The Cricket Years

Bill Burkett
21 min readJan 18, 2024

I return as if in the dream of a young American duck-hunting prince…out there in the cold or the rain with my shotgun, wearing my royal duck-hunting robes…

— Elmira by Richard Brautigan

2013 — Without Sam (Cricket) Wampler, I might never have become a lifelong duck hunter. I was always going to write about Cricket, but never did. Half a century after we hunted together, it took a jolt of sorrow to send me to the keyboard.

Cricket Wampler is dead.

The news hit me hard.

When I began to consolidate my scraps of hunting notes in Nassau, it surprised me how a few one-liners in my old Southern Maid tablet, Neptune Beach, Florida, created such a cascade of images. Those first trips evidently had been etched in my memory.. Four lines in particular sparked a flood of images:

Cattle egret, first Game on Wing, 1958

Male Bobwhite Quail, trip to Lake City with Wamplers 1958

Two squirrels, Palm Valley with Cricket, Christmas Break 1959

Three coots, A1A borrow ponds with Sam Wampler, 1959

Cricket was my first hunting partner besides my brother Earl. Such a simple declarative sentence, to cover such a multitude of memories.

I stumbled across a eulogy on the Internet that described his mature years as some kind of South Florida spiritual guide for youngsters to the great outdoors. Sounded about like Cricket. We went our separate ways not long after we got drunk together our 1961 high school graduation night. He remains frozen in my teenage memory with his sardonic smile at my foibles, a Navy watch cap pushed back on his head and a shotgun cradled over the arm of his canvas hunting coat.

This was in North Florida, the beach towns east of Jacksonville. The first friend I made in the sixth grade when my family moved to Neptune Beach in 1954 was Jesse Coleman. Three years later, Jesse and I were hunting frogs for our ninth-grade biology project in a storm ditch on Jacksonville Beach. The ditch ran behind the Wampler home.

We weren’t having much luck with our long-handled crab nets when another flashlight came on up on the lip of the ditch, and Sam (Cricket) Wampler invented himself out of the darkness.

He was wearing the brown canvas hunting jacket and Navy watch cap that to me became his trademark look any time he wasn’t in school clothes. The sardonic grin that I came to know quite well flashed when he told Jesse that as long as we’d been at it, we should have a dozen bullfrogs. I remember the flare of my temper; I was enough of an unreconstructed Georgian to take easy offense. But Jesse just laughed at him and said show us how it’s done, then, which was all the invitation Cricket needed.

“We need a DuPont spinner,” Cricket said.

I had no idea what he was talking about. But Jesse knew Cricket’s tricks. “Oh no,” he said quickly. “We need ’em alive for our project.”

“They’ll be alive,” Cricket said. “Just stunned. Hold my flashlight.”

He searched along the ditch and selected a flat stone. From his coat pockets he produced a linty roll of electrical tape and a small dusty-looking red sphere: a cherry bomb. He taped the cherry bomb to the rock with quick deft movements, and led us to a culvert where a street ran above the ditch. Several pairs of eyes glowed up at us from the pool by the culvert.

“We’re gonna get in trouble, Cricket,” Jesse said nervously.

“Nah.”

Cricket produced a kitchen match and struck it against the rock. The instant the fuse caught, he kicked a cascade of pebbles over the side, and the glowing eyes winked out beneath spreading ripples in the black water. He tossed the fuming rock into the ripples. There was a muted whoomp. The damn ground shook.

“Jeez, Cricket,” Jesse said.

“Shh-hh! Look!”

Cricket played his flashlight on the roiling water. First one and finally three big bullfrogs popped to the surface, spread-eagled and floating. He grabbed my crab net, slipped into the ditch and was back in moments with the net full of limp frogs. By the time we got them into our specimen jar they were hopping against the lid.

“Three for three,” Cricket said smugly.

I was waiting for somebody from the close-by houses to come out and yell at us. “They’re all watching TV,” Cricket said dismissively. “Nobody noticed a thing. How many of these frogs do you need?”

And that began my Cricket years.

At fifteen, Cricket was already a seasoned hunter. To my amazement his father had been manager of the fabled Beacon 42 duck hunting camp before they moved to the Beaches. This was the same Beacon 42 that advertised duck hunting trips in Sports Afield and Field&Stream; it was like meeting a Hollywood celebrity.

