Stories of sportsmen past come to life in History Afield, an account of the many and varied sporting pursuits that are part of the Wisconsin tradition. Author and outdoorsman Robert Willging shares more than two dozen tales of Wisconsin sporting history, highlighting the hunt for waterfowl, upland birds, and deer; trout fishing in wild north Wisconsin rivers; and recreating at early Wisconsin lakeside resorts. Anecdotes of fishing exploits on our plentiful waterways and presidential visits to northern Wisconsin reveal a unique slice of sporting culture, and chapters on live decoys and the American Water Spaniel demonstrate the human-animal bond that has played such a large part in that history. Tales of nature’s fury include a detailed account of the famous Armistice Day storm, as well as the dangers of ice fishing on Lake Superior. These historical musings and perspectives on sporting ethos provide a strong sense of the lifestyle that Willging has preserved for our new century. Featuring first-hand interviews and a variety of historic photos depicting the Wisconsin sporting life, History Afield shows how the intimate relationship between humans and nature shaped this important part of the state’s heritage.
About the Author
Robert C. Willging is a freelance outdoor and history writer whose work has appeared in Deer & Deer Hunting, The Boundary Waters Journal, Wisconsin Outdoor Journal, Wisconsin Natural Resources, High Country News,Turkey Call, WildBird, The Trapper & Predator Caller, Fur-Fish-Game, Wisconsin Magazine of History, and other publications. His first book, On the Hunt: The History of Deer Hunting in Wisconsin was published by The Wisconsin Historical Society Press in 2008. Willging holds a bachelor’s degree in wildlife management from the University of Wisconsin—Stevens Point and a master’s degree in wildlife sciences from New Mexico State University; he’s worked as a wildlife biologist for the U. S. Department of Agriculture since 1987. An ardent sportsman, Willging frequently writes about Wisconsin’s rich sporting past. He lives in Rhinelander with his wife and two children.
“History runs deep in northern Wisconsin, and Willging has carefully chosen a cross-section of stories that have tremendous appeal. Sad to say, the state’s sporting past has long been neglected or taken for granted, but Willging brings together evocative stories from past generations, firmly connecting the reader to northern Wisconsin’s rich sporting heritage.” (Brad Larson, director, Oshkosh Public Museum)
“Willging gives readers a personal glimpse of Wisconsin’s outdoors heritage by putting us alongside our forebears as they slap mosquitoes, row for safe harbors, scramble onto solid ice, or risk their family’s savings on resorts, bait shops, and other dreams. After mining historical records and his personal interviews for detailed insights and dormant secrets, Willging trusts his storytelling skills to bring bygone people and their times back to life without embellishment.” (Patrick Durkin, columnist for the Wisconsin State Journal and Wisconsin Outdoor News)
“In History Afield, Willging revives some familiar tales and unearths a few surprises as well, in a vivid style that brings the past to life.” (Dan Small, Host/Producer of Outdoor Wisconsin and Outdoors Radio)
2011 Winner in the Recreation/Sports Category from the Midwest Independent Publishers Association