So I can't find Bill Heavey for our scheduled interview Friday. Two hours later, he calls back apologizing profusely: he had been scavenging in suburban Washington D.C. with a woman he once did a column on about suburban deer poachers.
I like the priorities of the man who nails the urban/suburban hunting and fishing experience in his Field & Stream ``Sportsman's Life'' columns.
His collection of columns, If You Didn't Bring Jerky, What Did I Just Eat?, is already into multiple printings. He will sign books at two area Cabela's on Saturday: in the Hammond, Ind. from 9 a.m.-noon and in Hoffman Estates from 3 p.m.-6 p.m.
Apologies aside, the interview begins and Heavey launches a tale about another interview where the questioner asks in all seriousness:
`` `Have you thought about guys reading this in the bathroom, because they are all short?' So I say I write to bathroom length.''
The back blurb on the book says Heavey ``is the Dave Barry of the Great Outdoors.'' While that catches his wit, I think it shortchanges how well he captures the experience of fishing and hunting around the suburbs.
``More and more people are in my situation. . . . We would all like to have grown up on the farm and been taught by granddad. Nobody in my family ever fired a gun outside of military service and I have come from a long line of soldiers. But they never hunted.''
With him, it is fishing the Potomac, James and Rappahannock rivers, usually out of his canoe. And deer hunting, especially with a bow, became a passion later in life.
And from the little things he says, he knows those things as well as any serious urban fisherman in the post 9-11 world does. ``I have shooed away from Fort McNair by sentries with M-16s.''
The love of interacting with suburbs and the outdoors was natural.
``I have always written from my own experience. I'm a suburban guy who grew up loving to fish.''
At summer camps, he fell in love with watching the bobber. He rediscovered fishing in his 20s.
He had primarily been a free-lance travel writer, after picking a degree in English from George Washington University.
When he turned 40, he ``flipped out'' and had the ``most mundane life crisis possible.'' He quit to write freelance fulltime and decided to try hunting (``to horrify my mother and have more stuff to lie about.'')
Next up for him is a book about spending a year on seeing how much of his own food he can hunt, fish, forage or grow in a given year.
``Foraging scares the bejesus out of me because so much is poisonous.''
That's why he was out scavenging with Paula Smith last week. And that gives me a perfect chance to give a taste of Heavey's writing. This is from the opening paragraph of ``The Enforcer'' on page 254:
``Gruff, gravel-voiced, somewhere in her mid-50s, Paula dresses like a river rat and has all the charm of a sawmill foreman. But come spring, I'd gladly take a date with her over Angelina Jolie, because Paula is the best shed hunter I've ever met.''