I was born right here in Wellsboro Pennsylvania and I grew up loving the woods and the wild things in ‘em. I remember fishing for bass with my uncle, and gathering ginseng with my Grandpa and berries with my Grandma (I always ended up with more in my belly than in the basket), and just lying in the backyard under a starry summer sky.
I’m writing this book review Of A Predatory Heart for seasoned woodsman Joe Parry. Joe is just what he appears to be: a blue-collar working class guy, but Joe has a talent that not everyone has. Joe is a natural storyteller, and he can put it to paper. The first rule of writing is to write what you know. Joe does one better, he writes what he *is*, a little guy with a big heart. His stories brought memories of my Grandpa, and my first hunting knife, of that special dog, and some brought tears of laughter. But more importantly, I thought these were stories that would do the same for many people the world over. You know how you read a book so good that you just have to share it? Yep, this is just such a book. Joe is chock full of tales and has many quality stories.
Joe Parry, a Vietnam vet and an outdoor writer, has written for the Pennsylvania Game News, Field and Stream, Fins and Feathers, Turkey Magazine, Sports Afield, Readers Digest, Northwest Outdoors, the Philadelphia Daily News, and the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, and our very own Wellsboro Gazette. These stories on hunting, fishing, and the outdoor lifestyle run from snort-milk-through-your nose funny, to bringing a tear to a seasoned woodsman’s eye. It’s a memoir of a lifelong outdoorsman, starting from his return from the Vietnam War, with tales ranging from archery hunting, fly-fishing, introducing children to woodcraft, and the bond that forms between generations through appreciation of the woodlands.
I especially enjoyed reading *The Royal Roachman*. My uncle was a dedicated fly fisherman, and I remember the dining room table covered with vices and tiny hooks and filled with turkey feathers and multi-colored deer tails. I would watch him create delicate mimicries and speak of matching the hatch. That’s why I could not stop laughing when I read the short story. Anyone who has every tried to duplicate one of nature’s creations, will surely appreciate “Big Bill’s” gallant but feeble attempt, and the creation of THE FLY.
Perhaps, that’s what is so familiar about Joe’s book. It will remind you of home. Hunting and fishing is an important part of our culture here in Tioga County, and there’s something about the smell of gun oil and the searing heat of a woodstove that has a place in any hunter’s heart. If you were raised hunting, you know there’s just something about a gun. No man deserves the title of hunter that doesn’t feel a deep, honest gratitude for nature’s bounty.
Joe feels this and it’s evident in his writing. This collection of short stories has a widespread appeal, from non-hunters to avid fishermen, to seasoned vets who cherish the solitude and majesty of the forest. If you enjoyed *Of Woods and Wild Things* by Wellsboro Gazette columnist Don Knaus, you are going to love *Of A Predatory Heart*. As my Uncle once said, “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, but teach a man to fish and he’ll be drinking beer and telling lies in no time.
So grab yourself a cold drink, hunker down and enjoy some great outdoor writing.