The Wampler bungalow contained an Aladdin’s treasure of outdoor gear. Every wall of the living room was festooned with racked fishing rods, from surf rods to deep-sea gear. One small room, probably originally a third bedroom, was crammed with boots and folded tents and camp axes and fishing tackle. The closet held their long guns. On one of my first visits I was treated to the Southern ritual of the showing of the guns, one by one, to admire. It never occurred to me that Mr. Wampler was gauging my habits of care and safety in handling the guns. I had been handling firearms under the stern guidance of my grandfather since I was six years old. I guess it showed.

One afternoon not long thereafter, Mr. Wampler came to visit my grandmother. He had understood at once she was the true power about decisions concerning me. She was reluctant to let me go hunting, terrified of the frightful snake- and ‘gator-infested wilds of Florida, so different from the piedmont of her childhood. Mr. Wampler’s self-assigned mission was to put her mind at ease, because he had decided I would make a good hunting partner for his son. When he departed, I was astonished to learn he had persuaded her to let me go hunting with Cricket — that he would take responsibility for both of us. He told her that I was as careful with, and respectful of, firearms as his son; and that Cricket and I were as ready as we would ever be to venture forth on our own. It was time for the grownups to trust their own upbringing of us.

I was almost afraid to speak for fear of having the good news snatched away before it could come true. Before I could worry too much, it was 4:30 one morning and my grandmother was waking me up with homemade biscuits browning in the oven downstairs. At 5:30, the fuel oil truck Mr. Wampler was driving that winter for extra cash rumbled up Palm Place. He drove Sam and me, like young hunting princes sitting high above ordinary traffic, out to an overgrown timber track off San Pablo Road. All the merchantable Flatwoods pine had long since been timbered out. What remained were scrub pine, palmetto thickets and swampy hammocks of oak and cypress; there was no house around for miles in those long-gone days.

Sam had a single-barrel Stevens twelve gauge. He laughed at the clunky lines of my bolt-action J.C. Higgins. I was mildly irritated at his mockery, but nothing he said dented my pride at carrying my grandfather’s shotgun. We scouted the hammocks for squirrels as the day came up bright and still. If squirrels had been active, we would have heard them cutting acorns and seen tree limbs thrash. But there were only songbirds. Little by little the sharp anticipation of the day blunted.

By mid-morning we were at a rotted logging-road bridge that crossed a dark tidal cut from the Inland Waterway. Oaks swathed in Spanish moss lined the creek, and cypress snags were scattered through the dark water. We found a log for comfort and broke out our lunches. I had Spam sandwiches with mustard, wrapped in waxed paper, and a hard-boiled egg. All I remember of Sam’s meal was a big red apple that he chomped loudly. It was my first hunting lunch. Sitting on that log with my gun propped beside me I was as content as I had ever been. There were seagulls and cattle egrets and herons flying up and down the creek. Sam kept eyeing them. Finally he clamped his apple in his teeth and picked up his shotgun.

“Watch this,” he said. Boom. The cattle egrets flared apart, zigzagging between the oaks.

“Watch what?” I said.

He lowered his smoking gun and grabbed his apple. Chomp. “I suppose you can do better.”

How the heck did I know? I had only fired the shotgun once, so my grandfather could judge if I could handle twelve-gauge recoil. Two more egrets flew up the creek. I raised my gun. Something seemed to click behind my eyes — angle and flight path, swing through the beak…I hardly felt the kick. The sound of the shot seemed to rush away into open air, leaving only a light “pop” in my ears. The egret crumpled and plunged, smacking hard and raising a geyser of water.

“Jesus Christ,” Sam said, almost reverently. “You killed an egret!”

I looked at him blankly, still caught up in the miracle of the shot.

“You’re not supposed to kill egrets,” he said. “Jesus Christ, I hope the game warden’s not around!”

“But you shot!” I said.

“Yeah but I didn’t hit anything! Jesus Christ I never thought you could really hit one!”

The bird was floating away toward San Pablo Road and ultimately the Waterway. “Can we get to the road and pick him up at the culvert?” I said.

“Are you crazy? Pick him up? Be caught with the evidence? My dad would kill me! Let alone the game warden.”

