Deer Diaries

What would you say is one of the traits you most admire or appreciate in your fellow man?

For me, this is an easy question. A person who truly, genuinely does not take himself too seriously, a person who can laugh at himself and his own foibles or shortcomings is as rare as he is special. Of course, it is our nature, our prideful, hubris-laden ways that lead many of us — myself included — to take life and ourselves way more seriously than we should.

Perhaps this is why I so admire John Ford, retired Maine game warden, author, artist and self-made humorist. To the everlasting delight of so many who read his monthly column in the Northwoods Sporting Journal, or have read his first two books, “Suddenly, the Cider Didn’t Taste So Good” and “This Cider Still Tastes Funny,” Ford has honed the art of self-deprecation to a fine edge. The man knows how to laugh at himself with a good-natured innocence, and do it without losing his dignity or taking away from the dignity of others.

Ford’s third book, “Deer Diaries,” published by North Country Press, is just off the press and beginning to catch fire like the others. The book is $16.95 and is available at book stores everywhere.

Ford’s neighbor and friend, former Maine state librarian Linda Lord, hit the proverbial nail when she writes in the book’s back cover, “His books are laugh-out-loud funny, touching, surprising and make for great reading.”

For Ford, it was a stroke of luck or pure genius that he kept a journal or diary of the most memorable days from his 20-year career as a Maine game warden. Since he claims to have only made short memory-jogging entries in his warden diary over the years, it’s clear that the capacity to laugh at himself is only one of his remarkable traits. He is also blessed, obviously, with some remarkable powers of recollection, which underpin the authenticity and detail that make his story-telling so homespun and engaging.

“Deer Diaries,” from start to finish, is kind of a vicarious, front-seat peek at the sometimes outlandish and always unpredictable ups and downs of conservation law enforcement.

Three of the funniest chapters just happen to be in sequence: “The Flying Hairball,” “You Damned Peeping Tom, You” and “Where to, Sir?”

During his rookie years as a warden, Ford was mentored by District Warden Norm Gilbert. Ford’s account of his working relationship with his new boss and seatmate on all-night stakeouts for night hunters is about as hilarious as it gets.

As with all of Ford’s storytelling, there is a thread of guileless optimism — a faith in humanity — that shines through each and every chapter of “Deer Diaries.”

It will make you laugh out loud, as it did me, and I suspect that before you are finished you will have made a new friend in John Ford from Brooks.


 The author is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. He is also a Maine Guide and co-host of a weekly radio program, “Maine Outdoors.” His email address is [email protected] He has two books, “A Maine Deer Hunter’s Logbook” and his latest, “Backtrack.”




V. Paul Reynolds

Columnist at Ellsworth American
The author is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. His email address is [email protected]

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