Blevins wrote Give Your Heart to the Hawks: A Tribute to the Mountain Men. That book and Ted Franklin Belue’s The Hunters of Kentucky (which was also influenced by Hawks) shaped the tone and format of my own book and this blog. I wrote back in 2012:
Back when I was a mere stripling I spent hours trolling the shelves of Bob’s Valley Bookstore in the old hometown. It was there that I first saw the Frazetta covers on the old Conan paperbacks I would soon steal from my brother (OK, he let me read them). The racks held all kinds of pulpy goodness, like John Benteen’s Sundance books.
And there I saw a paperback with a picture of a buckskinned man on horseback, rifle cradled in his left arm, riding down a rocky slope (it was done by the Western artist Frank McCarthy, whose work appeared in a whole bunch of Louis L’Amour calendars). The title was “Give Your Heart to the Hawks: A Tribute to the Mountain Men.” The author was Winfred Blevins.
Now, back then, I didn’t know much at all about the mountain men or the Rocky Mountain West. I knew a great deal about the Kentucky frontiersmen of the late 18th Century, and I knew plenty about the post-Civil War Wild West, but everything in between was pretty much a blank space on the map. I’d seen “Jeremiah Johnson” (the first movie I saw in a theater), but I was just seven or so and I didn’t follow up.
Anyway, “Hawks” intrigued the hell out of me and I hied off to the library and tracked the book down — and devoured it in great big juicy chunks, like a mountain man feasting on a buffalo. Stories of legendary proportions, told in a colloquial style that felt like they were being told around a campfire. John Colter’s run from the Blackfeet; Hugh Glass’ epic survival crawl after being mauled by a griz and left for dead; cat-and-mouse with the Blackfeet…
Blevins wrote a really strong series of Mountain Man novels, most of which I’ve read and enjoyed. He struck a spark off of the flint and steel of history and folklore, and he kindled a young boys dreams. I raise a horn to Win Blevins and hope he’s in the land of fine beaver streams and fat cow buffler.