Books | October 2016
With a lifetime of experience and more than 50 published books of both poetry and prose, Archibald Rutledge is truly a legend in the world of Southern sporting. His work is well known for bridging the divide between fact and fiction and it is in his mastery of literature, not just his skill as an outdoorsman, that we truly see what a dimensional talent he possessed.
The newly released Bird Dog Days Wingshooting Ways: Archibald Rutledge’s Tales of Upland Hunting was originally published in 1998 and showcases the author’s writings on upland bird hunting as well as hunting dogs. These are themes that Rutledge understood with a depth and intimacy that few others can claim. The book is edited by Jim Casada, who has also spent a lifetime writing on the subject of the great outdoors. He is no stranger to the subject of Rutledge either, with four of his eighteen anthologies featuring the legendary writer and outdoorsman.
The collection includes “The Odyssey of Bolio,” which is one of his well-loved fictional pieces. It is set in the beautiful North Carolina high country and highlights the author’s ability to craft captivating fiction around the world of sporting and hunting dogs. “He was in many ways a master of the twice-told tale, and any careful perusal of his books will find repeat encounters with majestic bucks or memorable turkeys,” Casada writes. “The Odyssey of Bolio” is no exception to this and as Casada says, is “an excellent example of Rutledge’s skills in the genre of fiction.” He also points out that it “must rank as one of Rutledge’s finest fictional treatments of dogs.”
Other stories included in this volume are “My Most Memorable Dog,” “The Friend of Man,” and “Dog or No Dog,” among many others. Casada counts his devotion to the stories and works of Archibald Rutledge as a “labor of love” and writes that the publication of this most recent collection is “a testament to Archibald Rutledge’s enduring popularity among those who cherish fine writing on the wild world.”
Casada has taken great pains in being thorough with the information presented about Rutledge’s career in these pages. For example, the place where each piece of the writer’s work originally appeared are given in this book. It should also be noted that many of the author’s books are now out of print, making this collection all the more meaningful for those with an appreciation of Rutledge’s work.
Named a “staunch son of the Southland” by Casada in the introduction, Rutledge is truly an icon for lovers of the sport and writers of the Southern way, alike. His work recounts tirelessly the joys of immersing oneself in the grandeur of the outdoor world. “From an early stage he knew a oneness with the land that few, even those who hunt, are privileged to experience,” Casada writes. It speaks to his importance in the world of literature that Rutledge held the position of South Carolina’s Poet Laureate for an impressive 33 years. He also earned many honorary degrees and prestigious prizes for his beloved writings.
This volume is an important work for those interested in Southern heritage, as well as for sporting enthusiasts. Casada continues to work on making Archibald Rutledge accessible for current and future generations and is now in the process of writing a biography of this regional legend. Casada has won more than 170 excellence-in-craft awards from both regional and national organizations alike. He has written more than 5,000 magazine and newspaper articles.
From iconic Southern outdoorsman and legendary sporting writer Archibald Rutledge comes this expanded collection that draws together his intimate stories on the Southern heartland
Review by Shana Raley-Lusk