posted on January 10, 2011 07:22
By Mike Handley
I might’ve spent my days up a treestand in Pawnee County, Neb., Nov. 7-11, but my head was in Iberia Parish, La., for much of the time. To help pass the considerable dead spells, I read one of James Lee Burke’s paperbacks featuring protagonist Dave Robicheaux, the badge-carrying ne’er-do-well with a knack for catching bad guys as if they were fly balls.
Stephen King was my hunting companion near Snyder, Okla., the following month. The rut there was pretty much done, and the mature bucks were avoiding daylight like vampires. I should’ve gone a week earlier, I guess, but I needed a break after sitting in deer stands for two straight weeks.
Back in 2006, I spent three glorious weeks bowhunting the Dark Continent. I sat inside a water hole blind almost the entire time. I literally broke the hearts of about six magnificent animals, photographed dozens more, and I managed to read eight novels, all set in Africa.
Like most writers I’ve known, I’m a voracious reader. When I was a kid, I used to lie on my belly and pore over hunting magazines. I have to admit, too, that the writing back then -- mostly “me and Joe went hunting stories” -- was of a higher caliber.
Jack Deskins Buck
I’d never given any thought to reading while hunting until I attended a seminar at a Tupelo, Miss., deer show in the early 1990s. I’m not absolutely sure, but I think the speaker was Dr. James Kroll, and one of the many anecdotes he shared was how to break up a long day in a stand by reading.
Since that time, I’ve always packed a paperback. I’ve also interviewed several hunters who had to put down their books to harvest world-class bucks.
That’s what happened to Jack Deskins of Moundville, Ala., eight years ago this week. He was hunting public forestland in Hale County, reading a paperback mystery, when the buck of his dreams stepped out at 100 yards. He might not remember who pulled the trigger in the whodunit, but he’ll never forget squeezing his.