Library hosting Sept. 28 program on ‘man of the high hills’

Western Carolina University’s Hunter Library will host a free program Thursday, Sept. 28, titled “The Legacy of a Mountain Man: True Adventures in the Smokies” and presented by Jim Casada, a noted outdoors writer and Smokies enthusiast.

The program will be held at 4:30 p.m. in the Special Collections Reading Room of Hunter Library. Casada will discuss the life and times of famed mountaineer Sam Hunnicutt, a Swain County resident known for his wilderness prowess prior to the establishment of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Hunter Library’s Special Collections has published a reissue of Hunnicutt’s rare, regional classic, “Twenty Years of Hunting and Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains,” first published by S.B. Newman & Company of Knoxville, Tennessee, in 1926. The new edition also contains an introduction by Casada, an award-winning writer and photographer from Bryson City and retired Winthrop University professor.

“Samuel Jeter Hunnicutt was a man of the high hills to the core, but even in an era noted for producing rugged individuals and distinctive characters, he stands apart,” Casada said. “He knew the rugged fastness of the Smokies with an uncanny degree of familiarity, and as a sportsman, prospector and ‘sanger’ (ginseng hunter), he took shank’s mare to remote places known to few and visited by even fewer. He knew the agony of being struck by a rattlesnake and the ecstasy of locating a patch of ginseng covering more than an acre, and he managed to squeeze moisture from the sponge of life in a fashion most of us can only envy.”

Hunnicutt’s favorite haunt was the wild, remote and sprawling drainage of Deep Creek, almost all of which now lies within Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Casada said. “With the possible exception of his close hunting and fishing buddy, legendary angler Mark Cathey, no one has ever enjoyed greater familiarity with this backside of heaven,” he said. “In more than two-score tales, all told with a straightforward simplicity totally devoid of literary pretense and singularly lacking in both grace and grammar, he also left posterity a treasure in the heretofore exceedingly rare book.”

A reception will be held following the event. Anyone who joins or renews a membership with Friends of Hunter Library at the event will receive a free copy of the book.

For more information, call 828-227-7474 or email specialcollections@wcu.edu.