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Of Woods and Waters

Of Woods and Waters: A Kentucky Outdoors Reader

Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 432
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    Of Woods and Waters
    Book Description:

    From the moment Daniel Boone first "gained the summit of a commanding ridge, and...beheld the ample plains, the beauteous tracts below," generations of Kentuckians have developed rich and enduring relationships with the land that surrounds them. Of Woods & Waters: A Kentucky Outdoors Reader is filled with loving tributes, written across the Commonwealth's two centuries, offered in celebration of Kentucky's widely varied environmental wonders that nurture both life and art.

    Ron Ellis, an outdoors enthusiast and noted writer, has gathered art, fiction, personal essays and poetry from many of Kentucky's best-known authors for this comprehensive collection. The anthology begins with famed illustrator John James Audubon's eloquent account of extracting catfish from the Ohio River and progresses through over fifty contributions by both established and emerging writers. Covering two hundred years of hunting, fishing, camping, cooking, hiking, and canoeing in Kentucky's woods and waters, these classic and original works show how writers have, as celebrated Kentucky historian Thomas D. Clark suggests, "fallen under the spell of the land."

    Of Woods & Waters does not merely recount fond memories. Many authors presented in this collection echo the sentiments of the award-winning novelist and essayist Barbara Kingsolver, who writes, "Much of what I know about life, and almost everything I believe about the way I want to live, was formed in those woods" adjacent to her birthplace in Nicholas County, Kentucky. The works collected in Of Woods & Waters serve to honor and defend what many recognize as a sadly declining way of life, one born out of genuine reverence for the beauty and bounty of nature.

    The contributions of Wendell Berry, Janice Holt Giles, Bobbie Ann Mason, Jesse Stuart, James Still, Robert Penn Warren, James Baker Hall, Silas House, and other esteemed authors examine the delicate balances that must be struck between humanity and nature, between progress and sustainable living. While raising these crucial questions, these writings center on connections among friends and family in Kentucky's beautiful natural surroundings. The authors spin tales of the whistling wings of ducks overhead, the heart-pounding excitement of a white-tailed buck's sudden appearance, the joy of childhood plunges into cold lake waters after hours of climbing trees, and the thrill of watching sons and daughters catch their first fish. In these writings, the bountiful Kentucky wilderness that first captivated frontier settlers remains vibrantly alive.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4575-4
    Subjects: Biological Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
    Nick Lyons

    What an earthy and eclectic cornucopia this is—essays, fiction, and poetry that celebrate the wide-ranging sporting life of Kentucky. It is also a special revelation to me, a passionate fisherman who once spent seven months in the state without once fishing.

    Ron Ellis—whose introduction to this unique volume is itself wonderfully full, wise, and personal—has done a fine job of ferreting out and collecting immensely different approaches to the state’s world of spirited contrasts. There are pieces by and about such historical figures as Daniel Boone and John J. Audubon (who finds the better part of a...

    (pp. xix-xxii)
    (pp. xxiii-xxxiv)
    Ron Ellis

    When stephen wrinn and I first discussed the University Press of Kentucky’s interest in publishing a collection of some of the best writing by Kentuckians about their outdoor experiences, he suggested that I put together a “dream” table of contents to prepare for our next round of conversations. I didn’t need a lot of time to think about Stephen’s proposal and committed to the quest right there in his office.

    In the weeks ahead, I wandered through every bookstore I could find and often found myself happily lost in the stacks of libraries—both old sentinels with their well-thumbed card...

  6. PROLOGUE: The Adventures of Col. Daniel Boon; Containing a Narrative of the Wars of Kentucke (An Excerpt) From The Discovery, Settlement and present State of Kentucke by John Filson (1784)
    (pp. xxxv-xxxvi)

    It was on the first of May, in the year 1769, that I resigned my domestic happiness for a time, and left my family and peaceable habitation on the Yadkin River, in North-Carolina, to wander through the wilderness of America, in quest of the country of Kentucke, in company with John Finley, John Stewart, Joseph Holden, James Monay, and William Cool. We proceeded successfully, and after a long and fatiguing journey through a mountainous wilderness, in a westward direction, on the seventh day of June following, we found ourselves on Red-River, where John Finley had formerly been trading with the...


