Sportsman George Bird Evans (December 26, 1906-May 5, 1998) was an author, illustrator, and dog breeder. He was born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, and educated at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Technical Institute (now Carnegie Mellon University) and the Chicago Art Institute. He earned pocket money playing jazz saxophone. Having married Kay Harris of Wheeling in January 1931, he moved to New York City where he freelanced as an illustrator for Cosmopolitan magazine and other publications.
In 1939, Evans bought a historic farm near Brandonville in Preston County. The place was named Old Hemlock for its stand of virgin hemlock timber, and here Evans bred the Old Hemlock line of grouse-hunting setters. Commissioned as a lieutenant (junior grade) by the U.S. Navy, he spent World War II in Washington doing perspective drawings to illustrate repairs to damaged planes and ships.
Evans wrote 27 upland shooting books based on his shooting journals begun in 1934, and 115 magazine stories and reviews, as well as book introductions and other short pieces. He published many of his own books, often as limited editions. He wrote of the beauty of bird-dog grouse hunting, not always accompanied by a kill. Living an eccentric and reclusive life, George and Kay jointly wrote five mystery books from 1950 to 1960 using the pen name Brandon Bird. One, Hawk Watch, was set in Berkeley Springs.
Exciting his readers with descriptions of his hunting experiences and life at Old Hemlock, Evans developed a loyal following. He often castigated state hunting authorities for what he felt to be West Virginia’s overlong grouse season, which he said was responsible for the birds’ depleted population. George Evans died in Morgantown. Old Hemlock estate, including a circa 1780s house carefully expanded by Evans soon after he bought the place, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2014.
This Article was written by Peggy Ross
Last Revised on July 27, 2015
Evans, George Bird. Grouse on the Mountain. Brandonville, WV: Old Hemlock, 1994.
Evans, George Bird. Troubles with Bird Dogs. New York: Winchester Press, 1975.
Harper, Catherine A. George Bird Evans: Life of a Shooting Gentleman. Minocqua, WI: Willow Creek Press, 1999.
Cite This Article
Ross, Peggy "George Bird Evans." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 27 July 2015. Web. 31 July 2015.