Western New Yorker’s book will resonate with hunters

goa-coverWhen I was contacted by Joel Spring of Ransomville about a new book he had written, I had a certain sense of excitement. I started to read it the day it came in the mail and I was mesmerized by the ghosts of Spring (the writer, not the season). The book – “The Ghosts of Autumn: A Season of Hunting Stories” – was actually compared to Aldo Leopold’s timeless classic “A Sand County Almanac” by Tom McIntyre of Sports Afield and Field and Stream magazines. That’s some pretty heavy praise from a pretty heavy hitter in the outdoor world. Spring’s book is worthy of the comparison.

If you are a dog lover, an upland game hunter, a small game hunter, a big game hunter or just someone who loves the outdoors and enjoys a good read, this is one book you need to pick up. For starters, Spring is a local nimrod and angler from Ransomville – a Niagara County native proud of his heritage. He’s also an excellent writer, captivating his experiences in Western New York as well as in some special haunts around the Empire State and beyond in spiriting words. He shares special times afield that will make you cry, laugh … and remember.

For example, in one chapter on “Firsts” he reflects on special memories that surge through his brain – first squirrel, first pheasant, first dog, first deer, first bear … the list goes on. And it gets you thinking about your own firsts, your own special places and your own outdoor experiences that you and you alone own – like my first buck taken on the hills of southern Steuben County.

I was 17 years old, hunting just below my father (Bill, Sr.) and his stately hemlock on the hills of Greenwood. My chosen tree was not as large, matching the hunter’s experience with the life of this smaller leaf-carrier. It was cold and I huddled up tightly trying to keep warm … taking up temporary residence in the slashings that provided some sanctuary for deer meandering through from forest to forest.

As I sat motionless, a slight rustle of leaves caught my attention from behind. There had been squirrels around so I was not initially alarmed. As I slowly turned my head I saw the brown coloration of a large-bodied animal out of the corner of my eye. Deer! I spun to the right of the tree to try and take aim quickly, but I immediately noticed it was a doe. Back then there were party permits with numbers of hunters on a single permit. I didn’t have one. The deer bounded off about 40 yards and stopped.

My next move was to prepare for the possibility that a buck may be following. My hunch proved correct as a nice six-pointer came through the same opening the doe had just moved through. As I prepared for a shot, the doe let out a bleat that stopped the buck in its tracks, giving me a perfect broadside target. I slowly pushed the safety off and squeezed the trigger on the Remington Model 18 20 gauge, a gun passed down from my grandfather who purchased it secondhand in the 1920s. The blast broke the silence and the buck dropped to the ground. I waited a few minutes to let my heart beat racing before I walked in from behind the animal, a lesson taught early on. The deer never moved. It was then I noticed the doe slowly walk off in the distance, finally realizing that buck would no longer be chasing her. She had been watching me the entire time. While I was elated that I had just taken my first buck, a rite of passage of sorts, I was still sad. It was a way to pay the animal its last respects and I was thankful for the opportunity.

Spring gives us some of his inner-most feelings on his outdoor world, a personal paradise that is just around the corner from where I grew up. Sometimes it’s with family and friends; sometimes it’s just with him and his dogs. It’s like that throughout the entire book. And with each sentence, with each page and chapter, Spring gives cause for the reader to reflect on their own outdoor experiences, feelings and wanderings. Once I started the book I found it difficult to put down. Read it, you won’t be disappointed. The book is now on sale, a product of Skyhorse Publishing. I know you can order it from Amazon, too. Check it out at www.skyhorsepublishing.com. Another option is to go to www.joelspring.com.

Categories: New York – Bill Hilts Jr

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