Sky Dance: Fighting for the wild in the Scottish Highlands

Vertebrate Publishing
Free sample

Lord Purdey was shaking with anger. 'Bring back the lynx? Over my dead body!”

The environmental protestors murmured, and Rory stepped forward. ‘Your hunting has destroyed our hills and left them treeless wastes, devoid of wildlife. It’s time that changed.’

‘Listen, you lentil-eating cat lover,’ Purdey barked through the megaphone, ‘men like me own Scotland. If we want to kill anything that moves and turn the whole damn place into a theme park, we’ll do it.’

Someone from the group of protestors hurled a turnip. It struck Purdey and he crumpled to the ground. Just as the archaic class system he represents must eventually fall, Angus thought with a grin.

In his first two bestselling books, The Last Hillwalker and Bothy Tales, John D. Burns invited readers to join him in the hills and wild places of Scotland. In Sky Dance, he returns to that world to ask fundamental questions about how we relate to this northern landscape – while raising a laugh or two along the way. Anyone who has gazed at the majesty of the Scottish mountains will know this place and want to return to it. Now, as wild land is threatened like never before, it’s time we asked ourselves what kind of future we want for the Highlands.

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About the author

John D. Burns is a bestselling and award-winning mountain writer who has spent over forty years exploring Britain’s mountains. Originally from Merseyside, he moved to Inverness over thirty years ago to follow his passion for the hills. He is a past member of the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team and has walked and climbed in the American and Canadian Rockies, Kenya, the Alps and the Pyrenees. John began writing more than fifteen years ago, and at first found an outlet for his creativity as a performance poet. He has taken one-man plays to the Edinburgh Fringe and toured them widely around theatres and mountain festivals in the UK. It is the combination of John’s love of the outdoors with his passion for writing and performance that makes him a uniquely powerful storyteller. His first two books, The Last Hillwalker and Bothy Tales, were both shortlisted for The Great Outdoors magazine’s Outdoor Book of the Year. His third book, Sky Dance, is published in 2019. He continues to develop his career as a writer, blogger and outdoor storyteller while exploring the wild places he loves.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Vertebrate Publishing
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Published on
Sep 5, 2019
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Pages
416
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ISBN
9781912560271
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Action & Adventure
Nature / Environmental Conservation & Protection
Sports & Recreation / Hunting
Sports & Recreation / Mountaineering
Sports & Recreation / Walking
Travel / Special Interest / Hikes & Walks
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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A wolf pack has been moved into central Idaho from Canada and deposited near the small ranching town of Challis, on the Salmon River. Usually only a breeding pair is introduced, but on this occasion an entire pack has been brought as a group in order to observe how long it remains intact before some drift away. B-17, the alpha male, B-14, the alpha female, and their offspring all wear the hated radio collars about their necks.

Charlie, the third generation of the Buchanan family to occupy the Rafter B ranch, had joined the army nine years ago because of continual feuding with his father, old C.S. Buchanan. Upon separation from Special Forces, he returns to the ranch because of a feeling of familial obligation to carry on its hundred-year tradition. He finds the ranch in disrepair and occupied only by C.S. and Buck Travers, the elderly ranch foreman. They are aged and irascible, constantly sniping at each other, and virtually uninterested in the prosperity or appearance of the Rafter B. Worse, C.S. is under siege by various governmental agenciesIdaho Fish and Game, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Environment Protection Agency, I.R.S., and the Forest Service are all sniping at him for various transgressions. Although discharged from the Service, Charlie remains very patriotic and cannot believe the irrational stand his government is taking on some of these issues. C.S. is served with a warrant for draining a wetland and has to appear in District Court. Charlie seeks the legal aid of Henry J. Twilling, the only local attorney, and is informed of a number of egregious actions taken by the E.P.A. in such matters in the past.

The local militia group, the Christian Guard Tabernacle, and its ordained-by-mail minister, Clete Jarvis, volunteer their assistance to the Buchanan cause, but Charlie finds their creed too bigoted and violently racist, clothed though it is in religious trappings. He shuns them.

