My favorite chapter in Art Wheaton’s Grouse Country was about outhouses

Art Wheaton’s passion is hunting grouse and woodcock, and his book, Grouse Country, has plenty of those great stories, but there is a lot more to this book than that.

As he explains, “What was most full was not our game bags, but our memories that now runneth over. We reflect and know birds just provided the frosting, while the cake was composed of old friends, trips and times together.”

Art’s hunting buddies were the Old Pats Society, and they had lots of great hunting experiences in other states before settling in Maine.

Art’s stories brought back some my great memories of hunting 56 years with my dad, when Art wrote, “First there was my dad, Woodie, who taught me the passion, care, and responsibility of upland gunning as well as the fundamentals of honesty, good wholesome humor, and putting in a fair and solid day’s work, and for that I owe him a debt of gratitude.”

From his story about the cemetery of his great-great- grandparents, whose house burned in the 1930’s, to a friend’s last grouse just before he died, a lot of Art’s stories are profound.

I especially enjoyed his chapter on outhouses. That brought back a lot of funny memories for me. Art writes about using the Sears catalog for toilet paper. We did too! Even though we had a bathroom in our camp, dad always used the outhouse, leaving the door open to enjoy the view out over the lake.

And because Art always hunted with English setter dogs, he put me back in that field where I shot my first bird, a pheasant, at the age of 12, because we raised and hunted with English setters. I can still see our dog, pointing into a corn patch, and the pheasant bursting up out of the corn. Dad told me to shoot, and I did, and down went the pheasant, retrieved by our dog.

Art Wheaton is currently the editor of Ruffed Grouse Society Magazine and his columns are frequently published in other publications. He’s a registered Maine guide and has hunted grouse and woodcock for over 50 years.

If you hunt, you will love this book, but you will enjoy it even if you don’t hunt. And don’t skip the chapter on outhouses!

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.