TV host and outdoorsman Rinella (American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon, 2008, etc.) contemplates the hunter’s place in modern society while reliving his favorite hunting trips.
Before committing to the writing life, the author made a serious attempt at carving out a career as a fur trapper like his frontier hero Daniel Boone. Even though that endeavor fell through, the kid who grew up bagging squirrels, muskrats and beavers would not abandon the hunt. Instead, he found other ways to devote much of his life to stalking bighorn sheep, black bears, mountain lions and the like. At one point, he even managed to successfully split his time between college and subsistence hunting. While Rinella has taken more than a few trophies along the way, his excursions into the great outdoors have mainly been about feasting on wild game at the conclusion of each hunt—and he’s eager to share. Relentlessly descriptive and endlessly evocative “tasting guides” at the close of each chapter help armchair hunters get a sense of what it might be like digging into their own heaping plate of camp meat, deer hearts or sun-dried jerky. Depending on the palate, readers will find these gamey recipes either mouthwatering or gut-wrenching, but the writing is steadfastly satisfying and clear. A passage on the purported edibility of roasted beaver tail is especially entertaining. The author wisely allows philosophical questions pertaining to the validity of hunting and the efficacy of state-enforced regulations to simmer in the background, and he effectively shows nature in all its glory.
An insider’s look at hunting that devotees and nonparticipants alike should find fascinating.