FOR A HANDFUL OF FEATHERS by Guy "de la Vald‚ne

FOR A HANDFUL OF FEATHERS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Meditations on hunting, biodiversity, wildlife, ethics, and human folly unify a lifelong bird-hunter's quixotic venture to convert an 800-acre Florida farm into quail heaven. A crack wingshot and professed romantic, de la Vald‚ne (a contributor to Field & Stream and other sporting magazines) lived a sportsman's dream, hunting throughout Europe and the US before retreating to an erstwhile tobacco farm near Tallahassee for some large-scale gardening and amateur game management. His devotion to bobwhites is impressive and expensive: He plants crops, clear-cuts or burns acres of forest, and raises a dam to build the habitat and food supply needed to boost quail numbers. This wry chronicle recounts the highs and lows such an audacious project guarantees: Building the dam sans permit to forestall government meddling, he's overcome by red tape after it floods a neighbor's farm and brings a plague of bureaucrats to oversee reconstruction. The highs--reveries on nature, hunting, his dogs, and his birds that de la Vald‚ne, a world-class daydreamer, can't resist--contribute to the book's charming haphazardness. His genuine love for and keen observation of nature are shaped by predation, and despite his disdain for slob hunters and his understanding of the distaste many nonhunters hold for the sport, de la Vald‚ne remains dedicated to hunting, an honorable, primal rite ""as natural as dancing or making love, and just as ancient."" Unapologetic, he challenges the sacred tenet that hunting pressure is unrelated to declining game populations and castigates sportsmen for shrilly defending second amendment freedoms while industry and human expansion pose the real threat to the sporting life. Beautifully conceived and written, valuable for its insight into quail behavior and its thoughtful address of hunting ethics, a new classic for the sportsman's canon.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1995
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly