More forays into the sportsman’s world from a lively and adroit guide.
The longtime editor at large for Field & Stream, where nearly all of these pieces first appeared, Heavey (You’re Not Lost if You Can Still See the Truck, 2014, etc.) offers more spirited and instructive takes on his outdoor life among the fish and mammals, including the human kind. The pieces are organized into four indistinct parts that lack continuity or an organizing principle, and a little culling of the weaker ones would have helped make the book stronger. It opens with two solid pieces. “Chasing the Chrome” is about the pursuit of steelhead in the chilly Pacific waters off California and Oregon with his buddy Mikey Dvorak, a “bum” in the “itinerant Buddhist monk” tradition. The essay is filled with just the right amount of detail about the challenging chase itself and tasty digressions to create an entertaining tale of comradeship and sport. “Adventures of a Deer Bum” switches to bowhunting whitetail “trophy bucks” in rural Ohio “fueled by deer adrenaline and cans of Starbucks DoubleShot espresso.” In the somber and reflective “Not the Same,” Heavey writes about seeing his arrow hit a deer “low, saw the red blood bloom on her coat as she leaped” and died in midair: “I’d never seen a deer depart life so decisively. She bounded into the air fully animated and came back to earth inert.” For a change of pace, there’s the wise, sentimental (in a good way) “How I Tried, and Failed, to Teach My Daughter About Fishing.” Or “The Bear Essentials,” about William Faulkner’s “The Bear,” the “flat-out best hunting story ever written” that “will lift your soul even as it breaks your heart.”
Jam-packed with thoughtful lore and adventure, this book can be enjoyed by those who aren’t hunting or fishing folk, but those who participate are the primary audience.