“One of boyhood’s traditional toys has come of age. Jim Gasque, North Carolina sportsman, has proved that the ordinary slingshot, when properly made and used, can be an adult weapon of deadly accuracy at distances up to 30’ — a range sufficient for stalking small game. He shoots regular No. 0 buckshot.
“His slingshots are made as shown, the dogwood forks being dried in a slow oven overnight after tying. Instead of inner-tube strips, he uses two rubber bands 1/16” thick, 5/8” wide, and 7½” or 8” long.
“When shooting, he takes a stance similar to that in archery, body at right angles to the target, feet apart, and weight balanced on both feet. Holding the shot cup at the right eye, he stretches the rubber by extending his left arm fully while aligning the target in the sights.”
—Rubber Band Sharpshooter; How a North Carolina Sportsman Makes and Shoots His Slingshots, by Tom Cushing, Modern Mechanix, Aug 1946
Jim Gasque, an outdoor writer from Asheville, NC, authored Hunting and Fishing in the Great Smokies, a classic 1948 work that offers a period portrait of outdoor life in those mountains.
The book, re-released last month by the University of North Carolina, was the first nationally distributed book on fishing in and around the Smokies, although Horace Kephart, who also was a great fan of angling in the region, often wrote about it as well.
Filled with anecdotes, fishing and hunting stories, and recollections of legendary local sportsmen and guides, the book presents a social history of these activities before the founding of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 1934.
Gasque’s guide covers trout fishing on well-known creeks like Cataloochee, Deep, and Hazel; smallmouth bass fishing on rivers like Oconaluftee, Tuckasegee, and others; and lake fishing on Fontana, Nantahala, Chatuge, and Santeetlah. Thanks to careful preservation by the park, the streams Gasque describes still draw sportsmen today.
“The techniques and few flies noted in the book are as deadly on trout today as when the information was penned half a century ago,” says Don Kirk, author of Fly-Fishing Guide to the Great Smoky Mountains. “Gasque’s chapters on Cataloochee and Deep creeks are extremely insightful.” The book offers a nuanced glimpse of the region just prior to an era of significant development and growth.
Gasque is best known for his only other book—Bass Fishing: Techniques, Tactics, and Tales.