Official website of author Bruce Hampton


bruce2From first grade on, I knew I wanted to either play the cello or write books. My dad, a tough ex-Marine who had carried the Pacific war home with him, squelched the first option. So I settled for number two.

Actually, it took me a long time to fulfill that promise since I was into my 40s before starting to write professionally.

What took so long? Let’s back up a moment.

My mom was an avid reader and she patiently read to me at an early age, book after book after book. There was something about stories that drew me ever deeper into reading, the harmony of stringing words together, and I took a particular interest in non-fiction tales.

When my dad’s work took him from Illinois to the Florida coast, I fell head over heels in love with the ocean. Living one block from the beach, my mom enrolled me in the local natural history program. Our house was never the same, filled with shells and sea fans and fish skeletons that I collected on my jaunts up and down the beach. We soon moved to small town in northern Florida, but from that time on, all things wild fascinated me.

There I completed high school and was voted “most studious” by classmates because I enjoyed reading history so much. My other passions were hunting and fishing, spending as much time outdoors as possible. I couldn’t have had a better environment to learn outdoor skills than those Florida swamps and woodlands.

bruce1College followed at the University of Florida, but after a few years I became restless and accompanied by a friend, traipsed off one summer to Alaska. Somehow we landed what had to be the best job of the century, working for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. That magical time in Alaska convinced me that I had to learn more about wildlife biology, so I transferred to the University of Montana, probably the best wildlife school in the world, where I obtained my degree, all with the intention of heading back to Alaska to work as a biologist there. The U.S. Army during the Vietnam War era had other ideas, however, and by the time I got out two years later the Alaska job was gone and I headed off to Wyoming to teach outdoor education at the National Outdoor Leadership School. Climbing, fishing, backpacking, and whitewater boating had always been close to my heart, so it was a good match for many years, working in such wild places as the Wind River Mountains, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, and, yes, even back to Alaska.

There I met my soon-to-be wife and with our own hands we built a log cabin in the snowy shadow of the Tetons, became woodworkers and commercial beekeepers, and finally worked our way back to NOLS in Wyoming. Here we lucked into a wonderful property just outside of town, built another home bordering public land, and raised our two adopted girls, one from China, the other from Korea.

Now back to the beginning where that 40-something finally recalled his writing passion. After retiring from my day job at NOLS in 1988, I wrote (along with scientist David Cole) Soft Paths: How to enjoy the wilderness without harming it, a book about how to lessen human impact on wild lands. By now I had secured a New York literary agent and began another book project, harkening back to my college days in Montana and Idaho where I’d worked summers as a U.S. Forest Service wilderness ranger. The result was Children of Grace: The Nez Perce War of 1877, followed by The Great American Wolf in 1997, a biography of North American wolves during the past 400 years. Soon I was back in Alaska, writing the text for a conservation history, Rivers of Life: The last great wild salmon fishery, published with the landscape photographer Robert Ketchum.

Then a new interest arose along with the Internet: creating websites for environmental nonprofit organizations. I still took on occasional writing projects, but developing websites became my primary way to make a living while helping educate the public about environmental issues. Having recently retired from my website business, I’m now back to writing.

It’s been an exciting journey and I’m working on another writing project now. Please stay tuned!