The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 89, July 1985 - April, 1986 Page: 102
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
terference with their normal cycles produces unpredictable and proba-
bly unwanted consequences-a fancy way of saying that if you cut the
hardwood trees the wildlife loses its habitat and either becomes extinct
or is greatly reduced in health and numbers.
Joe C. Truett and Daniel Lay present this message in Land of Bears
and Honey. Their "land" is East Texas, and, more narrowly, central East
Texas, especially the Angelina, Jasper, and Tyler county area. Their
method is at first confusing, but before the reader completes this brief
book a definition and a meaning emerge. The authors alternate a nar-
rative section on a circumstance of nature, such as the virgin forest,
grass, bears and bees, the red wolf, and the passenger pigeon, with a
story about a family of hunters, stretching back several generations for
approximately the last 150 years. This account concludes with the mod-
ern hunter, an executive with a Houston-based petroleum firm, who
still has the hunter's instinct but declines to shoot squirrels because he is
so happy to see their return in abundance to the woods of East Texas. It
is never quite clear how much of this story is autobiographical for ei-
ther or both of the authors, but the reader suspects the description is
appropriate to each.
A good bit of the natural history of East Texas can be learned from
their book. For example, they discuss the natural use of fire in restoring
grass, limiting the number of trees, and providing the dead and decay-
ing trees required by some species of wildlife. Their analysis of the dis-
appearance of the red wolf and its replacement by a hybrid coyote will
be interesting even to people who could not tell the difference between
the two mammals if faced with an example of each. Stockraising, log-
ging, farming, and other land uses are each discussed in relation to
their effects on the land.
Once the reader understands the pattern of narration and story tell-
ing, the blend works. The story illustrates what the narrative seeks to
teach. One haunting theme seems to come through, especially in the
story of the bear hunters (but it is applicable to the hunters of wolves,
pigeons, deer, squirrels, and the other animal citizens of the East Texas
woods): the hunters are responding to an instinct to kill the thing that
fascinates them most. They hunt it until it is no more, and then, in old
age, they lament that it is no longer there to hunt.
Truett and Lay conclude on a happier note. If left alone, and espe-
cially if given a little help, the wild things do return. Whether enough
wild places will exist for them is another matter, but the authors, and
this reviewer, hope that those places will be waiting.
A good word must be reserved for Francis E. Abernethy's foreword.
Like the body of the book, his foreword is a personal thing, a confes-
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 89, July 1985 - April, 1986, periodical, 1985/1986; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117151/m1/128/: accessed October 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.