A trial date is set, but before it arrives the wolves get among the Rafter B cattle. C.S. shoots a wolf in full view of some Fish and Wildlife agents who are in a helicopter overhead. They swoop down, arrest him, and place him in handcuffs. He suffers a heart attack under the emotional strain and dies on the spot. Charlie considers this the ultimate harassment and he sets out to kill the reintroduced wolf pack as his anti-government statement.

His ill-advised mission carries over into the winter season and becomes a grim wilderness adventure. His intentions cause much anger in Amy Richards, Charlies lover, who is a strong environmentalist. She reports his actions to the local sheriff. Soon Charlies hunt for the wolves involve him and sometimes the militia group on one side of the struggle, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sheriff Baxter, National Guard helicopters with their infra red heat scanning, in concert with the brutal winter weather on the other side. After three in the wolf pack have been killed, B-17, the old alpha male, also becomes a hunter and antagonist of Charlie Buchanan.

In the end, the struggle focuses on B-17 and Charlie alone. Only one survives in this novel which, being essentially pro-wolf in nature, illustrates clearly that many levels of predatory activity exist in our society. The wolves are not the only predators.

Peter Benchley’s fascination with the sea and its magnificent inhabitants inspired such classic novels as Jaws and The Deep, making him the preeminent author of ocean adventure and suspense. The Girl of the Sea of Cortez was his most heartfelt, cherished story of the relationship between man and the sea, both those that live in it and those who love it. 
 
On an island in the Gulf of California, an intrepid young woman named Paloma carries a special legacy from her father—a deep understanding of the sea and a sixth sense about the need to protect it.
 
Every day, Paloma paddles her tiny boat into the ocean and anchors over a seamount—a submerged volcanic peak sixty feet underwater that is clustered with spectacular sea animals and a wondrous web of marine life.
 
It is there that an astonishing event takes place, when on one of her dives Paloma is shadowed by a manta ray—an animal so large it blocks the sun. She develops an extraordinary relationship with this luminous, gentle creature, but instinctively knows its existence is a secret she must fiercely protect.
 
Benchley’s novel paints a poignant picture of humanity’s precarious relationship with the ocean, which unfolds alongside a heartrending story of familial bonds, often revealing that the ignorance of man is far more dangerous than the sea. Full of beauty, danger, and adventure, The Girl of the Sea of Cortez is triumphant—a novel to fall in love with.
 
Praise for The Girl of the Sea of Cortez
 
“It’s hard not to compare Benchley’s tale . . . with Hemingway’s classic The Old Man and the Sea.”—The Christian Science Monitor
 
“Charming.”—The New York Times Book Review
 
“For a hot summer’s day, The Girl of the Sea of Cortez is the next best thing to looking through a clear face mask into blue water swimming with fish.”—United Press International
“Revelatory . . . With every chapter, you get a history lesson, a hunting lesson, a nature lesson and a cooking lesson. . . . Meat Eater offers an overabundance to savor.”—The New York Times Book Review
 
Steven Rinella grew up in Twin Lake, Michigan, the son of a hunter who taught his three sons to love the natural world the way he did. As a child, Rinella devoured stories of the American wilderness, especially the exploits of his hero, Daniel Boone. He began fishing at the age of three and shot his first squirrel at eight and his first deer at thirteen. He chose the colleges he went to by their proximity to good hunting ground, and he experimented with living solely off wild meat. As an adult, he feeds his family from the food he hunts.
 
Meat Eater chronicles Rinella’s lifelong relationship with nature and hunting through the lens of ten hunts, beginning when he was an aspiring mountain man at age ten and ending as a thirty-seven-year-old Brooklyn father who hunts in the remotest corners of North America. He tells of having a struggling career as a fur trapper just as fur prices were falling; of a dalliance with catch-and-release steelhead fishing; of canoeing in the Missouri Breaks in search of mule deer just as the Missouri River was freezing up one November; and of hunting the elusive Dall sheep in the glaciated mountains of Alaska.
 
Through each story, Rinella grapples with themes such as the role of the hunter in shaping America, the vanishing frontier, the ethics of killing, the allure of hunting trophies, the responsibilities that human predators have to their prey, and the disappearance of the hunter himself as Americans lose their connection with the way their food finds its way to their tables. Hunting, he argues, is intimately connected with our humanity; assuming responsibility for acquiring the meat that we eat, rather than entrusting it to proxy executioners, processors, packagers, and distributors, is one of the most respectful and exhilarating things a meat eater can do.
 
