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If You Didn't Bring Jerky, What Did I Just Eat: Misadventures in Hunting, Fishing, and the Wilds of Suburbia Paperback – October 1, 2008

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If You Didn't Bring Jerky, What Did I Just Eat: Misadventures in Hunting, Fishing, and the Wilds of Suburbia + You're Not Lost if You Can Still See the Truck: The Further Adventures of America's Everyman Outdoorsman + It's Only Slow Food Until You Try to Eat It: Misadventures of a Suburban Hunter-Gatherer
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Bill Heavey is my favorite writer. When I die, I want him to gut me, stuff me and deliver my eulogy for one good last laugh.”—Ted Nugent

“Bill Heavey’s writing is funny, moving acerbic and, best of all, always alert to the absurdities of life. This is a book that will be read and reread for years and probably for generations.”—Patrick F. McManus, author of Kerplunk!

“Heavey’s writing is at times so honest, so soul-baring, that he makes you feel downright uncomfortable for peeking into his life or the lives of his subjects, despite being invited. . . . He conveys his foibles and follies with a wit to which most of us can relate.”—Billings Gazette (Montana)

“[Heavey’s stories] will leave you snickering, snorting, belly laughing, and succumbing to uncontrolled outbursts. Mixed in there, I will warn you, are a few stories that might leave you heading for the back room so nobody will notice the tear in your eye.”—Maine Hunting Today

"The art of the story, a casualty of the era of Internet fixation, is a thing of beauty in Bill Heavy's voice. His best 62 yarns with Field & Stream are published in this collection, including "Rut Strategies For the Married Hunter," "Death and Fishing" and "The Art of Lying." One theme that runs through the yarns is the difficulty faced by a suburban outdoorsman who wants to fish and hunt. These make for great out-loud bedtime reads for kids."—Tom Stienstra, San Francisco Chronicle

“Bill Heavey works his hunting and fishing schedule around the duties of a modern dad: mowing the lawn; paying the bills; and ferrying his daughter Emma to school, the dentist, play dates, and toy stores. In other words, he lives like most of us, and perhaps that is why his pieces are so resonant. For him, being at large in the woods for even a few hours is a spiritual journey, and the fact that the enterprise is doomed to failure more often than not is almost incidental. While he may not be in the accelerated class, skills-wise, Heavey has the heart of a true hunter. I urge you to buy this book.”—David E. Petzal, Field & Stream columnist and author of The Complete Book of Hunting

“Oh, Bill Heavey, you’ve gone and done it now! Just when I thought all the outdoor writers who could bring the feel of the woods to the printed page had all gone to their reward—guys like Ruark, Hemingway, and Babcock—you come along and prove me wrong. Heavey has an incredible talent for taking the stuff of everyday life—the frustrations and snippets of conversation and days when you don’t catch a fish or see a deer—and throwing it all back at us with a slant that somehow brings us hope, reassures us we’re not alone, and actually makes us grin. He does all of this because he was born to do it. I think God put him here to show us that what seems like just another day is actually a miracle, a once-in-a-lifetime event that we ought to be grateful for even as it slips through our hands.”—Will Primos, founder and president of Primos Hunting Calls

From the Publisher

From The Baltimore Sun, December 23, 2007

Shticks, stones, funny bones

Candus Thomson

Bill Heavey's humor columns make dandy bookmarks.

That's a compliment.

For a number of years, I have been carefully tearing the back page out of Field and Stream, underlining his best lines and archiving them in travel books, cookbooks and the latest best-seller that resides in my personal library on the toilet tank.

This is my way of acknowledging both his writing skill and the fact that my alma mater, Emerson College (sadly named for Charles Wesley, the carnival barker, not Ralph Waldo, the essayist), will never dedicate a Thomson wing in the campus library filled with my papers.

But magazine pages get old and frayed. And when the Charmin runs out, you'd better believe all bets are off.

Luckily, Field and Stream has seen fit to bundle some of Heavey's best work into a single volume, If You Didn't Bring Jerky, What Did I Just Eat? (Atlantic Monthly Press, $23).

Heavey, a Northern Virginia resident who claims Maryland's woods and waters as his home turf, is just as funny in hardcover as he is stuffed in a book on the back of the American Standard.

If you're a regular reader, you know Heavey claims no extraordinary talents to make him the alpha outdoorsman. He writes: "I am physically unimpressive, have the woods sense of a parking meter and for years thought that a 'staging area' was where deer rehearsed theatrical performances."

It's a shtick that works. If you fish or hunt, you will embrace a lot of Heavey's takes on the outdoors and laugh at some of the stuff he does. For example:

* On finding his daughter Emma's SpongeBob Squarepants book in his hunting backpack while in a tree stand: "After not even seeing a deer all morning, and with nothing to lose, I pushed the button decorated with a giggling SpongeBob. Out came a sound like a doe bleat on helium. Intrigued, I hit it again. A doe emerged from the bushes 70 yards distant, where it stood alert and frozen for two minutes. I hit the button once more. Fifteen minutes later, I sent an arrow into that deer. I am unsure about SpongeBob's sexual orientation, but I will say this: The boy knows deer."

