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Wilder Ways

Wilder Ways

By Donald C. Jackson
Illustrated by Robert T. Jackson
Hardcover : 9781617032745, 240 pages, April 2012

A lifelong outdoorsman and teacher's accounts of the powerful bond between nature and humanity


In Wilder Ways, Donald C. Jackson takes readers on a journey into the deep and very personal connections that can develop between people and wild places while hunting, fishing, and rambling across landscapes. Fishing by lantern light late at night for bullhead catfish on a small stream, hunting wood ducks and squirrels on his farm in north Mississippi, bow hunting deer as twilight creeps across a small clearing, handlining crabs in the Pascagoula River estuary, hunting caribou in Alaska and elk in Colorado, searching for blind fish in Ozark caves, and fighting a storm on an Indonesian river: Jackson leads us into reflections of our own journeys and helps us to understand that we can be part of a wilder way, often very near to our homes.

We walk with him through the tall grass, wet with early morning dew, light tackle in hand, down to a “ditch” under a Mississippi highway bridge and then discover that the “ditch” is really a very fine stream full of fish. We recapture the essence of hunting by stalking fox squirrels in a small patch of hardwoods. We stand beside him, listening to the whistle of wings as ducks pass overhead in the pre-dawn light and fog that surround a tiny, brushy pond hidden in the woods. We smell the salt air and feel the power of a redfish as it strips line from the fishing reel while the sunset turns marsh to gold. We walk alone under the starlight along an Alaskan river after an afternoon of grayling fishing. We fall in love again with tents, tractors, and old brown dogs. Through the shared journeys in Wilder Ways, we link with the rhythms of the earth, understanding that the wilds are not something separate from us. We are all somewhat wilder than perhaps we ever imagine.


"‘If there's a creek around, I've got to get into it,’ is the beginning sentence of this book, and get into it Jackson does—as he always does in his books on the great outdoors. Jackson goes beyond hunting and fishing here. He gets into the thick of writing about being in harmony with nature—and scrambling around to find that harmony. This book might easily have been titled The Philosophy of Don Jackson—which would boil down to escaping the vagaries of the rat race so one can plunge oneself into the abundance of the great outdoors, family, spiritual recognition, all while taking the reverent in with irreverence. Does God have a sense of humor? Read Jackson and you'll be saying, ‘You bet he does. ’ This book is not just for outdoor enthusiasts—it's for anyone who wants to get caught up in the melodic sound of southern storytelling that awakens the nostalgia for what was and what yet will be if we just pay a little more attention to the small things in life. Prescription: read in large doses!"

- Sarah Gilbert, author of Hairdo and A League of Their Own

"In Wilder Ways, Don Jackson continues the tradition he began in his earlier books, Trails and Tracks, chronicling the beauties of the outdoors ranging from Deep South streams to the wilds of Alaska and Borneo. I've had the privilege of accompanying Don on a few of his excursions, so I am personally familiar with his skills as both an outdoorsman and a storyteller—and they are considerable. This book is a delight. "

- Ernest Herndon, author of Paddling the Pascagoula (with Scott B. Williams), Canoeing Mississippi, and Canoeing Louisiana

"Don Jackson holds that branch back so the reader can get a good look at nature. He steps over that stream without getting too wet but getting just wet enough so we know he's having fun. That's the thing about Jackson—he has fun writing and we have damned fun reading what he writes. "

- William Price Fox, author of Southern Fried, Ruby Red, and Doctor Golf

"Once again, Don has touched a chord with all those who relish a day in the woods and waters of places close to home or the wilds of the Arctic or Southeast Asia. You are his companion as he catches a fish, shares time with his daughter, and glories in the outdoors. It is a reflection of days spent with old dogs and good friends. It is a spiritual journey into the world that fills his body and soul and challenges each of us to really see and feel our surroundings. "

- Cathy Shropshire, former executive director, Mississippi Wildlife Federation