Guy de la Valdène 1944–2023

Guy de la Valdene
Author and sportsman, Guy de la Valdéne on an upland bird hunt in southeastern, Wyoming.

Guy de la Valdène, the author and filmmaker perhaps more famous for the company he kept than the movies he made or the books he wrote, has died aged 79. Valdène was born in New York City in 1944 but grew up in a “small castle built in 1642” in Normandy, France. He attended Cornell University in 1963 and the University of Miami, circa 1964–’65.

Valdène (pictured here in 2000) first came to prominence with his seminal documentary Tarpon, about the infancy of flats fly-fishing in Florida Bay before it was irreparably changed. Now considered a cult classic, the film features writers Jim Harrison, Thomas McGuane and Richard Brautigan with music by Jimmy Buffett. Together with artist Russell Chatham, the group became famous as “The Sporting Club.”

In 1985 Valdène wrote Making Game: An Essay on Woodcock, and then in 1995 he followed it with For a Handful of Feathers, which Jim Harrison called, “a splendid and compelling book about quail.” In 2012 he wrote The Fragrance of Grass, about his romance with gray partridge. Other books included Red Stag: A Novel (2011) and On the Water: A Fishing Memoir (2015). 

In 1990 Valdène bought Dogwood Plantation, close to Tallahassee, Florida, where he shot “doves in the fall, bobwhite quail in the winter, and turkeys in the spring.” His life, however, was not without tragedy. In June 2014 his daughter, Valerie, died in the Galapagos Islands under suspicious circumstances. His wife of 55 years, Therese, passed away in 2020 after battling Alzheimer’s disease. He is survived by his son, Jean Pierre. 

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