I’ve set many hooks; I’ve fly-fished in beautiful places; I even own a nice fly rod, which I’ve never actually used; but I’m no fisherman. I wanted a copy of Bill Rooney’s book, Fishing For God—and Vice Versa, to review because he’s a former Managing Editor of American Hunter, and even today contributes fine prose to this magazine. So I am obliged to him and to readers. Besides, despite the title the book promises hunting tales.
When I cracked open the book, one of the first things I read was: “Why, in a variety of special spots … why do I feel so … utterly peaceful? So apart and yet so much a part of everything that’s important in life? So totally … loved?” I was sitting in a Blue Ridge treestand on a Sunday morning. Water, woods—no matter the medium: Clearly, a fisher like Rooney who finds his connection to God in piscatorial pursuit has much to say to hunters.
Many Christians will recognize this book as Rooney’s “witness”: his testimony of God’s deliverance of a life full of love and lovely things found in places He created. But it’s more than that. It’s a wonderful collection of adventurous tales that inspire thought regarding our pursuit of peace in the wild world.
Throughout the work, Rooney’s prose is on full display, in places like Chapter 5, “Hunting For God,” when he describes finding a fine perch in the deer woods and how, when “the celestial show in the west began to fade,” he shifted his weight so he could “drink in dawn’s mauve and blue and yellow and cerise.” Such thoughts cannot be conjured in a vacuum. They must be absorbed in the sanctuary of the natural world so they may be penned later, and remembered forever. Another hunting season has closed. Maybe it’s time I broke out my fly rod.