“Soul of a Hunter” may be Wade Robertson’s first book, but it is not the first time he’s shared his philosophical take on hunting in the Twin Tiers.
Robertson has been sharing his thoughts with Olean Times Herald and Bradford Era readers through his outdoors columns since the 1970s.
Robertson has written for Fish & Game, Pennsylvania Game News and Pennsylvania Outdoor News, and he has just written two articles that are to appear in Fur-Fish-Game. He has also won numerous awards for his writing.
“People have always asked me to write a book,” says Robertson, who often hears from readers who enjoy his columns. “A lot of people who don’t even hunt like my columns.”
He will appear the evening of July 24 at the Olean Public Library for a book signing.
For “Soul of a Hunter,” Robertson went through his past articles and picked ones that he felt were appealing to the public.
“I named my book ‘Soul of a Hunter’ because hunting, I learned so much from my dad and my grandfather,” he explained.
For example, his father taught him how to read a map. From that he learned how to look at where he is going, how to make a plan and how to find a way out — life lessons that reach well beyond the act of hunting.
It’s not hard to see why one doesn’t have to hunt to enjoy Robertson’s hunting tales: his autobiographical stories are not stories just about hunting but stories about life.
While Robertson’s father preferred to be by himself, it was his grandfather who “introduced me to the social world of men.” This included lessons such as working hard, pulling his weight, being respectful to other people and just having manners in general.
Another story is about seeing a “big room” created by the overhang of hemlock trees one morning.
“It’s like a church,” he said.
In fact, spending time in nature is very spiritual for Robertson.
“You think about life. You think about death. You think about eternity,” he says. “You don’t just go out there and kill something. You’re out there on various levels,” such as the feeling of being free, the love of nature and excitement of the hunt.
Robertson believes hunting and fishing can help people in modern society to find the spirituality associated with a simpler life.
“As people get away from the farm and the realities of life, it’s nice to have altruistic ideas about life and death,” he said. “That’s all they are is ideas: they’re not grounded in reality. Hunting and fishing bring you right back to the basics.”
He added, “It’s hard not to believe in God when you’re out in the woods, especially at dawn.”
Robertson recalled his journey becoming a writer.
“I started writing poetry in high school,” he said, noting that he’s published poetry in small press in six different countries.
When he was younger, his writing submissions were never accepted. He started writing poetry, and he’d write 20 lines but feel only one of them showed what he really felt.
“I spent a lot of money on postage,” he joked, thinking about the times he was rejected.
Eventually, it clicked. He “understood that language is excellent at describing and instructing (topics such as) how to build a machine, how to build a car, but is inadequate for writing our feelings and our emotions.”
“You have to paint a picture to trigger the emotion. You can’t describe the emotion,” he said.
Luckily for Robertson, he has family with whom to share the experience.
Robertson is a cousin of local writer Bill Robertson, who just published his 40th book. The cousins are close, and Wade says they can be seen bouncing ideas off each other.
In fact, Bill Robertson helped him edit “Soul of a Hunter.”
“He’s as excited about my book as I am,” Wade says.