A thrilling storyteller with boundless interesting facts and historical information about the land, the natural world, and the history of hunting, Rinella also includes after each chapter a section of “Tasting Notes” that draws from his thirty-plus years of eating and cooking wild game, both at home and over a campfire. In Meat Eater he paints a loving portrait of a way of life that is part of who we are as humans and as Americans.

Praise for Meat Eater
 
“Full of empathy and intelligence . . . In some sections of the book, the author’s prose is so engrossing, so riveting, that it matches, punch for punch, the best sports writing.”—The Wall Street Journal
 
“Steven Rinella is one of the best nature writers of the last decade. . . . This book was a page-turner.”—Tim Ferris
 
“Rinella’s writing is unerringly smart, direct, and sharply detailed.”—The Boston Globe
 
“A unique and valuable alternate view of where our food comes from.”—Anthony Bourdain
A comprehensive big-game hunting guide, perfect for hunters ranging from first-time novices to seasoned experts, with more than 400 photographs, including work by renowned outdoor photographer John Hafner  
 
Steven Rinella was raised in a hunting family and has been pursuing wild game his entire life. In this first-ever complete guide to hunting—from hunting an animal to butchering and cooking it—the host of the popular hunting show MeatEater shares his own expertise with us, and imparts strategies and tactics from many of the most experienced hunters in the United States as well.
 
This invaluable book includes
• recommendations on what equipment you will need—and what you can do without—from clothing to cutlery to camping gear to weapons
• basic and advanced hunting strategies, including spot-and-stalk hunting, ambush hunting, still hunting, drive hunting, and backpack hunting
• how to effectively use decoys and calling for big game
• how to find hunting locations, on both public and private land, and how to locate areas that other hunters aren’t using
• how and when to scout hunting locations for maximum effectiveness
• basic information on procuring hunting tags, including limited-entry “draw” tags
• a species-by-species description of fourteen big-game animals, from their mating rituals and preferred habitats to the best hunting techniques—both firearm and archery—for each species
• how to plan and pack for backcountry hunts
• instructions on how to break down any big-game animal and transport it from your hunting site
• how to butcher your own big-game animals and select the proper cuts for sausages, roasts, and steaks, and how to utilize underappreciated cuts such as ribs and shanks
• cooking techniques and recipes, for both outdoor and indoor preparation of wild game
From the host of the television series and podcast MeatEater, the long-awaited definitive guide to cooking wild game, including fish and fowl, featuring more than 100 new recipes

“As a MeatEater fan who loves to cook, I can tell you that this book is a must-have.”—Andrew Zimmern

When Steven Rinella hears from fans of his MeatEater show and podcast, it’s often requests for more recipes. One of the most respected and beloved hunters in America, Rinella is also an accomplished wild game cook, and he offers recipes here that range from his takes on favorite staples to more surprising and exotic meals.

Big Game: Techniques and strategies for butchering and cooking all big game, from whitetail deer to moose, wild hogs, and black bear, and recipes for everything from shanks to tongue. 
Small Game: How to prepare appetizers and main courses using common small game species such as squirrels and rabbits as well as lesser-known culinary treats like muskrat and beaver. 
Waterfowl: How to make the most of available waterfowl, ranging from favorites like mallards and wood ducks to more challenging birds, such as wild geese and diving ducks. 
Upland Birds: A wide variety of butchering methods for all upland birds, plus recipes, including Thanksgiving wild turkey, grilled grouse, and a fresh take on jalapeño poppers made with mourning dove. 
Freshwater Fish: Best practices for cleaning and cooking virtually all varieties of freshwater fish, including trout, bass, catfish, walleye, suckers, northern pike, eels, carp, and salmon. 
Saltwater Fish: Handling methods and recipes for common and not-so-common species of saltwater fish encountered by anglers everywhere, from Maine to the Bahamas, and from Southern California to northern British Columbia. 
Everything else: How to prepare great meals from wild clams, crabs, crayfish, mussels, snapping turtles, bullfrogs, and even sea cucumbers and alligators.   

