When the loons are calling and a soft breeze is blowing across the lake, many of us enjoy leaning back in a comfortable lawn chair and spending some time reading a good outdoor book.
A book that takes us into the wild. A book that entertains, teaches, and pays homage to those whose tracks we follow every time we go into the woods.
If you’re in the mood for that kind of summer reading, you might want to get your hands on V. Paul Reynolds’s latest book, “Backtrack” (264 pages, Islandport Press, $16.95).
Reynolds, a Hampden outdoorsman, writer, publisher and radio host, explains in the book’s introduction that a backtrack “is, quite simply, going back where you came from. I picked ‘Backtrack’ as the title for this book because it seemed to fit my plan — to go back along the path of my life’s journey and revisit some vivid outdoor experiences.”
Reynolds succeeds in his effort, sharing more than 50 short tales that document a life spent appreciating the outdoors.
Reynolds is matter-of-fact in his telling of those stories, refusing to resort to the adjective-laden prose that so many other “adventurers” feel is necessary.
As a result, the reader feels like he’s sitting on a stump, sharing a campfire with Reynolds, listening to him tell the stories that helped form his life.
And those adventures aren’t “hero” stories. The author doesn’t catch the biggest trout. He doesn’t shoot the biggest deer. He does nearly once. But with the 20-20 perspective that sometimes arrives years after a stressful event, he’s able to chuckle at his own misadventures.
Another nice touch: Reynolds relies on the contacts he has established as the editor of the outdoors newspaper “The Northwoods Sporting Journal” to provide some expert advice that is included when appropriate.
Looking for the perfect flies to catch trout? You can find ‘em here. Want a list of Maine’s remote trout ponds? Check the final chapter. Want to know what to do when you get lost in the woods? Of course you don’t. None of us ever get lost. Still, you might want to check out Chapter 32 … just so you can advise your accident-prone “brother-in-law.”
Reynolds isn’t shy about sharing his opinions, either. From debating the practice of shooting at running deer to taking a closer look at the new catch-and-release ethic, Reynolds will give you plenty of subjects to argue about when you head to deer camp.
And as the author points out, one of his biggest priorities is eating … or, more specifically, eating well.
To that end, he includes his own tried-and-true recipe for North Woods Beans, as well as his wife, Diane’s, deerburger soup.