I wanted to field-dress that egret and take it home to my grandmother. She floured and fried the first squirrel I killed; it tasted better than chicken. She deep-fried dozens of whiting I caught out of the surf two doors from our house as well as stranded mullet I captured with a long-handled crab net in beach sloughs at low tide. The family fed for a week on stacks of crabs she boiled and deviled after Earl and I filled half a garbage can with them out of those sloughs on a dead-low tide. In those cash-poor days, I was very proud of putting food on the table. I wanted that bird. But my grandmother would be horrified if I was arrested. My hunting days would be over before they started.

“Let’s go,” Cricket said. “If we run into anybody, we were never down here, okay? We stayed in those oaks hunting squirrels. That’s what we tell my dad, too. Okay?”

So now I was in a conspiracy to lie to grownups — particularly to the grownup that had opened the outdoors by taking a chance on me. Just great. More than anything I resented not being able to tell anyone that my very first shot at a flying bird had gone true…

The night Cricket and his dad performed the old Southern ritual of showing me their firearms, his dad exhibited a sly sense of humor at my expense. The final gun he presented for my inspection was a trim little .410, a Winchester Model 42.

“You haven’t been in Florida long enough to know how badly humidity can warp a gun stock,” Cricket’s dad told me. “Look at this.”

The high-grade walnut stock, though glowingly polished, was severely bent.

I suppose the look on my face was priceless, because father and son had a good laugh. Then Sam’s dad told me to shoulder the gun and look along the rib. Holding it right handed, I was looking along the rib with my left eye. The sensation was — odd, to put it mildly. I didn’t know what to think.

Mr. Wampler explained that it was a custom stock, designed for him after he injured his right eye so badly he couldn’t focus on flying birds any more. He’d jabbed a broken-off corn stem into the eye while hunting pheasants in Ohio — which sounded painful as the devil. But I was distracted by the concept of pheasants in an Ohio corn field. Such a hunt seemed exotic as a safari.

He said he wasn’t about to give up shooting, so he had the little Winchester modified with this custom-bent stock to permit use of his left eye. He chose the .410 to minimize recoil against his face. He had two full sets of fore-ends for the gun, one with an open-choke barrel for quail and another with a modified barrel for ducks. Even in the 1950s, all that customization must have cost a pretty penny.

Talk about paradigm shifts! I would have had no idea what the term meant then. But without knowing how I knew, I understood that my life had just divided into the time before I held that Model 42, and all the time that was to come.

You grow up in a family of the working poor; you don’t think anything of it, it’s just the way you grow up. Your mother is divorced and working six twelve-hour waitress shifts for $20 a week plus tips; she’s never had a decent-paying job since the war ended and they laid off arsenal personnel where she stitched tank and artillery covers.

Your grandmother looks after you and your brother while your mother works. Your grandfather retires from the fire department, which was the first decent job he ever had, and goes right back to work as a structural fireman at a nuclear heavy-water facility until he sells the family home and you all move to Florida. He never talks about hunting or fishing or any kind of recreation at all when he was younger; a terse diary that he began as an able-bodied seaman in the coal-burning days carried over into endless weeks of temporary cotton-mill jobs, being “sent out” and searching among the mills for more work well before the official Depression.

After the Depression, he was a hoarder, shopping grocery-store coupon sales obsessively and building storage cabinets to hold the supplies, though he had his retirement and the money from the house sale. Then the uninsured manager of the fireman’s credit union absconds with all the money my grandfather and other firemen had put aside, not trusting banks. (And why would they, after the Depression?)

That was the year my Christmas present was one carton of six six-ounce bottles of Coca Cola. I asked my high school homeroom teacher if I could have the homeroom Christmas tree when the holiday break came, because I was pretty sure we wouldn’t have a tree otherwise. (My grandmother was furious with me; the code of the working poor is to never ask for a handout — not even a second-hand Christmas tree.)

My grandfather’s retirement checks kept coming from the city, together with house payments from the doctor who bought the Georgia house, and we bounced off rock bottom and slipped back into the normal drudgery of the working poor. The following year, Mr. Wampler handed me his Winchester Model 42 to admire.

The notion of having a special shotgun built because he wasn’t about to give up bird hunting was stunning to me. The Wamplers weren’t wealthy, but they didn’t let that interfere with their enjoyment of life. Mrs. Wampler had trained for the Consular Service and spoke French better than my high school French teacher. I never forgot her warning that when — not if — I got to France the “C” on the water faucet stood for “chaud,” so be careful I didn’t scald myself. Far more practical advice than my French teacher ever gave me.

I’ve never seen another gun stocked like that Model 42.

