BAYARD FOX graduated from Yale, the CIA promised a unique opportunity to do both by serving as a double agent. Assigned to Europe, the Congo, and Iran, Fox—who spoke several languages and was always game to learn new ones—grew disillusioned and resigned after 12 years. Soon after, a horse he was riding cartwheeled on him, shattering his hip. After organizing local fishermen in the Solomon Islands while swimming and diving for two years of rehabilitation, he was able to walk and ride again. Fox bought a ranch in the mountains of Wyoming, 17 miles from the nearest paved road and telephone, and set out with his family on his life’s true work: a sustainable, benevolent, ethical relationship with nature and the animals and people who thrive in it.
We had a chance to catch up with Bayard for an exclusive interview on his autobiography ‘Fisherman, Rancher, Horseman, Spy: True Stories of a Life Well-Lived’, this is what he shared with us.
Your title speaks worlds into a glimpse of your life. Why was telling these stories important to you?
I wanted to write this book in hopes that others could share some of my own pleasure in living through the various episodes of my unusual adventures. I also wanted to leave a record of my life so that it might help them avoid some of my own mistakes and to capitalize on my successes. I have often regretted not having such information from my illustrious ancestors going back four centuries when they first came to America
What was your hardest scene to write?
The most difficult scene to write was the divorce from my first wife when I deeply and selfishly hurt someone very dear to me.
Growing up, what were three of your all-time favorite books to read?
‘King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table’, by Howard Pyle (and most of the books by Howard Pyle)
‘The White Company’, by Conan Doyle (and most of the books by Conan Doyle)
‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’, by Mark Twain (and most of the books by Mark Twain)
‘Treasure Island’, by Robert Louis Stevenson (and all of his books)
In your words, what is the most difficult part and the best part of being a rancher?
While the long hours, annoying paperwork, and physically exhausting work were difficult in a sense, they were also very rewarding. The active physical challenges of handling horses, livestock, and farming, plus the independent lifestyle with riding, fishing, hunting, and entertaining like-minded guests were the best part of being a rancher.
If you could pick one life lesson that you have learned over the years, what would it be?
That little can be accomplished without the help and cooperation of other people voluntarily offered, and the need to accept help graciously. Be prepared to return favors where appropriate, and to offer them to complete strangers when the opportunity arises.
After a long day out on the range, what is something that you like to do to unwind? To relax by a blazing fireplace with good friends and a glass of wine.
Pick up a copy of ‘Fisherman, Rancher, Horseman, Spy: True Stories of a Life Well-Lived’ Today!