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Outdoors encounters come indoors, inside the covers of well-planned and well-written stories and non-fiction books and videos. From dozens of new releases, here are seven good gift possibilities:

"Hunting's Best Short Stories" brings together a collection of powerful tales that appeal to all readers - not just hunters. Paul D. Staudohar edited this collection, keying on classic names (Hemingway, de Maupassant, and others) along with younger, modern-day writers who deal with conditions hunters enjoy and endure today.

David Guterson's "Opening Day," written in 1989, could easily be seen at a popular duck-hunting site this or next season, with a dad, son and granddad experiencing those bonding rituals generations share while on a hunt.

"The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber" has been assigned in almost every college reading or writing course for decades. This Hemingway nugget pits man and animal in darkest Africa, with a balanced dose of story-telling excitement plus a close view of an ego caught up in that thrill-of-the-kill.

Richard Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game" takes that kill struggle even further in a man-hunting-man "game" that has appeared in many forms since Connell first published this short story in 1925.

Corey Ford, best know for his humorous "The Lower Forty" columns printed in Field & Stream before and well after his death in 1969, appears as a concluding story in this collection. "The Road to Tinkhamtown" published in 1970, warmly relates the feelings a man senses while facing death.

"Hunting's Best Short Stories" ($16.95) is available at bookstores or can be ordered directly by calling 1-800-888-4741.

"Birding in Central and Western New York" covers just what the title and subtitle promise: "Best Trails and Water Routes for Finding Birds." Norman E. Wolfe pinpoints best bird-watching sites from Route 81 (Syracuse south to Binghamton) west to Interstate 90 along the Lake Erie shoreline.

Each of the 40 sites featured provides a map and pertinent information about where and when to go when finding and using each birding location. This Footprint Press text ($16.95 plus state tax) can be purchased directly by calling 1-800-431-1579. For a list of other books, write: Footprint Press, box 645, Fishers, NY 14453 or see the Web site:

"Hunting the Whole Way Home," by Sydney Lea, ($16.95), from Lyons Press, was first published in 1994, mixes prose and poetry in describing that search that is the life of hunting. In a new Introduction accompanying this 2002 publication, Lea writes: "May all the voices that have conditioned my own still have the refreshing virtues and vigors of the many waters I know up here (in Vermont), the many woods and hills."

Lea then goes on to enhance the world of fishing and hunting in ways that would appeal to anyone who has ever stepped outdoors.

Rich Tosches' "Zipping My Fly," a PG-rated fishing book with a catchy title, humorously hooks the reader right from the start with his comments on "Moments in the Life of an American Sportsman." Tosches, humor columnist for the Colorado Springs Gazette, amuses in chapters such as "Hail to the Herring," 'Bite my Kiwi, Mate," "The Drivel Runs Through it," "Vail to the Chef," "Dick Butkus Smells Like a Fish," and so many others. This hardcover Penguin Putnam book is available at area bookstores ($19.95) or through the Web site:

Jack Hemingway's "A Life Worth Living, The Adventures of a Passionate Sportsman," presents 60 years of memoirs from Earnest Hemingway's son and heir to his outdoors spirit.

Jack Hemingway, with his famous father and celebrity children, does not get lost in the aura of being a Hemingway. Simply pleased to be connected with the outdoors, he wrote in his brief introduction, "The only waves I have made have been in the currents of trout and salmon streams . . . "

He does just that with passion and perseverance in his second and final book on fishing and being outdoors. "A Life Worth Living" ($24.95) was published by The Lyons Press in 2002 after his death in 2000. Call (800) 962-0973.

Durwood Hollis follows up his Krause Publication on Elk in 2000 with a 2002 summation of first-hand outings in "Hunting North American Big Game." Starting with whitetail deer and covering every species from Coues deer to Javelina, Hollis then shares useful tips in chapters on gun calibers, optics, clothes, boots, game care and knowing all the basics needed to be ready for the hunt. To order ($24.95), call 1-800-258-0929.

Bruce "Buck" Nelson lives in Fairbanks Alaska, but for Buck a true outdoors adventure would be to travel and hunt along the Brooks Range in northern Alaska. That is what he shows in a spectacular video titled: "Alaska Hunting Adventure: 700 Miles Alone by Backpack and Raft."

Nelson, a wiry smoke jumper for more than 20 years, hoofs and floats his way down river through sheep country, caribou ranges, moose, bear, wolf and even wolverine sightings. Between hunts, he casts a line for grayling, salmon and pike in northern Alaska's late-August and early-September sunshine and snow.

This 75-minute, VHS ($22.95 including shipping) can be ordered from: Buck Publishing, 867 Esro Rd. No. 2, Fairbanks, Alaska 99712 or from the Web site:

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