environment for a week or more without a bath.
Although it surprises some people, we do not consider it unusual that our big-game expert is a lady who has taken trophies on five continents and has fallen down the sides of a few mountains in the process. There are something like 18 million licensed hunters in this country. The Winchester gun manufacturers estimate that about one million of these are women. Winchester admits that this estimate is little better than a wild guess, but it seems reasonable to us because wherever hunting guns are fired today, in local bogs or on distant scarps, we find a growing proportion of women.
Virginia Kraft has a full personal life; privately, she is Mrs. Robert D. Grimm, wife of an advertising executive and mother of four. She is also our hunter-writer because she fills the two major requirements of the job. The first of these requirements is an obvious one. She likes to hunt. She relishes the ordeal, enjoys the laughs and appreciates the challenges of the sport. Like most of her earlier stories, her account of the quest of jaguar in the tangled rain-forests of Brazil on page 64 of this issue reflects her consuming interest.
But it takes more than total love of the sport, a knowledge of the quarry and skill with a gun to make a good hunting story. Competence at the typewriter and the long, dull hours spent using it are more important considerations. We get a lot of hunters in the office here who try to sell us one kind of adventure story or another. In the field many of them are as able and as dedicated as our Virginia, but when they sit down at the typewriter, they lose sight of the target, which is to interest and inform the reader. Those of you who read the story of the jaguar hunt in this issue may not feel altogether comfortable, but you are not likely to be bored. It is a job well done with gun and typewriter.
This week Dan Jenkins completes his report on The Best 18 in America (page 32). When he had finished playing the holes on this dream golf course he offered to rank them as to difficulty. Rather than prepare a normal handicap rating of the type found on all scorecards, which gives too much weight to par-5s, Jenkins devised a simple "toughness rating." Here, in descending order of difficulty, is how he ranks the holes: 13th at The Dunes; 5th at Colonial; 14th at Cherry Hills; 2nd at Scioto; 8th at Prairie Dunes; 6th at Seminole; 15th at Oakmont; 12th at Augusta National; 16th at Oakland Hills; 10th at Winged Foot; 3rd at Olympic; 18th at Pebble Beach; 7th at Pine Valley; 17th at Quail Creek; 11th at Merion; 4th at Baltusrol; 9th at Champions; 1st at Merion.
Atop Alaskan grizzly, Writer Kraft relaxes with children following Brazilian expedition.