Written by Jason Worley
As a kid whose only concern in life was finding a way to get into the woods or on the water, I was always reading any outdoor publication when I couldn’t physically get outside. One magazine that most any outdoorsman will be familiar with is Field and Stream. Growing up, I distinctly remember reading a certain monthly column titled “Hill Country.” It would eventually come to my attention that it was so named because the author of this column was a man by the name of Gene Hill. Now, if you’re familiar with the name, I need not go into much detail on his ability to spin a story. If by chance, though, you are unfamiliar with him, it's safe to say you have missed out and I will attempt to give a little background.
Gene Hill began a full-time writing career in the 70s and continued to pen articles his entire life. He was a veteran of World War II and a Harvard graduate. Hill is probably best known for his unbelievable way of turning even the simplest aspect of an outdoor adventure into a witty tale, and in many cases, a life lesson. He had an unmatched affection for a good hunting dog and could make one feel that a well-balanced gun had as much life in it as a rambunctious child. He was a trout fisherman, upland bird hunter and, honestly, a true all-around outdoorsman. Best of all he could make you feel like you were his student sitting next to him in a duck blind or around a good campfire. His writing made you present.
In 1996, shortly before his passing, Hill put together a book titled, Passing a Good Time with Guns, Dogs, Fly Rods, and Other Joys. This book, whose chapters have been previously published in some fashion within the pages of Field and Stream, truly shows just how well Gene Hill could draw in his readers and make them feel at home. Chapters carrying titles such as, “Fly Bum,” “The Art of How To,” and “Another Dog?,” are just a few of what you will find within the pages of this book. Hill's way of describing the simple things is what sets him apart from so many writers, both then and now.
I’ve never considered myself much of a Dove hunter, as my kill ratio is usually somewhere around 2 doves per box of shells, but after reading the chapter titled “Modest Admissions,” I feel good knowing Hill was right there with me. His final paragraph to the chapter gives you a taste of his wit and reads as follows. “In olden days it was considered a great mark of honor to have “He hath slain the lion” engraved as an epitaph. It might be written on my stone, “He hath missed the dove.” A man does what he can…..keeping up with the changing times.
Hills' way with words must be experienced to be appreciated, and I can’t think of a better place to start than by reading “Passing a Good time.” Pick it up at the link below, you won’t regret it.