* On bass fishing TV shows: "Many television hosts like to kiss the bass they catch. I don't know who started this, but it has become epidemic. And it has to be hurting the catch-and-release survival rate. How strong do you think your will to live would be if the last thing you saw before being set free was an extreme close-up of [professional angler] Woo Daves' lips?"

* On spinning rod vs. fly rod: "My idea of fun is catching fish. Tons of them if possible. I love the tug and the way all three of us - the fish, the line, and I - become electrically connected for a few moments. I can count on zero fingers the number of times I've gone to bed thinking, 'That would have been a pretty good day if I hadn't caught so many fish.' But you can't tell a fly fisherman that. He'll give you some mumbo jumbo about 'loving the process,' spit white wine in your eye, and run you over with his Saab."

* On bow hunting in January: "The strange fact is that I like the late season, cold and all. I like it because the smart hunters - those smug guys diligent enough to scout the preseason and disciplined enough to avoid over-hunting prime stands - have tagged out. That leaves the woods to guys like me: the obsessed, the unhinged, the ones who don't know when to quit. There is a strange satisfaction in this kind of hunting. If you get a deer, the victory is that much sweeter. If not, it sure wasn't for lack of trying."

* On the agony of waiting at Fletcher's Boathouse in D.C. for the water to warm enough for fishing: "It would be easier all around if fish lived in the air. Air's a pushover. You throw it a little sunlight and it snuggles into your arms and coos, 'My place or yours?' Even soil heats up fairly fast. A single warm day like this one has no problem coaxing the daffodils and forsythia into promiscuous behavior they'll regret with tomorrow's cold snap. But water remembers what Mama told her. She requires the prolonged application of warmth before she comes around."

Heavey, 52, wasn't always in this line of work. Until age 40, he toiled for a construction trade association, "making the world safe for concrete."

A minor midlife crisis convinced him to shuck a regular paycheck and take the poverty vow of a full-time freelance outdoors writer. A newspaper travel story about smallmouth bass fishing was just the lure for Field and Stream, which brought him in from the cold.

"The outdoors is just a lens through which I filter everything, and a lot of the stuff, it's everyman kind of stuff about the difficulty of getting out to fish and hunt and be a good dad and husband," he explains while driving to a parent-teacher conference.

He didn't grow up hunting, but says he learned first to deer hunt and then graduated to bow hunting "to give me something to lie about the other six months of the year."

Now the challenge is to balance doing and writing.

"Sometimes, you have to carve out those 10 minutes for a 3,000-word feature and just bear down," he says, laughing. "It's brutal."

Does Heavey envision a day when he runs out of ways to poke fun at himself?

"The short answer is no," he says, driving and laughing. "There's not too much competition on the doofus front."

So, Bill, why should people buy your book?

"Because I desperately need the money," says Heavey, still laughing. "I've got all my eggs in one basket."

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; Reprint edition (October 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802143954
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802143952
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #317,890 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bill Heavey was born in Birmingham, Alabama, so that his mother would not have to endure the shame of having had a Yankee child. The first article he ever published as about teaching children to write poetry. This was probably the high point of his career. He descended into travel writing, profiles and finally into first person narrative.

He is an editor-at-large for Field & Stream, is still not exactly sure what that means, but figures it's better than an editor-behind-bars. He also writes the back page column, "A Sportsman's Life."

Bill is the author of "If You Didn't Bring Jerky, What Did I Just Eat?", a collection of his Field & Stream work, and "It's Only Slow Food Until You Try to Eat It: Misadventures of a Suburban Hunter-Gatherer." In which he attempts to close the distance between himself and what he eats, earning many valuable - and usually accidental, also hilarious -- lessons along the way.
("Edible," for example, is very different from "tasty." Also it's harder to kill a squirrel with a hoe than you'd think).

His newest book is "You're Not Lost If You Can Still See the Truck: The Further Adventures of America's Everyman Outdoorsman." This collection spans Bill's career, from early musings about taking dancing lessons and why men hate shopping, and through the years chronicled within tracks his evolution both as a hunter and a father.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By D. W. MACDOUGALL on November 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Three cheers for Heavey's new book "If you didn't bring Jerky, What did I just eat?" I have read his stories in Field and stream for years and love to flip to the back of the magazine to see what he's been up to. This book is a collection of his stories and it makes the book hard to put down. The way he relates to the average Joe in his trials and errors is what makes this book an instant classic that I will never part with. I think this book will appeal to more than just the Field and Stream faithful and is worth taking the chance on if you love the outdoors.