    • Fishing in the Ohio From Delineations of American Scenery and Character (1926)
      (pp. 3-10)

      It is with mingled feelings of pleasure and regret that I recall to my mind the many pleasant days I have spent on the shores of the Ohio. The visions of former years crowd on my view, as I picture to myself the fertile soil and genial atmosphere of our great western garden, Kentucky, and view the placid waters of the fair stream that flows along its western boundary. Methinks I am now on the banks of the noble river. Twenty years of my life have returned to me; my sinews are strong, and the “bow-string of my spirit is...

    • Deer Camp (2004)
      (pp. 11-19)

      My highly paid lawyer says I have to issue a disclaimer before you read any further. I say “highly paid” because he always ends up in the dove field with a new shotgun after I pay him a visit (and his fee). I know he’s a good lawyer because his motto is: “Never let the facts stand in the way of a good story.”

      Case in point: the buck he’s got hanging on his office wall. It’s a big rack. A trophy. Some client gave it to him as partial payment. I guess the poor guy didn’t have a shotgun....

    • An Entrance to the Woods From Recollected Essays 1965–1980 (1981)
      (pp. 20-34)

      On a fine sunny afternoon at the end of September I leave my work in Lexington and drive east on I-64 and the Mountain Parkway. When I leave the Parkway at the little town of Pine Ridge I am in the watershed of the Red River in the Daniel Boone National Forest. From Pine Ridge I take Highway 715 out along the narrow ridge tops, a winding tunnel through the trees. And then I turn off on a Forest Service Road and follow it to the head of a foot trail that goes down the steep valley wall of one...

    • Dove Autumn From Kentucky Monthly (November 2000)
      (pp. 35-38)

      You couldn’t have asked for a better opening day of dove season in Kentucky. The weather was mild and dry, with a light breeze blowing thin wisps of clouds high overhead.

      Sunshine flooded still-green fields bordered with black rail fences, and nearby you could hear an occasional “Mooooo” from within a bovine herd on the graze. The air smelled good and clean, offering a pure sensual pleasure to be out. As a friend once observed, “Ya gotta get out and git the house-smell off.”

      Dove hunts, particularly in the South, are often a matter of ritual. In some places they...

    • An Essential Ingredient From Happy Hunting Ground (September–October 1991)
      (pp. 39-43)

      My 14-foot Grumman boat floated in calm water in the Ohio River at the Westport ramp. A pretty picture, I thought, as I walked down the slope. The dull, grass-colored painted boat in the deep green late summer river was framed by bank-side sandbar willows and cottonwood. The cottonwood leaves were beginning to bleach out before changing to the autumn gray-brown hue that reminds me of the color of a whitetail’s coat.

      The boat was piled high, gunwale to gunwale, with a cargo which included tent, sleeping bags, cooking gear, groceries, my Browning automatic, my friend Moose’s Ithaca pump, spinning...

    • The Frontier (An Excerpt) From The Mountain, the Miner, and the Lord (1980)
      (pp. 44-50)

      Betty sexton fields was a Melungeon who died at the age of ninety. The origins of the “dark people” are lost in the mists of our country’s history. They are found in many parts of the Appalachians and are called by many names. In some places they are known as “Guians,” in others as “Red Bones,” “Ramps,” “Wooly-boogers,” and “Portagees.” According to lingering traditions they were living deep in the hills long before the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794.

      In any event, Betty Sexton Fields was a Melungeon whose forebear fought in the Revolution. Betty came to my office...

    • A Little Bit of Santa Claus (An Excerpt) From Pills, Petticoats and Plows: The Southern Country Store (1944)
      (pp. 51-54)

      Unlike their yankee brethren, southerners saved their fireworks for Christmas instead of the Fourth of July. There seems to be little fundamental reason for this traditional difference between the sections. Some have explained that because the siege of Vicksburg was ended on the Fourth of July, southerners refused to celebrate the day in any other way than that of going to fish fries and political picnics. This is hardly true. Perhaps the weather conditions were a more vital factor, but whatever the reason, the stores did not stock firecrackers for the July trade. It has always seemed that for a...

