What is a summary of A Listening Walk--and Other Stories by Gene Hill?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Gene Hill's A Listening Walk is an anthology of pieces he wrote for Field & Stream, a hunting, fishing, and survival magazine. In all 58 of his pieces, Hill captures his passion for hunting, fishing, and the great outdoors.

His style across all 58 of his works varies greatly, and his works include among them a poem titled "Once a Salmon Sang to Me," consisting of 14 rhyming couplets spoken in the voice of a salmon as the salmon gives fishing advice. The heart of the poem captures the true difficulty of reeling in a salmon. The salmon even notes that fishermen aid the environment by "cleaning up the waters where we travel back to spawn" (p. 4). In his subsequent essay "It's Not Just Fishing, It's Fate," he praises the complexities of nature, especially the Atlantic Salmon's ability to migrate from "Canada's Gaspé Peninsula across the north Atlantic" and all the other complexities that make up the life of a salmon, but the majority of the article is spent again waxing poetic about the difficulty and improbability of ever reeling in a salmon.

One of his main points in his pieces is to refute the belief that hunting is cruel and destroys nature. In his mind, since hunting is so difficult, as long as the hunter has a deep respect for nature, hunting is not cruel. In fact, in his mind, hunters do so much for wildlife conservation that hunters are the true environmentalists. In his article, "No, I have Not Thanked A Green Planet Today--I've Been Busy," he spells out the number of conservation organizations he participates in and contributes to, including Ducks Unlimited, Trout Unlimited, and the International Federation of Fly Fishers. He further notes that he is conservative with nature by releasing "almost all the fish" he catches and by trying "not to shoot [his] limit on waterfowl," which is very easy to do considering that waterfowl are so difficult to shoot (pp. 5-6).

In other articles, he describes his love of collecting and caring for hunting equipment and wishes for times past when game was far more abundant. His most profound point is that man can actually learn humility through hunting, because it gives man a chance to see his smallness in comparison to the vastness of nature.

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