by Terry Grosz
2017, Wolfpack Publishing, e-book
Terry Grosz in his memoir, Defending Our Wildlife Heritage: The Life and Times of a Special Agent, tells about his years as an agent with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and shows his passion for the natural world and his drive to keep it safe for future generations.
Some of his tales deal with greed, such as illegally selling eagle feathers or taking too many ducks to sell the meat at a profit, or stupidity, such as indiscriminately killing an endangered species and then stomping them into the ground because they are not the game birds they wanted. Other stories deal with poor farmers who may violate the law to help feed their families. Still others deal with personal insights into nature or culture.
One of my favorite chapters (“The Medicine Man”) describes how an eagle can be far more than just a way to make money or evidence in a legal violation but could touch on the spiritual. In Grosz’ words: “We had shared a very special moment with a man who had the gift of being able to look into time. I have never had such an experience since.”
Grosz tells a good story. In fact, these tales might even play better hearing them around a dinner table with a good country meal or around a stove on a winter’s night. He “tells them like he sees them” – whether it’s about the law breakers (“the hunters got out of their blind and walked into the water. Picking up the dead and badly crippled ducks, they tossed the mallards, after wringing their necks, toward the blind and stomped any duck of lesser species into the soft, muddy bottom. You bastards! I thought. Stomping ducks and wasting game will cost you…” ); government attorneys (“two of only six attorneys I met in my thirty-two year career I considered honorable and ethical beyond any doubt”); or praise for those who helped in the fight (“the American people need to doff their hats to such folks because the services that they render often help the critters win”).
In places, this folksy telling gives one pause, as his description of “flat-as-a-plate of puke farmland.” Another time when an irate citizen tried to run over him over with a tractor, he said it “would have killed me if I had stumbled and fallen under it” which would have qualified the attacker “for the plowing of other, more ethereal fields that that one in North Dakota that fine fall day, if you catch my drift.”
That is perhaps the way to get the most from these stories. Just sit back, imagine Grosz telling these stories in his own unique way around a hot stove on a cold night, and enjoy.
An advanced reader’s copy of this book was provided in exchange for an honest review.