INSIDE MY LIFE OUTDOORS by Doug Dohne. Masthof Press (www.masthof.com), 2017, 4,396 pp., $14.99. ISBN-13: 978-152109788-5. Click here to purchase.
To be transparent, I must say that I know this author personally.
Doug Dohne is a first-time author but hardly a new writer. In fact, he had a decades-long career as a newspaperman. The great outdoors is one of his passions, ranking right up there with God, his family and his career as a writer.
His book, INSIDE MY LIFE OUTDOORS, is a 396-page paperback, and was recently self-published. But only 200 copies were printed. The book’s almost out of print, with copies distributed to friends and associates who were instrumental in his life and in publishing his work. It is, however, available as an e-book through Amazon.
Doug unknowingly came to my rescue big time a few months ago. Working for a local church and in charge of the monthly newsletter, I was desperate for an exciting “hot” cover story. It would be my last issue as I was leaving the job, and who doesn’t want to go out on a high note?
Doug had casually mentioned he was writing a book a few months prior. And I casually mentioned that it would make for a great article. So when he walked in and handed me a copy of the finished product, I wasn’t surprised: more like delighted, but a bit taken aback.
Egads: the book was about the outdoors! Fishing and hunting and worms and the like. Oh no! I’ve only ever gone camping once in my life, and kept it to an overnight excursion so I could get home to a hot shower and civilization the next day.
And my one experience as a child going to summer camp was short-lived. It pretty much ended the day our excursion was fishing. My sister whipped her bamboo rod with its metal hook behind her to cast her line and I became the catch of the day, because the hook attached itself to my bare ankle. Enough for me, as I went back to my cozy home and my real love, music. Could you blame me for thinking that getting through this book might not be an easy experience? I’m still having flashbacks!
But in a nod to the line from the movie, “Jerry Maguire,” “You had me at hello,” Doug had me at the cover. The photos on INSIDE MY LIFE OUTDOORS screamed “fun”: pictures of Doug, family and friends having a ball, often with hilarious consequences. His tongue-in-cheek, self-depreciating, deadpan sense of humor is evident everywhere, as is his absolute love of family, friends and God’s creation, mother earth. I may not know a trout from a carp, and I still have zero interest in fishing, but I know something special when I see it, and this looked special, and very cool.
Doug wrote the book to leave a record of his experiences, a legacy of sorts of the years and the friends he’s met and has kept for decades along the way. After all, it’s not every man who can claim an angling, or fishing, fraternity that swells to 62 members.
I read the book from cover to cover, and while I quickly scanned over some parts because of my deadline, the book garnered a three-page article in the newsletter, cover included. Often times as I sat in bed reading it at night, I was howling with laughter: so much so that my better half kept asking, “what’s so funny?” It turned out to be my most fun and rewarding newsletter story to work on in the year I was there. It was not just a hoot to read, I really did learn some new things and now have a new respect for the great outdoors.
INSIDE MY LIFE OUTDOORS is four really big chapters. It’s educational, entertaining and thought-provoking. A film such as “The Great Outdoors” with John Candy and Dan Aykroyd comes to mind, with Doug’s hilarious accounts of his family and friends and their outdoor encounters and missteps, some coincidental and some self-anointed.
Laugh-out-loud escapades to the extent you wonder how Doug is still standing!
For example, in June 1961, the men in the family felled a huge tree, which promptly fell directly on top of the family’s 1954 Mercury automobile. In the summer of 1953, when aiming for a rabbit with his BB gun, Doug found himself on the wrong side of the law. The next day, courtesy of an irate neighbor, subscribers to The Easton Express (Doug’s future employer) would read about his escapades.
Whether or not his appearance in the papers was the impetus for his later decades-long career as a newspaper reporter and editor has not been determined. However, perhaps there is some irony that a man who loves spending so much time under trees would later make his living with a major byproduct: newspapers!
The book is also a great educational tool for those who may not be familiar with wildlife and related outdoor activities. But at the same time, it’s a colorful, appealing read for any avid outdoors person.
The book lists intriguing subchapters, such as “It’s listen up or lose out”, “Let’s see what happens!”, “Can turkeys tell time?”, “Look ma, no hands” and on and on. We learn the word “Swatara” is the anglicized word for a Susquehannock Indian term meaning “where we eat eels.” You can test your trout knowledge with the 40-question quiz found on page 330. Hunter or not, if you turn to page 181, you’ll learn about the economic impact that deer hunting season has on all of us. Animal life abounds in the book, and the attempts to catch them are relayed in often hilarious stories.
In the end, INSIDE MY LIFE OUTDOORS is really a life story and a love story. At times funny, at times poignant, it chronicles the highs and lows of life that have occurred along the way. It details Doug’s appreciation for the beauty and splendor of God’s earth, and his concern for the environment and how we will leave it for future generations.