Undercover wildlife officer gives
account of preying on poachers
Over the course of 18 years, R.T. Stewart hunted deer, raccoon, turkey and other wildlife out of season, bringing in game over the legal limit, using prohibited weapons and wearing boots made of the skins of endangered species. He wasn’t a criminal — he explains it all in his memoir Poachers Were My Prey: Eighteen Years as an Undercover Wildlife Officer.
Beginning in the early 1990s, Stewart’s assignments would find him living in vans and unheated, roach-infested trailers for as long as a year and a half without breaking cover, developing conflicted feelings about befriending several of the men he was investigating. Some grew to trust him so fully that they allowed him to videotape their illegal activities, even hamming it up for the camera. He was involved in two landmark cases.
Stewart tells of different operations targeting suspects like the one he and a partner dubbed “The Hunter from Hell,” who didn’t know that the agents’ van was fitted with surveillance equipment, recording their incriminating actions.
Some were exceedingly brutal; others were peculiar, like the Cleveland Chinese-restaurant suppliers who wanted Stewart and his partner to provide them with snapping turtles and a black bear.
Stewart’s story is “as told to” outdoor writer W.H. “Chip” Gross, who’s published wildlife and fishing guides — a good thing, because, as Stewart’s former supervisor remarks in the foreword, Stewart isn’t “particularly gifted at putting words on paper.” He tells a great story, though.
Poachers Were My Prey (216 pages, softcover) costs $19.95 from Kent State University Press.
Randy McNutt celebrates what remains
In his previous books, like Ghosts: Ohio’s Haunted Landscapes, Lost Arts, and Forgotten Places, Randy McNutt has searched the back roads of Ohio for ghost towns, places that aren’t there anymore. In his new book, Finding Utopia: Another Journey into Lost Ohio, McNutt’s goal is to “celebrate what remains,” to find remnants of the heartland before they disappear.
One of McNutt’s most fascinating finds is the story of Magnetic Springs, a village northwest of Columbus. A council member tells McNutt that the village, with a population just over 300, can’t even afford to pay counsel for advice on dissolving its incorporation, let alone to repair the failing sewers. But a century ago, Magnetic Springs was one of the most prosperous resorts in the country, with hordes of well-heeled tourists who came to bathe in the mineral-rich spring water and stay in the fine hotels, now all gone.
The author finds more detail than most when telling the popular tale of Rogue’s Hollow and Cry Baby Bridge and, in a final chapter, shares his research on the peculiar names of some communities that may exist only in memory, like Polkadotte and Democracy. Brimstone Corners, the intersection of state Routes 21 and 93 in Canal Fulton, “was a meeting place for farmers, canal deck hands, and miners.”
Finding Utopia (258 pages, softcover) costs $21.95 from Black Squirrel Books, an imprint of Kent State University Press.
Stay Awake, by Cleveland Heights author Dan Chaon, is one of three finalists for the 2012 Story Prize, which honors short-story collections. The $20,000 prize will be announced March 13 in New York.
Akron-Summit County Public Library (Tallmadge branch, 90 Community Road) — Terry Gordon talks about his book No Storm Lasts Forever: Transforming Suffering Into Insight, 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday; Sara Ruble, co-author of Surviving and Thriving: Grief Relief and Continuing Relationships, speaks from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday.
Cuyahoga County Public Library (Parma-South branch, 7335 Ridge Road) — Margaret Peterson Haddix, author of the Shadow Children series and The 39 Clues series, appears at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Registration requested; call 440-885-5362.
Akron-Summit County Public Library (Northwest Akron branch, 1720 Shatto Ave.) — Irv Korman, author of I Was Jerry Lewis’ Bodyguard for 10 Minutes, talks about his celebrity encounters, 1 p.m. Wednesday.
Hudson Library & Historical Society (96 Library St.) — Author Joe Pulizzi (Get Content Get Customers, Managing Content Marketing: The Real-World Guide for Creating Passionate Subscribers to Your Brand) begins the 2013 Winter/Spring Entrepreneurship Series, talking about content marketing, 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. Registration requested; call 330-653-6658.
— Barbara McIntyre
Special to the Beacon Journal
Send information about books of local interest to Lynne Sherwin, Features Department, Akron Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Event notices should be sent at least two weeks in advance.