I was never the same after I saw it. I never forgot the lesson: come hell or chaud water, you can keep shooting, some way or other, if it is important enough to you.

Almost before I could realize it, I was off on my first road trip to a distant hunting destination with Cricket, his dad and an adult friend of theirs. We were headed for a quail hunt near Lake City in the friend’s sleek 1956 Cadillac, which he drove as if there were no such things as speed limits. His English pointer, Buck, shared the back seat with Cricket and me.

We were blowing down one of those old two-lane truck routes that preceded Interstates when we passed a Florida State trooper going the other way. Looking back, I could see the tail of the cruiser fishtail, and smoke break from under the tires, as he jammed on the brakes to turn on us.

“Ain’t got time to mess with him,” said the driver, and really put his foot down. For the first time in my life I was in a car going over a hundred miles an hour. That Caddy wasn’t even straining.

“Suppose he might radio ahead?” Cricket’s dad said quietly.

“Not a chance. They got lousy radio reception out through here. We’ll be shooting quail before he ever catches up. Probably won’t even try.”

We never saw that Highway Patrol car again.

The plan was to drop Cricket and me off in some squirrel woods for the morning, while the grownups worked nearby fields with Buck. Buck’s owner carried a Remington 11–48 auto, and several times that morning we heard him shoot — bambambam — and the light pop of Mr. Wampler’s custom-built .410. We didn’t find any squirrels — again. I was despondent. Maybe I was jinxing the hunt. Cricket was getting bored. We circled a small depression in the woods that held a shallow pond — and heard something rustling in the underbrush on the far side of the pond.

A small black piglet came snuffling out of the brush to bury its snout in the water.

“Let’s get him!” Cricket said, leaning his gun against a stump. And he was off and running. I put my gun down and followed more slowly. In less time than it takes to tell, he had dived on the little pig and pinned it with his hands, laughing like a loon.

And that little fellow began to squeal the woods down.

Cricket only laughed louder. He kept yelling to come help him hold it. But I heard another sound — a deep, guttural sort of grunt that raised my hackles. I turned and ran for my shotgun with only a peripheral glimpse of a large black shape trampling through the brush toward my unwitting clown of a friend.

“Let him go!” I yelled. “Here comes Mama!”

By the time I had my gun, Cricket had turned loose. The piglet made a beeline for Mama as I swung up my gun. The big hog stopped on a dime to snuffle her offspring. Cricket was left on hands and knees, staring at 300 pounds of trouble. If it moved a step closer, I was going to shoot it in the face — I figured squirrel shot would at least distract it enough for Cricket to escape.

The piglet scooted out of sight. We all watched it go. Then the big hog looked back at Cricket. It looked for all the world as if torn between herding its offspring to safety and charging the troublemaker. I held my bead. After what seemed a very long time, the big hog let out one more ferocious snort and spun away, crashing through the brush like a tank.

Cricket came back brushing himself off and still laughing. “Did you see that?” he said.

“You’re out of your damned mind!” I said.

Which set off another gale of laughter.

The rest of the morning was thankfully uneventful. The grownups picked us up for lunch, which we ate at a picnic table beside an old abandoned gas station. Buck’s owner fed him slices of apple; I’d never seen a dog eat apples before. Then he poured half his bottle of beer into his Thermos cap, and Buck lapped that right up.

“He always finds birds better after he’s had his midday beer,” Buck’s owner said.

Buck did find a lot of birds that afternoon. Mr. Wampler deferred to Cricket and me, letting each of us take turns walking in with the owner on coveys frozen under Buck’s nose. On my first covey rise, quail buzzing in every direction like giant bumblebees, the owner shot three birds so fast it seemed all three were hanging in the air at the same time. I barely got my gun up.

“Gotta be quicker than that, on bobwhites,” he said.

I nodded. It seemed a miracle, but here I was actually hunting bobwhite quail behind a pointing dog, just like those stories in the hunting magazines by Havilah Babcock. I think Professor Babcock would have liked Buck.

On my second covey rise, I was ready. My bird fell away from a cloud of feathers while Buck’s owner whanged away at the others. I didn’t even try to chamber a second round, just stood watching the feathers float. When Buck brought my bird in, he brought it straight to me and deposited it gently in my hand.

“I’ll be damned,” his owner said. “It’s like Buck knows it’s your first quail.”

