Book on state’s ‘wild’ side proving popular

ADDISON COUNTY — According to local vendors, Megan Price’s new book “Vermont Wild” has been selling like hotcakes.
The book is a conglomeration of 13 standalone stories told from the perspective of Vermont game warden of 32 years, Eric Nuse of Johnson. Nuse teamed up with Price, a Fair Haven resident, over a year ago to put his stories in a form that would be digestible for readers both young and old.
“Eric dropped by one day and said, ‘Why don’t you write a book?’ And I’ve always wanted to,” Price said. “He said, ‘I’ve got funny stories and you’ve got funny stories, so why don’t we put them together?’ And I said, ‘Let’s go for it.’”
Before venturing into the zany world of game-warden humor writing, Price worked all over Vermont as a reporter for the Rutland Herald and the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus for years. She later served three terms in the state Legislature representing Fair Haven in the House.
After years of reporting and public service, Price decided to try her hand at writing and publishing a book of her own. She reworked the stories that Nuse had acquired over his 32 years as game warden, “fleshing them out” and “embellishing” them here or there.
“They are slightly embellished, but they are all true,” she said.
Once the text was ready to go, she got illustrator and former Vermont Fish and Wildlife game warden Bob Lutz of Fairfax to draw cartoons to accompany the guffaw-generating anecdotes. Last to hop on board the team was Carrie Cook of Cambridge who helped set the text and colorize the cover art.
“She totally got what I wanted,” Price said. “I would describe it as ‘Adirondack on a crumb.’ I wanted it to be really funny, but not obliquely stupid funny.”
The cover features a caricature of Nuse in a car with a half-dozen “coon babies” getting into all sorts of mischief in the back seat that illustrates the “Raccoon Riot” story featured in the book.
“We want people to laugh, to appreciate what we have, and to appreciate the game wardens,” Price said. “They are the original environmentalists — they don’t just give money, but they are out there sloggin’ around, making sure it’s a fair fight for the animals.”
A run-in with a bear in a cornfield, stepping on loose deer guts in the middle of the night, nutso dogs — all of these and more can be found among the light-hearted stories based on the mishaps from Nuse’s warden days. Price tells the stories through a first-person narrator in an attempt to give it that “told around a campfire” feel that she thinks both the older and younger generations can appreciate.
“I think it’s great to read to old people,” she said. “It’s perfect for people who are not necessarily having a great time and need to escape, and it’s a great conversation starter because it stirs up their memories. I wish my dad was alive because he would enjoy it.”
In designing the book, Price catered the design and size of the font both to young and old readers.
“It’s big and there’s a lot of leading between the letters. It allows kids who are trying to sound it out to go back to the words easier. Also it’s better for geezers,” she joked. “The forty-something set love it because first they’ll look at a book and say, ‘Oh no, I can’t even read this sucker. I have to go get my glasses.’ And they open it up and say, ‘Hey!’”
The cover alone has certainly grabbed a number of people’s attention, according to New Haven Jiffy Mart employee Lisa Gevry, who said that sales have been great thus far.
“A lot of different people have bought it,” Gevry said. “A woman will say, ‘Oh, that’d be perfect for my husband!’”
Gevry said last week that Jiffy Mart still has several copies on hand, but that they will most likely restock for the holidays.
Grant Novak of the Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury will also be stocking up for the holiday shopping season. According to Novak, they have already sold out once and gotten more in.
“It seems to be going pretty well,” he said. “We sold the nine copies that we got in last Friday, and we have a dozen on hand right now. We’ll try to have a lot on hand for the holidays because people are always looking for something for dad, or for grandpa and anything with a Vermont flavor at this time of year does pretty well. One person came in and bought a number of copies for all of the hunters in her family.”
Hunter or not, “Vermont Wild” threatens to tickle one’s funny bone.
“I think this book is unique,” Price said. “I can’t find another book of warden humor anywhere. These guys take themselves extremely seriously. But come on, in any profession — beautician, mortician, whatever — there are hilarious things that go on.”
Tamara Hilmes is at [email protected].

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