Bucolic essayist McManus (The Good Samaritan Strikes Again, 1992, etc.) pops out of the tall timber to present his ninth gathering of lies and giggles from field and stream. The usual crew of supporting characters--Retch Sweeney, Rancid Crabtree and wife Bun, as well as a phalanx of Sasquatches-- provides backup while McManus sings his old sweet song of silliness. He's still got it, if you want it--and you probably do if you ever dreamed of attending an elk hunters' banquet, smelled a hen house, or been bitten by a bug. The author has met all sorts, from George Bush to a kingfisher who left him a farewell note. Indeed, not since Professor Robert Benchley went beak to beak with a pigeon has a writer had such a meaningful relationship with a bird. Between wistful autobiographical reports, our mountain Montaigne fires off a few worthy aphorisms in his debriefings from the field. ``The older something is,'' he muses, ``the more it is valued, people being the only exception.'' Another piece of philosophy (written about a dog, not an erstwhile president): ``Nothing improves character so much as death.'' The thrust of the author's body of work, of course, is spectacular lack of accomplishment in any fresh air activity, and the present collection continues the pattern. This is McManus as his cadre of fans knows him, and perhaps it's too much to ask the nostalgic woodsman to beat a path to new territory. Regular readers will be pleased to meet the hapless Clown of the Wild Frontier once again. Trepid, vincible, domitable, and predictable as the seasons, Pat McManus is still the funniest guy in a flannel shirt.