    • Muskie Joe: The Legend Continues From Happy Hunting Ground (September–October 1984)
      (pp. 55-62)
      SOC CLAY

      He was born Joe Edward Stamper on March 2, 1887, on the head of Grassy near the headwaters of the Laurel Fork of the Kinniconick. His father, the late Taylor Stamper, was a barrel maker and cross-tie drifter. The Stamper family was well known for conducting huge cross-tie floats each spring when as many as 150,000 hand-hewn ties were pushed into the flood-swollen waters of the tributaries of the Kinniconick and herded downstream some 40 miles to the steamboat landing at Garrison.

      From their origin deep in the back country of Lewis County, twenty men, teams of mules, a floatboat...

    • An Excerpt from Rivers of Kentucky (2001)
      (pp. 63-68)

      There are two things as good as food. One is making love, the other is canoeing on Licking. The three combined make an afternoon in June seem like heaven on earth, mindful that around each bend there can be a message from hell, when gravity and flow get together on the proposition. All the food on the most sumptuous of Tom Jones table spreads, all the love in the most feathery of beds, or buck naked beneath the pawpaw trees, cannot match the thrill of floating from slack water into rapids on Middle Fork of Licking.

      We turn onto MouthofCedar...

    • Frog Fever From the Louisville Courier-Journal (Summer 1975)
      (pp. 69-70)

      Every june when Mike Voyles of Owensboro visits for a week, I relive some of my best boyhood days by taking him frog hunting. And every time we creep up a pond bank on our bellies to survey a pond studded with fist-sized bullfrog heads, eleven-year-old Mike rewards me by shaking slightly when he draws a bead on his first target.

      In fact, if the game is especially plentiful and large, he may take the rifle from his shoulder for a couple of deep breaths to steady his aim. And I’m under standing orders not to comment on the bigness...

    • Tickling, Noodling, etc. From Happy Hunting Ground (November–December 1979)
      (pp. 71-77)

      “EXCUSE ME,” I said, “but people have been committed to mental institutions for doing saner things than sticking their hands under rocks like these and I don’t think I’m going to do it!” That comment drew a grin from Kerry Prather, Eastern Fishery District biologist, while Letcher County conservation officer (CO) Jerry Coots spit another stream of tobacco juice, Bill Braswell, Perry County CO, looked on with apprehension, and Seventh District supervisor Tommy Cantrell shuffled along beside the small eastern Kentucky stream we were about to start wading.

      I’d like to return to this pregnant moment in my life, but...

    • Meats: Game and Tame (An Excerpt) From More Than Moonshine (1983)
      (pp. 78-84)

      Father and other men in the community went hunting for wild game to supplement food supplies. It always seemed to me it would be more fun to go tramping through the mountains hunting than staying home doing endless chores that faced women and girls every day—although I would never have brought myself to the point where I could have shot at a wild animal or bird. I used to feel such outrage when Father brought home a mother squirrel, a pheasant, or other wild game. And I had a hard time reconciling myself to eating the meals where game...

    • Fox-Hunting in Kentucky (An Excerpt) From Blue-grass and Rhododendron (1901)
      (pp. 85-89)
      JOHN FOX JR.

      In kentucky, the hunting of the red fox antedates the war but little. The old Kentucky fox-hound was of every color, loose in build, with open feet and a cowhide tail. He had a good nose, and he was slow, but he was fast enough for the gray fox and the deer. Somewhere about 1855 the fox-hunters discovered that their hounds were chasing something they could not catch. A little later a mule-driver came through Cumberland Gap with a young hound that he called Lead. Lead caught the eye of old General Maupin, who lived in Madison County, and whose...

    • Fishing with the Stewart Brothers From The Northern Kentucky Fly Fishers’, Ink (August 2004)
      (pp. 90-99)
      W. D. “BILL” GAITHER

      The fish were skimming along just under the surface of the placid water. Now and then one would rise and suck a tidbit offered up by the drifting current. Seventy-five yards downstream, a riffle gurgled as the stream’s course was altered by the resisting limestone, etched and eroded by centuries of flow. The rigid stone rose up from the edge of the riffle, and curved along the waterway path, forcing a gentle bend to the right, and down to the pool beneath the riffle. The stream, the fish, and me, a trilogy perhaps as old as man’s appetite for fish...