For me the rest of the day was a happy blur, capped with a long snooze in the back seat on the way home to the rumble of adult voices up front, a lulling counterpoint to the big Cadillac’s powerful hum. I don’t think any fifteen-year-old on Earth could have been happier.

It was the next year before I went hunting again with Cricket. When Christmas Holidays rolled around, we took his rattletrap 1951 Studebaker to the Palm Valley oak woods south of Ponte Vedra. We shot two big gray squirrels apiece.

But the thing that stands starkly in my memory is my first encounter with ducks in the wild. We were standing in a clearing when a big flight of ducks swooshed over, so close their wing beats were loud in the hush of the squirrel woods.

“Ducks!” Cricket shouted, so surprised he didn’t even raise his gun.

I got off one shot — I had gunfighter reflexes at age sixteen — but I missed. My pulse was hammering; it was the first time I ever had a chance at ducks.

Cricket recovered his equilibrium first, like the seasoned woodsman he was. Okay, he said professionally — those were wood ducks. We’re under a wood duck flyway. More will be here any minute. We need to hide.

He positioned me near a tree trunk on the edge of the clearing, and moved off a ways. We waited. And waited. My eyes seemed to be starting out of my head like some cartoon character, trying to invent more ducks above the clearing. There! Over the far trees I saw wings. But as they cleared the oaks they veered left and I lost them. Then another flock came right behind that one. Again, they arced out of sight instead of crossing the clearing. There were more behind that bunch, and they did the same thing. What the…?

Cricket came stomping back. “Something’s spooking them…” he broke off and started cussing me out.

He hadn’t told me to hide behind the tree, I said.

Any idiot should have known that, he spluttered.

I had been standing in plain view so I could see to shoot, wearing my dove-gray school coat — only warm coat I owned — and my grandfather’s maroon corduroy fedora. Cricket proceeded to give me my first duck-hunting lesson, at the top of his voice, about the superior eyesight of waterfowl. I must have looked crestfallen as I felt.

Finally he took pity on me and said if I wanted another chance at ducks we could try the borrow ponds down along Highway A1A. Then he had to explain what a borrow pond was. The day before Christmas Eve we sneaked the A1A borrow ponds for the first time, jumped some birds — and I killed my first coot. It wasn’t a duck, but at least it was legal waterfowl. It lay at the far edge of the pond, against what looked like mud.

“You shot it, you gotta go get it,” Cricket said.

I waded gingerly into the pond. It kept getting deeper and deeper. The water was icy on my dungaree-clad legs. Then it was painfully cold in my crotch. Surely the pond shallowed off as it approached the mud where the bird lay. I took a giant step closer —

And no, the water didn’t get shallow. It got deeper.

I went all the way under so fast that my fedora floated off before I could grab the coot, then my hat, and thrash back to belly deep water. What I thought was mud was beach blow sand, caught on a mass of lily pads. I clapped my sodden hat on my head — and a wash of red corduroy dye flowed over my face and into my eyes. It took a moment, through the pounding of my pulse, to identify what I heard:

Cricket was literally rolling on the bank, laughing like a maniac.

I poured water out of the muzzle of my gun and looked him over. I wasn’t really going to put birdshot in his ass. But I can’t say the thought didn’t cross my mind.

“Hey, you got the bird,” he choked out. “That’s the important thing!”

We jumped the ponds several more times that winter holiday, settling for coots when there were no ducks. When the birds jumped, I could get off two shots with my bolt-action to three by Cricket with his pump gun. Once we picked up five birds total after the flush — but not before I had another adventure.

That time I waded the flooded timber clear around the pond to avoid another whole-body baptism. I had resigned myself to getting wet hunting waterfowl with Cricket. Up to the third button on my flannel shirt back in there, with my shell belt left ashore to keep the paper shot shells dry, I spotted a water moccasin about twenty yards from me, sunning atop the water.

That damn snake was almost as long as I was tall and thick around as my thigh.

I was literally afraid to shoot.

I was afraid three 12-gauge shells would only make the monster mad.

I waded backwards slowly, pointing my gun in case it should decide to charge, until I realized I could back into another one — not a happy thought. When I got back to dry sand, I was babbling slightly. Cricket flashed that sardonic grin of his. Said if a mere snake got me so exercised, he was glad he forgot to tell me that the last time he came down here by himself, a ‘gator had surfaced and grabbed two of his coots…These were not stories that I shared with my grandmother.

