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June 30, 2006

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The Collected Heavey: My take on the Dysfunctional Outdoorsman

Feb04_660 I would like to be able to say that I am pleased to introduce Bill Heavey, but that is a crock. I’m writing this because I was told that if I didn’t, I would be fired. I would like to be able to say that Bill and I are really great good friends despite our jabbing at each other in print, but that’s not true either. We regard each other with suspicion, much like two dogs circling a fire hydrant. 

But give Bill his due. He is making an excellent living writing about his life as the Dysfunctional Outdoorsman, and that is not an act. A friend of mine who was on a caribou hunt with him describes it this way: “Bill really is worthless in the wilderness. I know someone who wanted to beat him up on general principles, but I have to admit, he’s pretty funny to have around.”

So let’s leave it at that. Here are Bill’s columns, presented for your entertainment. Or you can watch police-car crashes on Spike TV.—DP


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Thanks, but no thanks, Dave. How insightful to suggest watching police chases as a viable alternative! After all, Mr. Heavey is definitely on the same level as "Car 54, Where Are You?"

Greg Russell

Thought you wanted to keep this about firearms?


Do I detect a tad of professional rivalry? Why don't you two just settle it the old fashion, American way? Go back to back, take ten paces, and be done with it!


Mr. Petzal,

I'm not buying your feint attempt to play down your admiration and fondness for Mr. Heavey. I think that anyone that has read F&S for a while, can see how much you do care about this man; and that's OK. It's OK for even a curmudgeon such as yourself to have strong feelings of affection for another man. It doesn't mean that you are....well...hmmmm... Well, liking Mr. Heavey certainly shouldn't make you feel obligated to perform an introspective self-audit as to whether any Freudianisms apply to you being obsessed with firearms and unable to openly state that you like another man. Hmmmm...
Perhaps it would be better that you not openly acknowledge your true feelings for Mr. Heavey after all. I for one will try to restrict my reading to just the typed word and not the spaces in between. Yes....that now seems to be the best for all :)

Mike Diehl

Dave - You and Bill can both hunt with me anytime you want. It'll be like the Larry, Curley and Mo vs The Desert. ;) My hunting season begins 1 September with doves. If you like tough, dark poultry, come on down!

(I'm still trying to find a good recipe that will cook doves up to something tender. Any suggestions from the collected wisdom will be welcome here.)

Thomas Hall aka TEH

Isn't that his column that your editors always put at the very back of the Field & Stream magazine? I think it is. Still, I'm sure that he's a very good writer or they would not use his work at all. Truth be told I haven't read any of his stories because F&S is a thick magazine and there are so many other things in it that are worth reading.

From what you've written about him I draw a picture of a great tragic character, right up there with Sisyphus & his boulder.

Consider that most of us, however much a novice we are in the field can strive to improve ourselves, and can endure our hardships a little better because of the hope that someday we'll remember to bring extra socks, or someday we'll eat eggs that haven't been dropped in the ashes.

Imagine then the plight of your poor old Bill: The dumb mistakes that must have seemed so funny at first are now a necessity. While everyone around him grows in experience & intellect, there's Bill, doomed to always be the same dumb klutz. If he becomes competent he's out of a job and then what exactly does he put on his resume?

Personally I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. Or would I?

P.S. In what has been pointed out to me as an important part of our great american right & tradition of free speech I am dropping The T.E.H and signing with my name.

Dave Petzal

To Kevin: Let me also quote Freud: "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."

To Matt: Oddly, there's no rivalry because we've staked out different territory.

To Thomas Hall: I have no sympathy for Bill Heavey, based upon my experience with Gene Hill. For 30 years, Mr. Hill portrayed himself as a loveable klutz, even though he was very skillful at a lot of things, and had more fun, and got away with more, than any two people have a right to.


Mr. Petzal,

I'm not sure that I would use the cigar quote, as I believe that President Clinton used something similar along with is? iz? was? what?....as a line of defense.

As for Gene Hill... I can see where he could really get on your nerves. I for one would get so irritated. It seemed every time that I tried to get through one of his books, all of the Kleenex in the house would disappear.

As a reader, I feel a certain bond with you Mr. Petzal, because you are a consummate smarty-pants. Don't change:)

As for Mr. Heavey, I could already relate to him; because as much as I would like to think myself a capable outdoorsman, I too am a royal goof. Mr. Heavey really connected with me though when he wrote "Path to Enlightenment". Like Mr. Heavey, I'm an "older Dad" and we have two little boys, 3yrs. old and 9 months old. They surely descended from the heavens like Mr. Heavey's Emma; and just like Emma, they have ruined, complicated, and enriched my life beyond all measure. I was going to try and get a letter written to F&S to hopefully be forwarded on to Mr. Heavey regarding how much I was touched by "Path to Enlightenment" as a father and as a hunter. Before I did that, I did a Google search to hopefully find other past articles of Mr. Heavey's to enjoy. I came across a copy of Lilyfish. A heart-breaking yet beautiful story. My eyes are actually watering as I think of Mr. Heavey's words right now. The story left me stunned, upset, more appreciative of my children, and at a loss of worthwhile words to try and communicate to Mr. Heavey; that by having the priviledge to read about his Lily, a whole complexity of undertones had been added to all of his writings for me. Anyway, others wrote good letters to the editor of F&S commending Mr. Heavey and "Path to Enlightenment". Mine wouldn't have been any better. I'd appreciate it though, if you would possibly find a way to forward my comments to Mr. Heavey. I'd like for him to know that there is another bumbling outdoor Dad out there that enjoys his writing and is sometimes moved by it.

Tony Deve

Lots of fun beating up on Bill Huh
Sounds like your doing what you get paid for. Keep it up no matter
what page you end up on.Whats the differance if your a Gun Nut or just a plain old Nut. You both fit
that definition sometimes.

Dave Petzal

To Kevin: I'll see if it can be done. One writes a piece like Lilyfish only once in a lifteime, and at a fearful cost.


Mr. Petzal,

Thank you!



While enjoying the jabs and ripostes, I'll ask what I've wondered for many months:

Is it Heavey as in 'Heavy', or Heavey as in 'Hee-Vee'?


Petzal is more right than he knows when he says he and Heavey are like two dogs circling a fire hydrant. They are two versions of the same breed, the All-American mutt. I bet Petzal isn't as competent as he'd like us to believe and Heavey isn't as incompetent.As long as they keep entertaining us, who cares? to'em.

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