For nearly a decade, Bill Heavey, an outdoorsman marooned in suburbia, has written the “Sportsman’s Life” column on the back page of Field & Stream, where he does for hunting & fishing what David Feherty does for golf & Lewis Grizzard did for the South. His work is adored by readers—one proclaims him “the greatest sportswriter who has ever walked the planet,” & another recently wrote in to nominate him for president of the United States in 2008—& his peers have recognized his work with two prestigious National Magazine Award nominations. If You Didn’t Bring Jerky, What Did I Just Eat? is the first collection of Heavey’s sidesplitting observations on life as a hardcore (but often hapless) outdoorsman. Whether he’s hunting cougars in the southwest desert, scheming to make his five-year-old daughter fall in love with fishing, or chronicling his father’s slow decline through the lens of the numerous dogs he’s owned over seventy-five years, Heavey is a master at blending humor & pathos—& wide-ranging outdoor enthusiasms that run the gamut from elite to ordinary—into a poignant & potent cocktail. Funny, warmhearted, & supremely entertaining, this book is an uproarious addition to the literature of the outdoors.
From “The Bonehead”:
Saying “bonefishing in the Bahamas” to the average flyfisherman is a little like saying “naked touch football with Jessica Simpson” to the average adolescent male. The eyes glaze over, the face assumes a dreamy expression, & drool may begin to form. Having just returned from three days of this exact experience (fishing, not the other one), I can report that it was indeed memorable.
From “Dog Years”:
My father’s mind is slipping away, cell by cell, & as the architecture fragments & falls, he often speaks of dogs. “George didn’t come home last night,” he says when I come over for Sunday dinner. I kiss him & sit at the foot of the bed he can no longer leave unaided. He lies back against the pillows, staring anxiously at the faint cracks in the ceiling plaster, as if he might find an answer there if only he could remember the question.
“It’s okay, Dad,” I lie. “George was at the front door when I showed up. He’s asleep in the basement right now.” George, the first dog our family had, died 35 years ago.
“Well, that’s good,” he says.
This, I’ve learned, is how the mind unravels. . .