George Leonard Herter

Min­neso­ta entre­pre­neur, out­doors­man and author. In 1939 Hert­er (d. 1994) began run­ning his fam­i­ly busi­ness dry-goods store in Wase­ca, MN. Opened an addi­tion­al store in Mitchell, SD and by the 1950s he began a mail-order sup­ply busi­ness, even­tu­al­ly pro­duc­ing the world-famous Hert­er’s cat­a­log of out­doors equip­ment and sport­ing goods sup­plies — from duck calls and fish­ing lures, knives and ammo, rifle dies, clean­ing sup­plies and cloth­ing to snow­mo­biles and fiber­glass boats — an eclec­tic cat­a­logue that soon includ­ed Hert­er’s self-pub­lished wild­ly eccen­tric (and basi­cal­ly insane) books, from a famous cook­book to books on wine­mak­ing, guns, and oth­er sur­vival­ist top­ics. [wiki] [google]



The Herter’s Catalog

The motto of Hert­er’s, Inc. showed up on every print­ed page of their annu­al cat­a­logs: Where wildlife can­not live, humans can­not sur­vive. Back in the day, the com­pa­ny’s prod­ucts were used and cher­ished by hunters, fish­er­men, trap­pers, boaters and out­doors­men of all per­sua­sions. If you spend enough time on fish­ing forums today, you’ll run into the old­er folks rem­i­nisc­ing on their youth­ful days perus­ing through a Hert­er’s, such as these nos­tal­gic thoughts and mem­o­ries of the 1974 Hert­er’s cat­a­log. The cat­a­logs lib­er­al­ly includ­ed Hert­er’s essays and advice, which were heed­ed by them all — such as his infor­ma­tive and quixot­ic “How to Buy an Out­door Knife.” [full text, scroll down]

Pages from the Herter’s Catalog

While no entire cat­a­logs have been dig­i­tized and put online, you can catch tan­ta­liz­ing glimpses of some of the cat­a­logs online if you know where to look. Try here for images of some pages: a page from the 1955 Gun Acces­so­ry Cat­a­log,
a full-page scan of the Hert­er’s minibike (the “Hert­er’s Hud­son Bay Hunter, Fish­er­man, Beach, Tun­dra, Trap­per and Camper Bikes”), a box for the “world-famous tiger tail” (scroll down), and
a col­or cov­er.

The var­i­ous goods and prod­ucts them­selves were of gen­er­al­ly high qual­i­ty, and are sought-after col­lectibles today. [search]

Hert­er’s, Inc. was nom­i­nat­ed as part of the MN150 exhib­it, (150 peo­ple, places and things that shape the state of Min­neso­ta): Whether you were 10 or 100, a pil­grim­age to Hert­er’s cap­tured every young sports­man­’s imag­i­na­tion through the lat­ter half of the 20th cen­tu­ry.’s%2C_Inc.

While the Hert­er’s show­room is gone, ves­tiges remain; GLH made arrange­ments so that Cabela’s would now han­dle dis­tri­b­u­tion of their prod­ucts and to this day Cabela’s con­tin­ues to han­dle the world famous Inter­net domain. You can browse the remain­ing inventory, which at this wrigin includes out­door cam­ou­flage cloth­ing and world-famous life-size duck decoys.


Herter’s books today

Some books were writ­ten and pub­lished in con­junc­tion with his wife, Berthe E. Hert­er. George Hert­er enjoyed talk­ing about his asso­ci­a­tions with Ernest Hem­ing­way, and in fact he made thou­sands of orig­i­nal claims. He claimed to have the true knowl­edge of the Mar­ti­ni cock­tail and its orig­i­nator, who (claimed Hert­er) also invent­ed anoth­er “world-class” cock­tail, the Mar­ti­ni Ver­boten, whose sec­ond ingre­di­ent is apple cider vine­gar.

While Hert­er pro­duced large quan­ti­ties of his books, some titles can be dif­fi­cult to obtain. Col­lectors hoard and cher­ish their copies. Many remain in the pos­s­e­sion of indi­vid­u­als who first pur­chased them, or passed on to their fam­i­lies, but some are final­ly begin­ning to become avail­able. Check eBay [search] and Ama­zon, where many of the impor­tant Hert­er titles can still be obtained at rea­son­able prices:



  • [amazonify]B0006WA3GI::text::::How to make the finest wines at home in old glass or plas­tic bot­tles and jugs for as lit­tle as 10 [cents] a gal­lon[/amazonify] has lit­tle about old bot­tles and jugs but much enter­tain­ing read­ing on beer, wine, cock­tails, recipes and home-brew­ing.

  • [amazonify]B000RT403M::text::::How To Get Out Of The Rat Race And Live On $10 A Month[/amazonify]

  • [amazonify]0880013907::text::::Bull Cook and Authen­tic Histor­i­cal Recipes and Prac­tices[/amazonify] is GLH’s Mas­ter­work and could be the odd­est most insane cook­book ever writ­ten. First sen­tence: “I will start with meats, fish, eggs, soups and sauces, sand­wich­es, veg­eta­bles, the art of French fry­ing, desserts, how to dress game, how to prop­er­ly sharp­en a knife, how to make wines and beer, how to make French soap and also what to do in case of hydro­gen or cobalt bomb attack, keep­ing as much in alpha­bet­i­cal order as pos­si­ble.” Huge! Pro­fuse­ly Illus­trat­ed! [more] Note that some edi­tions also con­tain Hert­er’s descrip­tions and infor­ma­tion con­cern­ing the var­i­ous and most impor­tant [amazonify]B001NGITYY::text::::Famous Restau­rants and Night Clubs of the World[/amazonify]!

