I have recently acquired and read as many of Burton’s Spiller’s books as I can find. He is undoubtably one of the finest sporting writers that ever put the pen to the page. His books, Grouse Feathers, More Grouse Feathers, Drummer in the Woods, and Fishin’ Around are some of my all-time favorites. In the past, I have shared some of my favorite quotes from his works.

In this same vein, I wanted to share a few more quotes from Grouse Feathers and More Grouse Feathers. In a chapter in Grouse Feathers regarding what it takes to make good grouse cover, Spiller wrote:

Of one thing, however, I am firmly convinced. Back of all the chaos which we call life, beyond the realms of unmeasurable and unfathomable space, in which millions of celestial bodies move with unfailing accuracy, there is some definite and perfect plan. You may call it what you will–coincidence–nature–God. Neither your opinion nor mine can alter a single sequence of it. It is inexorable. When its fitful shadow hovers malignantly close, we shudder at its harshness; and yet it is always just.

Whether fly-fishing or birdhunting, contact with nature definitely helps me to see and appreciate the order, the mysteries, and the miracles everywhere around us. At the very end of this same chapter, as he writes about the ruffed grouse’s love for apple buds and apples and caring for his own orchards, Spiller intentionally gives away his own belief on the source of this perfect order:

I prune and fertilize and spray. God, from His largess, gives the increase and, in His infinite wisdom knows, I hope, who gets the apples.

Amen, Brother!

Yellowstone Cutthroat“Even Solomon in all of his glory was not arrayed like unto one of these. “

Many of you who follow the blog may have read, “The French Brittany and the American Dream,” in which I wrote about how the breeding of the French Brittany stemmed from man’s innate desire to be free. In More Grouse Feathers, Spiller wrote something that goes along with this theme:

I believe it is the inalienable right of every boy to have a dog for his very own, and if he is to hunt with one later in life the early lessons he learns will be invaluable to him.

Truly, there is something special about the relationships that we share with our dogs, especially when we are together in the uplands. The line between master and servant becomes blurred and we become partners, even buddies in the mutual pursuit of happiness. It’s hard to explain, but sometimes commands become unnecessary and it’s almost like we can read each other’s minds. Maybe, it’s our spirits communicating. Indeed, as Spiller so aptly stated, every boy should, as a matter of right, have this unequaled opportunity. It will not only help him to better understand and appreciate the natural world around him, but also to become a better person.

After a successful blue grouse hunt, Sunny and I relax on the banks of an alpine lake.

I can definitely see why Burton Spiller was dubbed “the Poet Laureate of Grouse Hunting,” but his writing touches themes much deeper than birdhunting. I believe this is why his works have become timeless classics. Here’s to you Mr. Spiller.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Eric G says:

    Great Post! I’ve got to get some of those books!

  2. Andy:I first read Spiller’s grouse books over 35 years ago and they are as fresh today as then. I was surprised and delighted to read Tapply, Jr’s book “Upland Days” and find the stories about old Burt’.I hope you are able to pass on the love of those books to your children. They are a fine way to knit the generations of shooters together. Not to be substituted for the real thing, going out with Dad. That’s you!Walter

  3. Andy W. says:

    Eric and Walter, Thanks. No doubt about it, I will pass these things on to my kids. With the current political climate, it is more important now than ever to cherish and preserve our outdoor traditions. The future of our sport lies in the hands of our children. Andy

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