    • When the Cork Goes Under (2005)
      (pp. 100-103)

      For once, bureaucracy took a backseat to common sense. Some farsighted folks who worked for the Jefferson County Parks Department approached state game and fish officials with a simple idea: Stock one of the Louisville Metro Park lakes with an extra helping of catfish; solicit local businesspeople to chip in for the needed bait and tackle and throw in a few bucks for hot dogs and soft drinks; round up some volunteers to help bait hooks, untangle lines, and release fish; and then let some city kids fish for a few hours. No license. No charge. No hassle. The game...

    • An Excerpt from 40 Acres and No Mule (1967)
      (pp. 104-109)

      All summer we had sneaked time from the tobacco and the canning and the improvements on the house to fish and to study birds, and Green River was perfect for both. Green River! Ah, everyone should have Green River flowing at the foot of the ridge as we do. Beautiful, emerald, winding stream, chattering over the rapids, purling around the shoals, stilling over the deep places. “Lonely river, weary water.” Henry sings a song that begins with those words, and I never go to the river without thinking of them. Lonely river, weary water.

      Only when the tide comes is...

    • The Philosophy of Angling From More about the Black Bass (1889)
      (pp. 110-113)

      The art of angling, with the improvements and appliances thereunto pertaining, will not suffer by a comparison with the progress of any other out-door recreation. The love of angling increases with the lapse of years, for its love grows by what it feeds on.

      Wiser and more healthful and more humane sentiments now prevail among the guild than formerly, so that its practice more nearly approaches and deserves its appellation of the “gentle art.”

      Fishing for count, and the slaughter of the innocents, and the torturing of the fish, when caught, by a lingering death, now meet with the opprobrium...

    • Bass, Pike, and Perch (An Excerpt) From Bass, Pike, Perch and Others (1903)
      (pp. 114-119)

      The differences of opinion among anglers, of all men, pertaining to the practice of their art, has become axiomatic. Some will differ even to the estimation of a hair in the legs of an artificial fly, while it is averred others will go so far as to “divide a hair ’twixt south and southwest side,” as Butler has it. But, seriously, there are several moot points which I have endeavored to discuss in the following piscatorial polemic.

      Two friends went fishing. Both were famous black-bass anglers, with the enthusiasm born of a genuine love and an inherent appreciation of the...

    • A Place of Noble Trees (2005)
      (pp. 120-131)

      For the past forty-five years, my family has been spending at least one week out of the year on Dale Hollow Lake, straddling the Kentucky-Tennessee border. Mine was a family that, in the 1950s, had just begun to crawl up out of poverty and was still decidedly lower middle class. They were coal miners, factory workers, lunch ladies, and waitresses. They were farmers and milkmen, gas station attendants and truck-stop cashiers. They were people who had known the deepest poverty but had never been mired down by that. Instead, they had kept their eyes focused on going forward, on bettering...

    • An Excerpt from Shantyboat (1953)
      (pp. 132-137)

      I am not a true fisherman. Many are drawn to the river by a desire to fish, but this was not even a minor reason for my becoming a shantyboater. Perhaps it could be said, since I am not a thorough fisherman, that I am not a genuine river rat. I have become a consistent fisherman, but only because fish are so valuable to us. I enjoy it, too, but all the pleasure of fishing does not come from catching fish.

      To make a beginning, our hopes lay in Andy. He was a real fisherman, and it was fishing that...

    • The Memory Place (An Excerpt) From High Tide in Tucson (1995)
      (pp. 138-139)

      This is the kind of April morning no other month can touch: a world tinted in watercolor pastels of redbud, dogtooth violet, and gentle rain. The trees are beginning to shrug off winter; the dark, leggy maple woods are shot through with gleaming constellations of white dogwood blossoms. The road winds through deep forest near Cumberland Falls, Kentucky, carrying us across the Cumberland Plateau toward Horse Lick Creek. Camille is quiet beside me in the front seat, until at last she sighs and says, with a child’s poetic logic, “This reminds me of the place I always like to think...

