Stephen Hunter crafts some of the best books out there, and he easily ranks among my favorite authors.
I studied his novels extensively as I undertook the more mature phase of my writing career in my early twenties, and I’m now re-reading “Point of Impact” for at least the fourth or fifth time.
Quick sidenote: For those who don’t know, Hunter created Bob Lee Swagger for Point of Impact, as well as the books that follow in the series. And Swagger, aka “Bob the Nailer,” remains one of the best and most iconic characters you’ll find anywhere.
Here are two major pieces of wisdom from the great Marine Sniper, Bob Lee Swagger, that I just unearthed. Please note, in both scenes he’s describing a trophy buck that lives up above him, and that he’s named Old Tim.
First piece of wisdom: Strive to be tough
“Old Tim, scarred and beat up, with many an adventure behind him. Tim would be alone, too: Tim didn’t have a harem, and didn’t need one anymore. One year Tim had had a prong of antler shot off by some lucky city dick from Little Rock and looked out of balance for a whole season. Tim had limped another whole year because Sam Vincent, not as spry as once he’d been, had held sloppy and put a .45-70 softpoint — too much gun, but Sam loved that old Winchester — into his haunches, and only bled him bad enough to kill any normal buck.
“Tim was tough, Bob knew, and that was the kindest word he had for anybody, living or dead.”
Second piece of wisdom: Live in the present
“Bob loved their magic. When he had hunted men, there was no magic. Men were stupid. They farted and yakked and gave themselves away miles before they moved into the killing zone.
“But the deer, particularly the old Ouachita stags, appeared like ghosts, simply exploding out of brushy nothingness, as if they were superior visitors from another planet. And they were superior, in their way, Bob knew: their senses were so razor keen, everything focused on the next two minutes. That was their secret. They didn’t think about the last two minutes, which had ceased entirely to exist in the second after they were experienced, had evaporated entirely. They only thought about the next two minutes. No past, no real future. There was only now.”
One final endnote. For those who hate the thought of Bob Lee Swagger killing this fine deer, fear not. Bob only shoots it with a plastic bullet designed to stun the deer. And each year, he hunts it, shoots it in the spine with this plastic bullet, and then in the few minutes that it’s immobile, he saws off its antlers.
Bob doesn’t believe in killing, and he hates the thought that scores of hunters ascend into the mountains to kill this trophy buck. So his act of hunting and removing its trophy rack is one of mercy.
Keep the faith,
Stan R. Mitchell
Oak Ridge, Tenn.
About me: I’m a full-time, action-fiction author with books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and a guy who spent 10+ years writing every day in the newspaper business. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about things that either motivate you, inspire you, or make you laugh.