- By Written and illustrated by D.J. Watkins-Pitchford ('BB')
Everyone to whom I have recommended this book loved it. In Wild Lone: The Story of a Pytchley Fox, the reader experiences the sights and sounds of the woodlands by day, and the silence and stealth of the forest by night—not from our usual vantage point in the saddle, five or six feet above the ground, but down low, nearer the earth, where dry stalks of grass brush past our ears and our noses inhale the musky scent of decaying leaves.
Because the reader becomes acquainted with Rufus when he is whelped and gets to know him and his habits intimately, we feel his pain when he becomes caught in the wire snare and we root for him when pushed by foxhounds. We care about him deeply, because we know and respect him. Yet Rufus is an opportunist and kills whenever he can—birds, mice, hedgehogs, rabbits, chickens. He kills so often and so casually that we hardly notice. We feel nothing for these creatures—his quarry—because they are, unlike Rufus, anonymous.
The book’s message is revealed to us by a consummate woodsman: that life and death happen to every creature in the forest, mostly shortly after birth. Nature is harsh, but that is its way. And the pressure put on each species serves to improve the species, for only the best examples (and the luckiest) survive for a fulfilling time—as does Rufus.
The following excerpt, in which the author exercises his full powers of language and imagery, is quite lyrical. Yet, if an adventure story is what you prefer, I promise you won’t be disappointed by Wild Lone.