    • Partners in the Web of Life (2004)
      (pp. 140-141)

      We are hunters by instinct. Something in our genes tells us to go into the forest and emulate wild creatures. We admire the animal stealth, cunning, and will to survive that so many humans have lost touch with or altogether ignore. Petroglyphs on the walls of caves tell of the exploits of ancient hunters who lived by the chase and celebrated their kill. Without fresh meat, their families perished. Without hunting, primitive man would have passed into oblivion.

      The accomplished hunter has always been looked at in awe. Praised in life and immortalized in literature. A ghost who moves through...

    • King of the Spring Woodlands From the Lexington Herald-Leader (April 26, 1992)
      (pp. 142-144)

      The clouds on the horizon were backlit with crimson and yellow light when the turkey started gobbling. It was a lusty, rattling call that echoed through the woods, shattering the predawn calm. From a ridgetop down the creek, it was impossible to pinpoint the exact location of his roost tree. So I walked, almost ran, as fast as I dared down the hill and through the valley.

      Doves fluttered from cedars. In the half light, unseen branches grabbed at my arms and poked my face. The wet underbrush pulled at my legs and soaked my boots. The gobbles became more...

    • Our Creek Is Full of Memories From The Best of Crawfish and Minnows (2000)
      (pp. 145-146)

      What is the difference between a creek and a river? Myth has it that to be a river, the stream must be at least 100 miles long. And according to this same myth, Elkhorn Creek falls one mile short of this magical distance, and therefore does not qualify as a river.

      All of this, however, is just a myth. The real difference between a creek and a river is memories. A creek has memories. A river has large boats and barges and pollution, but never memories.

      Elkhorn Creek is a treasury of memories for me. It was my family’s park...

    • An Excerpt from Clear Springs (1999)
      (pp. 147-159)

      It had been an unusually hot summer, and my mother had gotten out of the habit of stirring about, although she still drove to her garden at the farm each morning. When she lived at the farm, she had kept active all summer, but at the new house, she felt inhibited from going outside. There were so many houses around, with people to see her and make her feel self-conscious. She was stiffening up with arthritis, and her muscles were still weak from her stroke a year ago. The doctor told her she had severe osteoporosis, but he didn’t seem...

    • Inheritance (An Excerpt) From Voices on the Wind (2002)
      (pp. 160-166)

      It was a balmy day in July 1994 when my wife and I went to my parents’ home for a weekend visit. My father called me aside after supper.

      “There are some things in the downstairs bedroom that I want you to look at,” he said. “We brought back all of Papaw’s hunting gear. It’s too small for your brother and me, but Papaw was about your size.” Papaw had died on Christmas Eve 1993.

      Like wine that is sweet on my tongue and bitter in my throat, the downstairs bedroom confronted me with conflicting emotions. Here was a shrine...

    • They Called Him Lucky (An Excerpt) From The GI Generation (2000)
      (pp. 167-171)

      Mom called him Charlie, his sisters called him Charles, his sons called him Dad, but everyone else in his world called him Lucky. He signed Lucky to his checks and letters. Mail to him from acquaintances was always addressed to Lucky Mathias. Few people in town knew his real name. He liked it that way; I never once heard him complain.

      He did not remember how he picked up his nickname but assumed with everyone else that fishing had something to do with it. Few would argue that he was not the best fisherman in the county. Some held that...

    • Fly-Fishing Time From the Kentucky Post (September 6, 1963)
      (pp. 172-173)

      September draws the first delicate blushes from the countryside. Streams gurgle with their most fervent seasonal serenity. The fish and wildlife have reared the young, who are less handsome but more confident by this time than their tired parents.

      If there is a specific season of fly-fishing, it is now. For this is the calm interim of nature, a likely matching of man, mind, and the quiet dimension of angling.

      Fly-fishing is a heritage. Pioneer Kentuckians, if they were not feather-flickers, were long rod bait fishermen, and the singleaction spool preceded the now-famous “Kentucky multiplying reel,” which was lashed to...

    • The Kentucky Longrifle (2004)
      (pp. 174-182)

      The kentucky longrifle occupies an integral part in the legend, song, and story of American history. It dates from the time pioneers attempted to cross the mountains and break away from the eastern seaboard. In the hands of legendary men such as Daniel Boone, Ebenezer Zane, Benjamin Logan, Simon Kenton, and many others, it was, and is, a symbol of pioneering and of confronting the unknown—a symbol not far removed, if at all, from the minutemen of Revolutionary War fame.