Whether you’re cooking outdoors or in the kitchen, at the campfire or on the grill, this cookbook will be an indispensable guide for both novices and expert chefs.

“Rinella goes to the next level and offers some real deal culinary know-how to make sure that your friends and family will dig what you put on the table.”—Guy Fieri

“[A] must-read cookbook for those seeking a taste of the wild.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
A New York Times Bestseller

A dramatic, inspiring memoir by legendary rock climber Tommy Caldwell, the first person to free climb the Dawn Wall of Yosemite’s El Capitan   

“The rarest of adventure reads:  it thrills with colorful details of courage and perseverance but it enriches readers with an absolutely captivating glimpse into how a simple yet unwavering resolve can turn adversity into reward.” —The Denver Post

A finalist for the Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature

On January 14, 2015, Tommy Caldwell, along with his partner, Kevin Jorgeson, summited what is widely regarded as the hardest climb in history—Yosemite’s nearly vertical 3,000-foot Dawn Wall, after nineteen days on the route. Caldwell’s odds-defying feat—the subject of the documentary film The Dawn Wall to be released nationwide in September—was the culmination of an entire lifetime of pushing himself to his limits as an athlete.

This engrossing memoir chronicles the journey of a boy with a fanatical mountain-guide father who was determined to instill toughness in his son to a teen whose obsessive nature drove him to the top of the sport-climbing circuit. Caldwell’s affinity for adventure then led him to the vertigo-inducing and little understood world of big wall free climbing. But his evolution as a climber was not without challenges; in his early twenties, he was held hostage by militants in a harrowing ordeal in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan. Soon after, he lost his left index finger in an accident. Later his wife, and main climbing partner, left him. Caldwell emerged from these hardships with a renewed sense of purpose and determination. He set his sights on free climbing El Capitan’s biggest, steepest, blankest face—the Dawn Wall. This epic assault took more than seven years, during which time Caldwell redefined the sport, found love again, and became a father.

The Push is an arresting story of focus, drive, motivation, endurance, and transformation, a book that will appeal to anyone seeking to overcome fear and doubt, cultivate perseverance, turn failure into growth, and find connection with family and with the natural world.
This no-holds-barred autobiography chronicles the remarkable life of Phil Robertson, the original Duck Commander and Duck Dynasty® star, from early childhood through the founding of a family business.

LIVING THE DREAM

Duck calls—though the source of his livelihood—are not what makes Phil Robertson the man he is today. When asked what matters in his life, he’s quick to say, “Faith, family, ducks—in that order.”

It isn’t often that a person can live a dream, but Phil Robertson, aka The Duck Commander, has proven that it is possible with vision, hard work, helping hands, and an unshakable faith in the Almighty. Phil’s is the remarkable story of one man who followed the call he received from God and soon after invented a duck call that would begin an incredible journey to the life he had always dreamed of for himself and his family. In the love of his country, his family, and his maker, Phil has finally found the ingredients to the “good life” he always wanted.

If you ever wind up sitting face-to-face with Phil, you’ll see that his enthusiasm and passion for duck hunting and the Lord is no act—it is truly who he is.

If you’ve watched the exceedingly popular A&E® program Duck Dynasty®, you already know the famed Phil Robertson. As patriarch of the Robertson clan and creator of Duck Commander duck calls, he fearlessly leads his family in a responsible work ethic and an active faith.

But what you don’t know is his life before the show. In the pages of this book, you’ll learn of Phil’s colorful past and his wild road to the “happy, happy, happy” life he leads today. Before the “happy,” Phil’s passion for the outdoors and wild living led him down some shady paths. As a young husband and father, he became the proprietor of a rough bar and lived a life, as he says, of “romping, stomping, and ripping” for a number of years. He even left his wife and young boys for a short period of time.

Through it all, Phil Robertson has lived his life as a “called” man. Called to live off the land, called to leave a starring role in Louisiana Tech football (playing ahead of Terry Bradshaw) for duck hunting, called to wild living, called to create a new kind of duck call—and finally, called to follow God and lead a life of faith.

In this eye-opening and rousing book, you’ll find stories that will shock you, as well as those that will inspire you. You’ll get to know the man behind the legend, and you’ll come away better for it.
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