Back Road To Crazy

Stories From The Field

Strap on your snake chaps and slap on some sunscreen as biologist Jennifer Bové takes you out to the field in the company of biologists working on the frontlines of wildlife studies, botany, and resource management. This exuberant and entertaining collection of stories ranges from Myanmar to the Midwest, from Argentina to Alaska and many points in between, offering tales that are by turns thoughtful, funny, tragic, and just-plain-crazy.

During five years of working in snake-ridden sloughs and rough northern seas, Jennifer Bové often asked herself 'Why am I doing this?' Realizing her own experiences were only the tip of the iceberg, she invited friends and colleagues to answer the same question. The result is stories that include deadly snakebites, a plague of marmots, special delivery skunk oil, bald eagle wrangling, and a mountain goat loose in the galley of a research vessel. These adventures are the details behind the data collected by these men and women driven to unlock nature’s truths. In The Back Road to Crazy, seasoned researchers and novices alike reveal the impulse to trade the comfort of a more sheltered career for demanding physical labor, whims of weather, and the company of unruly creatures.

 Jennifer Bové obtained her B.S. in biology from the University of Missouri. Her writing has appeared in various magazines and journals. 

Table of Contents:


Introduction 1

1 Bit, Mark W. Moffett 5

2 What Joe Loved, Mark W Moffett 12

3 Skunk Oil, Betsy L. Howell 14

4 Connections Are Everything, Ram Papish 26

5 Creeping Death, Howard Whiteman 29

6 In Big Fence Country, Michael Rogner 38

7 No Forwarding Address for Vernal Pools, Roy A Woodward 48

8 Running the Wind, Jennifer Bove’ 50

9 Swimming’ Hole, Wendell R. Haag 59

10 The Goat in the Galley, Chris Smith 60

11 A Fox’s Love Story, Ran Levy-Yamamori 68

12 Fire: A Prairie’s Own Companion, Alice Cascorbi 70

13 Road Hunter, David M. Liberty 76

14 Snares, Troy Davis 78

15 Pileated Woodpeckers, Patrick Loafman 84

16 Museum Sisters of Cheerful Disposition,

Barbara Blanchard DeWolfe 88

17 Up Trapper Creek, Jennifer Bove’ 90

18 Love in the Margin: Finding Refuge in the Blue Mountains,

Joseph L. Ebersole 97

19 The Clinch River Diner, Charles F. Saylor 104

20 The Science of Islands, Scott Stollery 107

21 Tigerland, Eric Dinerstein 110

22 A Mother’s Worst Nightmare, Tonya M. Haff 132

23 Potheads, Sharyn Hedrick 136

24 Gumbo, Lynn Sainsbury 142

25 La Yunga, Betsy L Howell 145

26 Rollie’s Catch, Chris Smith 156

27 The Gift Eagle, Dan Mulhern 159

28 Tequila, Patrick Loafman 167

29 Polar Summer, Cameron Walker 172

30 Booby, James Lazell 179

31 Sandhill Season, Jennifer Bove 182

32 Eating Crow (and Other Ways to Atone for Sins in the

Wilderness), Chris Smith 186

33 Chasing the Trail of a Frog, Elizabeth Dayton 189

34 Dances with Coyotes, John Shivik 201

35 Snapper’s Kiss, Jeff Beane 206

36 Whistling Dixie in the Land of the Midnight Sun,

Benton Taylor 208

37 Dependence Day, Jeff Beane 220

38 The Old Camp Coffee-Pot, Badger Clark 224

Acknowledgments 226

Contributors 227

Praise and Reviews:

"The Back Road to Crazy is an entertaining and enlightening buffet of firsthand anecdotes about conservation fieldwork. It's all here: drama, adventure, toil, tedium, tears, laughter, mystery, terror, wonder, and ecological insight throughout. Overall, The Back Road to Crazy is a colorful path to wisdom."—Chip Ward, author of Hope's Horizon: Three Visions for Healing the American Land