      The lines quoted above are from a popular ballad by Samuel Woodworth called “The Hunters of Kentucky.” It was...

    • The Scolding (2004) Dedicated to my dad, Judge Billy Shuffett
      (pp. 183-186)

      Little boys will always need an occasional “talking to,” no matter how old they are. That was the lesson I learned not long ago when, at the age of 46, I got one more scolding from my 81-year-old dad. First he gave me that same old facial expression I’d seen all my life—it’s a cross between contemplative and pained. I knew I had done something of which he didn’t approve. Trying to be firm in his aging voice, he said, “You’re letting little Willie watch too many of those video games. It’ll ruin him, if you don’t get him...

    • Chapter Added to Rich History From Kentucky Monthly (June 2000)
      (pp. 187-191)

      Long before written histories documented the fact, Kentucky was a hunting ground for the Iroquois, the Shawnee, and the Algonquin.

      In 1763 Elisha Walden led a dozen Long Hunters through the Cumberland Gap into Kentucky. They described it as a virgin wilderness teeming with “game waiting to be killed … clear streams filled with delectable fish eager to be caught.” Kentucky was a paradise populated by “countless turkeys and other fowls [that] longed to be eaten.”

      Within three years Virginian and Carolinian Long Hunters had made it west to the Mississippi. They would hunt all they could carry. In June...

    • Old Reels From Happy Hunting Ground (July 1973)
      (pp. 192-198)

      In 1810, george snyder, a silversmith in Paris, Kentucky, had an idea. Let’s assume that it came to him in March, just when the first buds began to appear and only the faintest hint of green colored the fields, came to him during those first few warm days of spring when Snyder, in anticipation of fishing trips to come, was walking along Stoner Creek.

      Then, for the next few weeks, while winter returned to play out the last seemingly interminable act of its seasonal drama, Snyder stayed indoors at his lathe while under his hands his idea took shape, and...

    • A Connecticut Yankee in a Kentucky Trout Stream From the Kentucky Fishing Journal (August 2002)
      (pp. 199-206)

      Among the many myths that outsiders have come to believe about Kentucky is that it has no outstanding trout fishing. Despite 13,000 miles of rivers and streams, and more navigable waterways than any other state except Alaska, it is still widely believed that only bass, catfish, panfish, and the occasional muskie lurk in the commonwealth’s depths. Until very recently, I too shared this fiction.

      This is the story of my enlightenment, and of the knowledge I gained after one trip to the Cumberland River. I now believe that Kentucky is home to a river that ranks as one of the...


    • An Excerpt from Hunter’s Horn (1949)
      (pp. 209-215)

      Late november’s gentle misty rains made a fog across the hills and brought a grayness and a stillness to the bright noisy leaves. The good hunting weather, the dog food, eggs, fresh milk, and scraps of meat from a just killed pig all gave new life to Zing. This fall, as on other falls, he was the pride and the wonder of Little Smokey Creek country.

      Stretched on boards in the middle room upstairs were one red and two gray fox skins; and no man, not even Blare Tiller who was forever claiming an injustice done him or somebody else,...

    • An Excerpt from Nathan Coulter From Three Short Novels (2002)
      (pp. 216-219)

      After we killed the first coon things were slow for a long time. We went into the woods again and sat down. Once in a while we’d hear the dogs, their voices flaring up as they fumbled at a cold trail, then quiet again while we waited and talked beside the lantern. Finally we got cold and built a fire, and Uncle Burley lay down beside it and slept. He woke up every time one of the dogs mouthed; but when they lost the trail and hushed he turned his cold side to the fire and went back to sleep....

    • A Special Incident From the Maysville Ledger-Independent (May 29–June 5, 2003)
      (pp. 220-225)

      John had broken into a light sweat before he reached the ridge. Summer had strong influence in mid-September, but a front had brought mild weather, presaging fall, so he wore a long-sleeved camouflage shirt to abate the early morning chill. Day was sifting through the trees along the hilltop.