  • [amazonify]B000YLP8RU::text::::Euro­pean and Amer­i­can Pro­fes­sion­al Sour­dough Cook­ing and Recipes[/amazonify] is charm­ing­ly illus­trat­ed and would make a fine hol­i­day gift for any occa­sion.

  • [amazonify]B0006W7TL0::text::::Pro­fes­sion­al guide’s man­u­al[/amazonify]

  • [amazonify]B001RVASAS::text::::George the House­wife and How to Diet and Nev­er be Hun­gry[/amazonify] con­tains Hert­er’s unique approach to diet­ing, a method and tech­nique quite pos­si­bly not used by any oth­er pro­gram ever devised. Does not pro­duce hunger!


  • [amazonify]B000HDUZEQ::text::::George The House­wife …[/amazonify]

  • [amazonify]B000YIIUUK::text::::Secret Fresh and Salt Water Fish­ing Tricks of the World’s Fifty Best Pro­fes­sion­al Fish­er­man (Plus The Pro­fes­sion­al Secrets of Fish­ing Rods and How Fish­ing Rods are Made)[/amazonify]. Com­plete­ly Illus­trat­ed. Fan­tas­tic thought­ful and unique­ly “retro” gift for the sport fish­er­man or out­doorsy type guy.

  • [amazonify]B0006YUQLI::text::::How to Live with a Bitch[/amazonify]. A prac­ti­cal guide on mar­riage. Per­son­al advice and tips, based on Real World Expe­ri­ence.

  • [amazonify]B000MKLGG0::text::::Hert­er’s Pro­fes­sion­al Course in the Sci­ence of Mod­ern Taxi­dermy[/amazonify] (with Myron E. Bar­rie).

  • [amazonify]B000PF9JCU::text::::Con­densed Pro­fes­sion­al Load­ing of Rifle, Pistol, and Shot­gun Car­tridges Includ­ing Pres­sures and Veloc­i­ties and Reload­ing Data for Gun and Ammu­ni­tion Man­u­fac­tur­ers Pro­fes­sion­al and Ama­teur Tar­get Shoot­ers, Game Hunters and Guides[/amazonify] (with Jacques Pierre Hert­er).

  • [amazonify]B000VO06R2::text::::Pro­fes­sion­al and Ama­teur Archery Tour­na­ment and Hunt­ing Instruc­tions and Ency­clo­pe­dia[/amazonify] (with Rus­sell Hofmeis­ter).


Reminisces and articles

The great­est cook book writer in history” — so begins Mark Gel­bart’s 2005 arti­cle on The Bull Cook.

Also that year, Stephen Bodio post­ed a GLH rem­i­nis­cence that dis­cuss­es some of the books. Bodio points out a few Her­t­erisms, includ­ing this gem, from 1963’s [amazonify]B0007JC3RC::text::::The Truth About Hunt­ing in Today’s Africa[/amazonify]: “Most peo­ple don’t real­ize that being eat­en by a hye­na does­n’t hurt very much.”

Bob Zim­mer­man wrote an essay on his mem­o­ries of the Hert­er’s cat­a­log back in the 1960s.

The arti­cle “Clas­sic Cook­books Cre­ate Some Wild Con­jec­tur­ing” con­tains a recipe for Steak Aflame.

Don’t miss Out Your Back­door’s mem­o­ries of Bull Cook and the Hert­er’s cat­a­log — he talks about how it con­tained silk, gems, cured salmon and maple syrup (!) and pos­tu­lates that Hert­er’s began to decline once the ban on sell­ing guns through mail-order went in place.

From Guns Mag­a­zine, April 2005: “… in my youth their cat­a­log was the wish book for all things out­doors.”

George Camp­bel­l’s 2007 rem­i­nis­cence of a boy­hood por­ing over the Hert­er’s cat­a­log, “Remem­ber­ing Hert­er’s — An Icon­o­clast’s History” (scroll down) reminds us that George Hert­er was a mas­ter mar­keter.

In 2008, Hert­er was pro­files in the New York Times (Dec 7 2008).”>More rem­i­nisces and mem­o­ries of the Hert­er’s store

For further reference

[amazonify]0880013907[/amazonify] [amazonify]B0006WA3GI[/amazonify] [amazonify]B000RT403M[/amazonify] [amazonify]B0006W7TL0[/amazonify]
[amazonify]B0013YJ3VE[/amazonify] [amazonify]B000HDUZEQ[/amazonify] [amazonify]B000YLP8RU[/amazonify] [amazonify]B0007JC3RC[/amazonify]
[amazonify]B001RVASAS[/amazonify] [amazonify]B000YIIUUK[/amazonify] [amazonify]B0006YUQLI[/amazonify] [amazonify]B001NDVVVK[/amazonify]
[amazonify]B000MKLGG0[/amazonify] [amazonify]B000PF9JCU[/amazonify] [amazonify]B000VO06R2[/amazonify] [amazonify]B001NGITYY[/amazonify]

First published on March 9th, 2009 at 10:25 am (EST) and last modified on March 9th, 2009 at 8:34 pm (EST).

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