Sitting in the living room of his log home, a sleeping bird dog sprawled at his feet, V. Paul Reynolds looks like a man who enjoys spending time in the Maine woods.
And after more than 50 years tracking deer through the cedar swamps of the north woods, he surely has more than a few tales to tell.
After a two-year effort (and many decades of “fact-finding” in the Maine woods), those tales are available in book form.
The longtime newspaperman, who also spent a stint at the Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife and now edits an outdoor publication and hosts a weekly radio show about the outdoors, recently put some of those stories on paper, and Maine hunters will surely enjoy the end result.
His first book, “A Maine Deer Hunter’s Logbook, Tips, Tales and Tactics,” has just been released.
And readers won’t have to look very far to find some gems in its 105 pages.
“I set out to write about people that I’ve spent time in the deer woods with, at deer camps,” Reynolds said Sunday morning. “Really it’s about hunting, it’s about some of the things I’ve learned as a hunter for 50 years, but more than that, I think it’s about the relationships I’ve had with some great folks.”
“A Maine Deer Hunter’s Logbook” has enough tips to keep new hunters interested, and enough universal tales of friendship and camaraderie to appeal to those who’ve spent years and years in the woods.
If you’re looking for the best Maine deer gun, Reynolds has some ideas. If you want some tried-and-true venison recipes, you’re in luck. If you want to know how to make perfect mincemeat pie, the author says his recipe has been handed down through generations of his family, all the way from the 1500s.
And if you’ve always wanted to make authentic Maine baked beans, Reynolds is certain he can help.
“They are the best baked beans you will have ever tasted,” he said. “I’ve been playing around with my recipe for years, and I love baked beans. It’s one of my favorite dishes. And they’re good. Very good.”
Of course, that’s not all.
The book consists of 26 short chapters, and covers everything from scent and do-it-yourself tree stands to blunders of the hunt and tactics for hunting small woodlots.
The personal touch, however, is what sets the book apart as an authentic, enjoyable read by a true Maine woodsman.
If you’ve hunted with Reynolds, you’re probably in the book (though, in many cases, your true identity has been protected). And if you’ve spent much time in the woods, or at deer camps, Reynolds will tell stories that ring true.
Like the one about Cabin Fever B, that peculiar Maine affliction that deer hunters deal with when an overzealous buddy stokes the wood stove so high the camp’s temperature rises far beyond anyone’s definition of “cozy.”
“I’ve slept on many porches at hunting camps, I can tell you that,” Reynolds said with a laugh. “On log piles, just trying to get cool.”
In his half-century or more in the deer woods, Reynolds has paid close attention to details, but made plenty of mistakes. Through it all, he retained the ability to laugh at his own expense about the knowledge he gained the hard way.
The resulting good humor makes the book an enjoyable read.
And for hunters who have watched their spouses, sons or daughters grow into the sport, Reynolds’ prose will prove particularly poignant.
Seasons change. Years pass. And through it all, deer camp, and memories, remain.
“The chapter called ‘The Grumpy Old Men,’ [is] about myself and some of my contemporaries,” Reynolds said. “And times do change. Behavior changes. Your perspective changes. And now, not only do we have our second generation boys coming along — who aren’t boys any more — their youngsters are getting interested in the camp. So we’re at the point now, in my life, where we have a third generation of hunters coming up, and that’s an exciting thing.”
If you’re interested in getting your hands on a copy of Reynolds’ book, you can do so by sending a check for $14.95 to Maine Outdoor Publications, 300 Sawyer Road, Hampden, ME 04444.
Spencer book signings on tap
While we’re talking about outdoor literature, I’d like to remind you of a pair of signings by Grand Lake Stream guide and author Randy Spencer that are taking place this weekend.
On Saturday, Spencer will celebrate the publishing of his book “Where Cool Waters Flow: Four Seasons With a Master Maine Guide” during a launch party at the Pine Tree Store in Grand Lake Stream. Festivities begin at 11:30 a.m.
If you’re not willing to make the drive to Grand Lake Stream, wait a day, and you can visit with Spencer in Brewer.
Spencer will hold a book signing at an open house at Van Raymond Outfitters on South Main Street from noon until 4 p.m. on Sunday.
In addition to Spencer, Reynolds will be on hand, as will angler Bob Leeman, author of “Fly Fishing Maine — Rivers, Brooks and Streams.”
And if you want to talk about classic bamboo fly rods, you’ll have that chance, too: Steve Campbell, owner of the Thomas Rod Co., will also attend the open house.