      He watched the recurring struggle between darkness and light, as he had done at the start and end of so many days. Its luminescence was beginning to reach the earth in the deep woods around him. Cardinals had already saluted the new day, and it would be only moments until crows...

    • Ely’s Bass From Sourwood Tales (1968)
      (pp. 226-238)

      His name was ely, and he was a mender offences. This was the trade he claimed to know the best, and he was willing to bargain with it for the right to fish for an old fish he called Joner. The day Pa bought the farm we inherited Ely, according to its prior owner, Tom Lucas. But before the summer was over we knew that Tom Lucas had been wrong. It had been Ely who inherited us.

      It was a rough land that Pa bought. The surface lay hidden beneath scrub oak, bull thistle, and saw brier. Shaped like a...

    • Fur in the Hickory From Sourwood Tales (1968)
      (pp. 239-244)

      “You can talk about that new repeating rifle of yours all you want,” the old man said to the boy as they made their way up the slope of the hill toward the ridge where the shagbark hickories grew. “It’s your gun and only natural that you ought to have some feeling for it. But me? When I go for squirrel I aim to put meat on the table. You don’t see me carrying a repeating rifle, either. I take my old musket. Been with me a long time. Went through the war together. Brought a brag once from General...

    • The Great Ohio River Catfish Hunting Expedition From Down the River: A Collection of Ohio Valley Fiction & Poetry (1991)
      (pp. 245-254)

      It all started when we all were fishing at the river on a Saturday night. All our poles had been fixed and set up and our lines were out in the current waiting for the fish to bite. I was in charge of two of the poles and I was just sitting there enjoying the river. It was so smooth and calm that it looked like a big lake. Now when I said “all” I meant Larry, Jack, Rog, and me. We’d been fishing together ever since any of us had been big enough to drag a fishing pole behind...

    • Into the Woods (An Excerpt) From Cogan’s Woods (2001)
      (pp. 255-262)

      “Did you see him?” Dad said. The bird had exploded at our feet from the base of one of those cedars. “That’s a pheasant for you. All jumpy and nervous.” There was great excitement in his voice, a kind of passion I had not heard before, not even for the squirrels.

      The bird, this pheasant, did not have a white collar around its neck and there were no bright colors on its head. It did not look like any pheasant I had ever seen on the covers ofField & StreamorSports Afield.

      “You sure that was a pheasant?” I...

    • Big Boy (An Excerpt) From River Bends and Meanders (1992)
      (pp. 263-273)

      “Mr. smith, how’re you, today?” Rufus Brown said, trying not to let on about his great secret.

      “Why, I’m right fine, how’re you?”

      “Right fine myself, I got a proposition for you.”

      “Wha’s that, Rufus?”

      “Come out to my wagon and look in my barrel. I got somethin’ that ought to be worth a look-see.”

      Smith and Rufus ambled out to the wagon where the tightlipped children were about to burst with their secret.

      Rufus motioned to the barrel, and Smith slowly pulled himself up on the wagon. Cas turned back the canvas, and Smith peered down into the barrel....

    • An Excerpt from Aleck Maury, Sportsman (1934)
      (pp. 274-276)

      It was while I was training Gy that I made another acquisition —the best gun I ever had. That, too, came to me from Pat Henry. I found it in Sid More’s gunshop, standing in a corner with two other breech-loaders. I saw the rosewood stock first and I picked it up just for the pleasure of handling it. Sid was in his corner, working, his back to me. I stood there and examined the gun. It was fourteen gauge, thirty inches long, and weighed six and three quarters pounds. My first reaction was pleasure in its lightness. You could...

    • An Excerpt from Gina. Jamie. Father. Bear. (2002)
      (pp. 277-281)

      Mabry Taught me to ride a bike, to whistle, to program the vcr. He made up great pretend games for when we drove to see Grandma Pierce: “M & G, Sole Survivors from Mars” was one of them. He designed our treehouse, including a pvc pipe firepole, and carved our names on the rail.

      In fact, he was the world’s best big brother till Mom said she was leaving, till the word came down like a cosmic axe and split everything apart. Maybe if Mom had stayed single and just moved to Cleveland Heights, or at least someplace in Ohio where...

