Collected herein is a series of short essays designed for the casual reading – and edification – of outdoors-oriented folks, be they anglers or hunters, hikers or campers, or students of basic ecology.
This is a book you can pickup and set down at will – bedside reading, for example. There are tales on these pages of life in the outdoors, in part of the hunter, angler, hiker, or camper, but more of the wildlife that may be encountered during outdoor adventures. Each chapter is a collection of tales around a basic theme. Some take the reader to remote mountain streams in Pennsylvania, and others to the unique trout waters of Yellowstone National Park - and one to the coastal salmon rivers of British Columbia.
There are tales of ice covered lakes and snow covered woodlands, of spring time trout streams and autumn farm lands. While each starts and ends with an outdoorsmen’s tale, those flanking paragraphs are wrapped around a more important middle story, most intended to increase one’s appreciation and understanding of the wildlife encountered.
It is a book I hope will be made available to our youth, who in this technical age are often disconnected from the natural world. Their formal schooling may teach them of the plight of the rainforest or of the concern over whales, while they know little of the natural world in their own local parks and wood-lots. This book will not solve that problem, of course, but it hopefully can help lead to a better appreciation of the outdoors. It will be no substitute for true outdoor experiences, but may provide a starting point for a few.
Finally, the serious student of the environment – of the old-fashioned kind of ecology – will find in this book many examples of the inter-relationships between organisms and their environment. For example, what’s the natural relationship between hunter, hound, cottontail rabbit and groundhog? One might find more ecology in such a tale than might be expected. And how about the beaver and his dam, the fish, the trees that the backed-up water drowns and the change in habits of not just the angler, but the wildlife that must adapt to the new ecosystem?
There are many such stories in this book. Note, also, that the end of each chapter some “mind-tickling” questions are posed, the answers to which may be found at the end of the book.
I have spent a good part of my years on this Earth split between the great outdoors and the biology classroom, all the time carrying new knowledge back and forth between the two. Here’s hoping this book on the outdoors enhances your appreciation of the outdoors.
Robert L. (Bob) Ballantyne
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