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Book Review: Should the Tent be Burning Like That? by Bill Heavey

If you’ve read Field and Stream as long as I have, you run to the mailbox and immediately flip to the back page where Bill Heavey waxes philosophical on all things.

Every month when the Field and Stream magazine came in the mail I’d read it cover to cover, as I have for the last several years. First I’d pick the hunts most relevant to me — they hadn’t covered much small game for a while when I was growing up, and I’d hit those articles first especially if they covered pheasant or grouse which has surged in popularity in recent years. The last article I’d read was perhaps my favorite, the back column where Bill Heavey played the outdoor putz just trying to get along in life. It’s usually good for a gut busting laugh that puts you in your place with the often satirical view of the outdoors, hunting, and the avoidance like the plague of interpersonal relationships you sometimes have to initiate to enjoy the former. Almost like the hunting version of Anthony Bourdain I relish his self deprecating humor because his twisted wit mirrors my own, if I could write half as well as he could I might be a thousandaire.

The chapters are essentially his back page articles with a few of his full length magazine stories peppered in, you can jump in wherever you want and you can pick it up any time for a quick read. I read about half of the book in one surge during a flight to Baltimore and back, reminiscing on Field and Stream magazines of years past. He’s well read and articulate about the topic, even if you feel like you’ve been hornswaggled over the years by the pantyhose clad red nosed mook that adorns the back inside page. I’m not exactly what you’d call an avid reader, after having been burnt out in grad school with books on IT, Criminal Justice, and other bad things happening in the world this was a refreshing kick in the groin to get me to read the things that were important in my life now.

This series of short stories will make you want to chase Chrome with Mikey, remember that two people in a hunting party become inextricably linked after mere hours together — sharing their deepest secrets because you’re quiet and have to listen, and it will make you wince in horror as Bill misses turkey after turkey… after turkey.

It’s a quick read and you can keep it at camp for a bedtime story with a side of some good whiskey, preferably anything other than the swill you brought. For $16 on Amazon it was money well spent for a hard cover that’s going in my outdoor reading collection.

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Last modified: April 28, 2020