    • An Excerpt from His First, Best Country (1993)
      (pp. 282-284)

      Standing on the bridge over Newfound Creek, looking down into the dark water slipping under the bridge, Jennings realized he’d stopped the car and walked onto the bridge out of old habit. There’d been an old bridge here years ago, a wooden bridge, and it was to that bridge they’d come in late winter and early spring to watch for the arrival of redhorse, a fish that ran up the creeks like salmon. He stared into the pool below, occasionally shaking his head, remembering those days, and the men and boys he ran with.

      He’d lived for woods and waters...

    • Spirit Deer From Sporting Classics (September–October 2004)
      (pp. 285-291)

      He appeared like an apparition. Like most deer sightings, one moment the meadow is empty, the next, ghostlike, a deer materializes. At first, I distrusted what my eyes told me was a big buck. Like a textbook case of early blur, I clearly saw deer. But the pieces did not fit. Maybe black bear was the solution. I squinted to isolate the image. It was a buck and as I watched he lifted his head, curled his lips back, and scented the evening air. His antlers, polished to an ivory white, were in stark contrast to his coal-black body. They...

    • Our Wiff and Daniel Boone From Come Gentle Spring (1969)
      (pp. 292-307)

      “I was born at the wrong time,” Wiff Hendrix said in Pudd Bently’s General Store and Post Office. “I wish I’d been born the same year Daniel Boone was born. Wish I could have come into the Kentucky wilderness with Boone, and with a longrifle, a powderhorn, and a bullet mold. But maybe I am Daniel Boone. You know, I could be.”

      When we gathered in Pudd’s store on late afternoons after our work was done, Wiff would always be the first one there. All Wiff wanted to talk about was his hunting. He wanted us to believe he was...

    • The Meadow From Girty (1977)
      (pp. 308-310)

      Shot this morning a fine red buck. Twelve points. Having slept in some beeches, I wake to sounds of a squirrel cutting, his long incisors gnawing small bitter beechnuts somewhere close. Breakfast. Cocking and priming, quiet as I can I settle back in my robes to spy him out, my sight fixed on leaf-ends as the uppermost glow out of the half-light and burn white along the edges, trunks still steaming. And wait. A quarter hour later brother squirrel and I both sense some third presence, the feel of some interloper moving over my body like waves. Then the hush....


    • Predator and Prey (2004)
      (pp. 313-314)
    • Hermit’s Sack Song
      (pp. 315-316)
    • The Hermit on His Gate (2004)
      (pp. 317-318)
    • For Jeff (2004)
      (pp. 319-319)
    • Walking Sticks
      (pp. 320-320)
    • The Buffalo
      (pp. 321-322)
    • Hawkbells
      (pp. 323-324)
    • Down in the Counties (2004)
      (pp. 325-325)
    • Trapper at Camp Dix Bend (2004)
      (pp. 326-326)
    • Undercurrents
      (pp. 327-328)
    • Fishing with My Father in the Middle Field Pond (2005)
      (pp. 329-331)
    • Fish Story
      (pp. 332-333)
    • The Faith of Fishermen
      (pp. 334-334)
    • After the Hunt
      (pp. 335-335)
    • Spring Hunt
      (pp. 336-336)
    • Woodcock of the Ivory Beak
      (pp. 337-337)
    • Hunter
      (pp. 338-338)
    • Mountain Fox Hunt
      (pp. 339-340)
    • Alpheus Waters, September 2, 1863
      (pp. 341-342)
    • Falling Asleep While Hunting
      (pp. 343-343)
    • A Statement of the Case
      (pp. 344-344)
    • Fishing at Valleyview Ferry
      (pp. 345-345)
    • Bluegills
      (pp. 346-346)
    • Stocking the Pond
      (pp. 347-348)
    • American Portrait: Old Style (An Excerpt)
      (pp. 349-349)
    • Heart of Autumn
      (pp. 350-351)
    • VII: Tell Me a Story
      (pp. 352-352)

    • APPENDIX A: Kentucky State Record Fish
      (pp. 355-360)
    • APPENDIX B: Kentucky’s All-Time Top Ten Boone & Crockett White-tailed Bucks
      (pp. 361-362)
  11. List of Contributors
    (pp. 363-380)
    (pp. 381-390)