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!