The next season we haunted those Palm Valley swamps. Cricket liked to use different shotguns from his dad’s Diamond Sport Shop. Once he used the first three-inch magnum I had ever seen. He knocked down a high-flying wood duck that fell quite a ways off. The swamp there was only knee-deep but as we waded to get it, I stepped on a God-damned water moccasin that immediately slammed into my shin and wrapped itself around my leg.

Fortunately I was wearing waders that day and its fangs skidded off the rubber. It wasn’t nearly the size of the monster that frightened me, but acted like it was trying to pull me down. I kicked it across the marsh in a welter of spray. When I followed up with blood in my eye, it had gone elsewhere.

Another time, wading through flooded timber back to the highway after dark and without flashlights, we heard the crackle of a short-wave radio on A1A; it was the damn game warden, parked behind Cricket’s Studebaker.

We plainly heard him tell his dispatch he’d heard shooting after hours and it must have been whoever had this car. We were outraged at the slander — particularly since Palm Valley rednecks all believed this warden and his son had filled their own freezer with over-limit piles of wood ducks; it was a scandalous rumor we were more than ready to believe. Never trust a corrupt government man was our teenage motto. So we quietly waded away into the dark and found a dry place to perch until he got tired of waiting and told dispatch he was going home; the Studebaker must be an abandoned breakdown.

Cricket didn’t like my expressing gratitude that he drove such a piece of crap it was an easy mistake for the warden to make.

That Studebaker was the first car that ever smelled like baking bread when tall savanna grass cooked on the radiator as we made our own road through the wilds. We almost drove up on a working moonshine still that day, and beat a hasty retreat when cooking mash overpowered the bakery smell.

The only waders I had then was an $11 stocking-footed pair my mother bought me when I was fourteen. At sixteen they reached only to my sternum and my feet had grown tremendously. I had to cut off the rubber toes and jam my feet in size-13 Keds to use them. The water seeped in to about knee level before pressure equalized and held it there. The water would warm up some; poor man’s version of a wet suit.

Cricket and Ken Willis, another high-school chum, had heavy-duty boot-foot waders that reached their armpits. The ducks we stalked always seemed to rest in pockets twenty or thirty yards past where I had to stop wading or be swamped. I would stand and listen to Cricket and Ken blam away, and then admire their ducks. I gritted my teeth a lot.

I didn’t kill my first duck until Ken and I waded into a couple of ponds and deployed six of those shabby inflatable Deeks decoys. By then I was shooting the sixteen-gauge Model 12 I bought used from Cricket’s dad. The wood ducks flew heavily that morning. When the shooting was over I had 18 empties floating on the waist-deep water amid a fall of feathers from near misses — and no ducks. An open-choke Improved Cylinder was not ideal for pass-shooting. We went back that afternoon after I bought some loose shells at a nickel apiece from the hardware store. My first two shots finally brought down a ringneck, my first duck.

It was the last day of the season.

The last time I hunted with Cricket was the following September on the first flood tide of marsh hen season. Ray Headen, Cricket and I took a rowboat into flooded saw grass on the Intra Coastal Waterway and bailed into the water in jeans and tennis shoes to jump-shoot ‘hens. The shooting was fast and furious. We each killed four or five ‘hens, plus — in a kind of ironical twist — one egret.

When we cleaned the birds, we cut five or six inches off the egret’s neck and skinned it with the rest of the birds. Ray took it home with his share of the bag. He later reported that his dad — a deputy sheriff whose garage held a lifetime’s supply of sugar confiscated from moonshiners — said the big ‘hen was the best he ever tasted…

Somehow it was 1960. Our senior year in high school had sneaked up on us. Cricket had gone from the Studebaker to a hotrod Ford to an almost new Plymouth, which he used to pursue his new interest: girls. Somehow another hunting trip with him never materialized. I was disappointed — how could girls compare to hunting? But he had introduced me to duck hunting, and I was hooked.

Duck hunting! God damn amighty! Despite reptiles, lurking game wardens, and open-toed waders, everything else seemed to pale in comparison. I was on my way to a lifetime passion. Thanks to Cricket and his dad.

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Bill Burkett

Professional writer, Pacific Northwest. 20 Books: “Sleeping Planet” 1964 to “Venus Mons Iliad” 2018–19. Most on Amazon for sale. Il faut d’abord durer.