Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

On How Not to Die in the Wilderness

Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

On How Not to Die in the Wilderness

Article excerpt

On How Not to Die in the Wilderness Bruce L. Smith. Stories from Afield: Adventures with Wild Things in Wild Places. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, October 2016. ISBN: 978-0-8032-8816-4. Outdoor Adventure. 210pp. 5X8". $18.95.

This is a nature narrative from a retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manager and scientist, who has been fighting for conservation in Wyoming and winning awards for these efforts. The story also takes Smith to western Montana and South Africa's temperate forest. The stories branch away from conservationism to other adventures Smith has had in the wild, including surviving a helicopter crash, and his somewhat contradictory hunting tales. The bit about Smith's willingness to hunt and kill some species while he conserves others stands out from the description. Are rare species more deserving of life? But, then again, if I eat meat, I might be doing the meat I eat a service if I hunt it down in a forest rather than contributing to the success of the farm poultry industry which is putting the animals in restraints.

Chapter "One: Snowbound" opens with an explanation that he was surveying "elk, mule deer and bighorn sheep in the Owl Creek Mountains of Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming" in January 1980 (1), when he experienced the helicopter crash that's stressed in the back-cover blurb. He gives a very detailed description of the unique helicopter, giving its year of creation and the fact that it appeared in M.A.S.H. After the crash, Smith details the worry they felt as they were trying to strategies if they would manage to finish the survey or if they might parish where they crashed without a speedy rescue (8). Basically, the narrative reminds me of Jack London's stories that are based on London's own experiences in the wild. …

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