PHOTO GALLERY | Bedford’s ‘Historically Significant’ Book of Grouse Chosen for State Library Rare Collections | News
Tim Flanigan’s book “Grouse & Woodcock: The Birds of My Life” has been placed in the Rare Collections section of the State Library of Pennsylvania.
On November 30, a leather-bound governor’s edition of the Bedford Pennsylvania Game Commission Retired Wildlife Conservation Officer book was accepted into the Special Section.
Published in March 2020 by Wild River Press, the book is the culmination of 65 years of Flanigan’s hunting, photography, study and writing on the ruffed grouse and woodcock.
âThe book was prepared specifically for the governor because we are the only state that honors the ruffed grouse,â Flanigan said.
And 2021 is the 90th anniversary of the ruffed grouse’s selection as a state bird.
âThe reason they accepted it is that there is so much history about the ruffed grouse’s connection to Pennsylvania,â Flanigan said. “They said it was historically important.”
No one will ever touch the special leather-bound edition, as the books in the Rare Collections section are reserved for posterity, he said.
âIt is a very unique and distinct honor to have one in this rare collection,â said Flanigan. “It’s not something that happens with every book or every writer.”
Another copy will be made available to the library for public use.
There are two editions of the book: standard hardcover fabric editions and 100 limited edition leather bound editions.
âAnd the Governor’s Edition is actually 101,â he said.
“A life of work”
Flanigan pointed out that the book is not about him or his personal experiences. After leading lectures and seminars for years, a colleague encouraged him to share his knowledge, experiences and photos in book form.
âIt’s a lifetime of work,â he said. “The more you know about something, the more you care.”
Flanigan shared this wisdom in a 400-page book with 40 chapters that cover everything from biology, history and habitat to wing shooting, dog training and photography. The collection is full of extremely crisp, close-up photos of ruffed grouse and woodcock.
His intention was to create a book that could be enjoyed by anyone – bird watchers, bird watchers, and especially highland game hunters.
âThis book is written for you, the reader,â said Flanigan. “If you use all this knowledge about their natural history, you can then apply it and put more birds in your bag, and that not only encourages you to be a better hunter, but also allows you to appreciate the uniqueness of. these wonderfully wild and elusive birds.
There are eight whole chapters devoted to increasing your chances as a hunter.
âFor me, I think the hunter knows more about grouse and woodcock than most birders because we’re out there with them,â he said.
“I learned a lot more”
Perhaps one of the most important parts of the book is how to identify safe habitat for both species. The book is very specific not only on how to spot this blanket, but also on when to best use it to your advantage.
âIt changes from October through November through December,â Flanigan said. âThey move around in their habitat. If you understand this, this is really the key.
Flanigan has spent thousands of hours photographing grouse and woodcock, and has had very rare opportunities to share his personal space. Several times he was in photo blinds or crawled on all fours through brambles and thickets of hawthorn.
âTo be completely honest, I learned a lot more about them by photographing them than by killing them,â he said.
He remembers a time when he was extremely close to a woodcock trying to pull a worm out of the ground: in their personal space. There is nothing like it.
His dedication to his profession is revealed in the dozens of intimate photos that adorn the pages of the book.
âThey like not to be seen,â he said of the grouse, âexcept in the springâ.
This time of year has always been very productive for photos of males strutting and drumming on logs while trying to attract females. Knowing which log to wait next to is a job in itself.
‘Love letter to the grouse’
Wild River Press chose “Grouse & Woodcock: The Birds of My Life” as one of their “Top 10 Books of the Year” in 2020, and it continued to be their bestseller in 2021.
âI think this might be their all-time bestseller,â Flanigan said.
The book was also nominated in three categories in the Independent Book Publishers Association’s awards program, but did not win due to its hunting content. Nonetheless, Flanigan received favorable comments from the jury: âYou don’t have to know anything about the grouse or the woodcock to be totally captivated by this book.
“This book has the steak and the sizzle, but it’s a love letter to the grouse and woodcock.”
Flanigan said he was touched by a review by Thomas Carney, editor of Upland Almanac magazine, who compared the book to the University of Minnesota professor and world-renowned ruffed grouse expert, “Grouse of the North Shore âby Gordon Gullion, which is considered to be the Bible about birds:â This book is Gordon Gullion’s book of this generation, and much more.
Flanigan said, to him, “There is no greater praise than that.”
Standard hardcover fabric editions can be found online for $ 100, while there are only 38 leather-bound, signed and numbered limited editions left for $ 300.