‘On the Ridge: Stories From a New England Hunter’ by Joseph J. Judd

  • “On the Ridge: Stories from a New England Hunter” by Joseph J. Judd Contributed photo

For the Recorder
Published: 10/18/2019 7:13:09 PM
Modified: 10/18/2019 7:12:55 PM

I have a confession to make. For decades, now, I have avoided reading Joe Judd’s “On the Ridge” column. As most readers probably know, Judd’s musings on hunting have appeared in a number of local periodicals, most recently in this very newspaper. He has also hosted a program on Falls Cable TV.

I wasn’t trying to slight Judd, who lives in Shelburne and has always struck me as a good citizen and a colorful character. I merely thought that since I didn’t hunt, I would find little of interest in his writing.

Having finished his new book, a collection of essays titled “On the Ridge: Stories from a New England Hunter,” I must frankly admit that I was wrong. Judd’s essays about his adventures in the woods are of course aimed primarily at hunters. They will interest just about anyone who has an affinity for nature, however.

I asked Judd via email about the genesis of the book. He explained that he put it together to thank readers over the years for their encouragement. He added that he also wrote it for his family and desired in particular to leave something concrete to show his grandchildren that “this was a part of who their grandpa was.”

He noted that some of the essays are new and some are old, based on columns he has written over the years. He added that each older essay has been reworked for the book.

“All were written by me as a glimpse of my life as a hunter … as humble as it might be,” he told me.

Humility is indeed part of his writing in the book; he clearly has enormous awe and respect for nature and for the animals he observes and follows. An even more prominent characteristic of the book, however, is Judd’s exuberance.

Although he is a conversational writer rather than a deep one, he conveys the joy and enthusiasm he feels when he is out hunting as well as any writer I have come across.

He also shares the ways in which, over the years, hunting has cemented his ties not just to nature and its creatures, but also to other human beings. These include his family, his friends, and strangers who eventually became friends.

He traces his love of hunting to his father and grandfather, showing the ways in which as they taught him to hunt, they also taught him to be a better person. He also shares stories of taking his wife and children out with him in his quests for deer and turkey.

His essays illustrate the ways in which writing about people and animals (including a beloved hunting dog) can keep their memories alive long after they leave us.

“On the Ridge” can be moving and funny and sweet. It’s the kind of book I like to leave on the bedside table in my guest room to show visitors what life in the county is all about.

Tinky Weisblat is the award-winning author of “The Pudding Hollow Cookbook,” “Pulling Taffy,” and “Love, Laughter, and Rhubarb.” Visit her website, www.TinkyCooks.com.

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