â€œLife is never easy or guaranteed.” That said, Wiltse gets on with it as a rough-edged outfitter in Wyoming and other parts West.
Though accomplished, Wiltse was not comfortable as a mason in Flint, Mich. So, at age 35, he up and moved his family to Cody, Wyo., there to fulfill his dream guiding hunters in the deep backcountry. Here, he lays it out in straight-talking fashion for all those who feel a likewise impulse; as he put it to a wrangler seeking employment: â€œSomething goes wrong, everyone pitches in and helps. No matter what the weather or time of day. We don’t have a starting time or quit time–it’s full time.” It’s a life that comes off the page as a grind, but a beautiful grind, one that embraces the great outdoors and the author’s children, if not his wife, who hands him his pink slip as soon as the kids are out of school. This crushes him, lending an air of the confessional to the proceedings: how he had failed her, expected too much from a woman raised in prosperity adjusting to a hand-to-mouth existence. Just when the reader is beginning to wonder if this memoir is an exercise in catharsis, Wiltse pulls on the reins and offers up some solid storytelling. Working hard to establish a first-class reputation as a hunting guide, he attracts a handsome list of high-end clients, most of whom turn out to be bottom-feeders. â€œCounterfeit parasites,” he remembers, including the Shah of Iran’s brother, who is unhappy with his take. â€œThat moose is beneath my status as a world-class hunter,” he mewls in an effort to bribe Wiltse into another shot. There are also circumstantial jobs taken in New Mexico, Colorado and Tennessee, and insights into the roles of bears, fire and wolves in Yellowstone country.
A cautionary template for those looking to put some wild in their lives, but a real-time, enticing template nevertheless.