I just this minute finished Hunting from Home/A Year Afield in the Blue Ridge Mountains, which Natalie picked up for me for $4 at the Green Valley Book Fair, itself in the Blue Ridge near James Madison University. I’ve been nursing my way through it these four days at the beach, wanting to stretch it out, not wanting it to end. I’m inclined to send Christopher Camuto, its author, the $20 difference between the cover price and what Natalie paid, but realistically, I’ll probably buy another of his books instead.
This book is a year of intense observation, basecamped around the 200-acre Highland Farm in the southern Blue Ridge. Camuto is intimidatingly learned and apparently, natively intelligent. His writing, from my view, is full of profound thoughts and observations beautifully, and frequently poetically, captured. I have to admit my bias to his subject matter, though. Woods and birds and trout and deer, stars and seasons, time and mortality — well, I suppose in a sense he covers everything. My one complaint is that the title is somewhat misleading. It starts with grouse hunting, but then spends a long stretch on trout fishing, and on birds, before moving to trees, back to grouse hunting, and then the welcome climax of hunting deer with longbow and muzzleloader. I’m no fisherman, but I enjoyed those parts very much, and I am not and doubt I ever will be a birder; I complained a bit about the detail there, but still it was enjoyable reading.
This was one of those books that makes me wonder why I would ever try to write. A bit of the feeling I get from reading Faulkner. Better than I think I’d ever be able to achieve. (Take the compliment please, Mr. Camuto, but you know as well as I — Faulkner, that’s a stretch. But it’s the same idea.)
Had I not met the love of my life, I would be easily seduced by the solitary life Camuto describes. Just him and his bird dog, Patches, a cabin and a woodstove, 200 acres to learn and love, hunting, doing the work of living, writing…(sigh). Natalie thinks we could work it out.
Hunting from Home
A Year Afield in the Blue Ridge Mountains
by Christopher Camuto
W.W. Norton and Company
Buy it on Amazon
Footnote: Just googled Camuto and found that he’s on the faculty of Bucknell University now, the school that was at the top of my daughter’s list, but she didn’t make it in.
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