If you've ever thought about a fisherman's life on the banks of a trout stream or knee-deep in the Bahamian surf, or just contemplated why the seasons change colors, you might want to hitch a ride with Jim Fergus.
The self-described "hook-and-bullet hack" -- in fact, one of the most thoughtful hunting and fishing writers in America, a field editor for Sports Afield magazine -- travels "The Sporting Road" like Kerouac with a fly rod and a 12-gauge, where every stream is a stream of consciousness. As you cruise the blue highways from Washington to Florida, Fergus muses about hunters' patient wives, sharptail grouse, bamboo fly-rods, the coming of snow, bonefishing, Native American culture, lives worth living, the perils facing small towns, good dogs and good friends. There's a certain poetry that emanates from somewhere deep down, an echo of a primitive time, brought up-to-date by Airstream trailers, Coleman grills and, for better or worse, Eddie Bauer.
This is a good book for non-hunters and non-anglers, the most militant of whom assume avid sportsmen have little conscience or intellect. Fergus proves otherwise. He is an eloquent spokesman for the sporting life, not defensive and clearly thoughtful. If you've ever wanted to understand the allure of frigid mornings in high-plains cornfields, or soggy nights on the banks of an unknown river, or why a hunter would drive for two days for a fleeting glimpse of a bird too small for dinner on its own, read "The Sporting Road."