Definetly worth a look.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on January 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I am currently editing a book of fishing stories that will be published in late 2008, I've read about 20 books on fishing in the last six months as part of my editing job. Bill Heavey's book has many things going for it. The writing is economical, clear and deftly funny, and each story is its own adventure. For example: one explores the absurdities of ice fishing, another details the Cuban version of the Bass Masters national tournament, and another the authors frustrations of getting skunked on a fishing trip in Mongolia. The stories in this book tend to be short (2-3 pages). You can usually finish one before your spouse catches on that you are reading and available to be interrupted.

While I am not a fan of hunting stories, I really enjoyed the ones he presents in this book, he has a way of tying hunting and fishing back to his wife and daughter, back to important, ironic, tragic, and personal moments in life.

These are the kind of stories that you read and find yourself repeating to your friends. They stuck with me and I enjoy carrying them through my days.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By K. Zitnay on November 24, 2008
Format: Paperback
Don't read this in bed unless you want to get kicked out for keeping your wife awake due to constantly laughing outloud uncontrollablly! I thoroughly enjoyed reading these stories, and highly recommend it for anyone who has ever been hunting or fishing.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By H. "Bumper" Bauer on January 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
It's been a long time since a book brought tears of laughter to my eyes but Bill's book did just that. He is an example of all of us, if we would be honest enough to admit it that is.
When I read about his bowhunting in bedroom slippers it really hit home, I made it to the driveway once wearing mine.
I would recommend this book to anyone who needs a laugh, but be prepared to read it once you begin you will not want to put it down. The only sad part about my experience was when the book came to an end; I sure hope Bill has another in the works.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Brandon S. Galvez on October 17, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
During the last hunting season I bought this book to read during the the downtime. I would not bring this book to a tree stand or a deer blind. I have never found myself laughing so much while reading a book in my entire life. I began reading the stories to my wife when we were going to bed. There were evenings when we were laughing so hard together that we had tears streaming down our faces. For those few people who bought this book and didn't like it, perhaps you don't get the humor. Perhaps you don't pour your heart and soul into hunting and fishing like some of us crazy obsessed fools do. If you are passionate about hunting and fishing and can laugh at yourself (or at least at Bill Heavey) you will enjoy this book. I wish Heavey had enough stories that my wife and I could read them every night for the rest of our lives. But then he wouldn't have any time to get out into the woods. BUY THIS BOOK!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J.Z. Potter on October 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Bill Heavey is an incredible writer. No, not everything he writes is laugh-out-loud funny...and it's not supposed to be. In so many of the bumbles, backfires, mishaps, and defeat turned to sudden and unexpected triumph, he lets us outdoor enthusiasts see ourselves. In an age of hunting where one-upmanship is constant and the magnificence of our quarry is often reduced to an antler score, we need a writer like Heavey. He captures the intangibles that keep us going out season after season...things we just can't put into words. Read the chapter "The Promised Land" to the end and tell me there's not a surge of emotion rushing over you once finished.

I highly recommend "If You Didn't Bring Jerky..." .
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Gregg Stockey on December 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I was not previously familiar with Heavey. I picked it up because of similarities to my book, "Guests At The Buck Falls Club." I really loved it. This author captures the real outdoors experience; joy mixed with folly and foul-ups. I laughed out loud and said more than once, "I wish I had written that."
Gregg Stockey
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Chris Gregory on December 6, 2013
Format: Paperback
Bill Heavey is another in the line of present-day outdoor humor writers. He hails from the Pat McManus, Ed Zerk, Robert Ruark, and Steve Galea, school of absurdity and subtle observation of hunting, fishing, and camping in the great outdoor world. Heavey has already established a large, loyal following of Field & Stream readers. The stories here are an accumulation of over fifty short tales.

I especially enjoyed and identified with Girl Meets Bluegill; enjoyed the story of the reluctance of a young girl going out on the open waters - battling something unknown under those waters! That reminded me of Madeline, my eldest granddaughter, as I took her float-tube fly-fishing (trolling not casting). She only agreed to it because her younger brother did it so successfully. All she wanted to do was catch a fish - one larger than Trenton's. Sure enough, her first fish was the largest of the day, a colorful 16-inch cut-throat trout! Once she got it in, she meekly proclaimed, "I'm ready to go back to dry land now."

Yes, Heavey's tales are definitely identifiable to the typical outdoorsman. They are well-written, and they leave the reader in anticipation of his next short story. If You Didn't Bring Jerky, What Did I Just Eat: Misadventures in Hunting, Fishing, and the Wilds of Suburbia

Chris Gregory, Buckshot Pie author, BuckshotPie.com, Buckshot Pie, a Family's Struggle Through Homesteading, the Great Depression, and World War II; also as Christopher E. Gregory, E-Zine Articles author, EzineArticles.com
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