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Saturday, November 13, 2010

What Deer Do. Why They Do It.

by Steve Sorensen
(Originally published in the Warren Times Observer, November 13, 2010.)

If you think deer are beautiful and
endlessly fascinating, this book
speaks to those twin interests.

Two thousand years ago Solomon wrote, “Of the making of books there is no end” (Ecclesiastes 12:12). It’s still true today. And it’s as true in the whitetail world as it is in any field. Case in point – one of the nation’s leading authorities on deer behavior and deer hunting has just come out with his seventh outstanding book.

I thought Charles Alsheimer had already done his best work in Strategies for Whitetails (2006), but now he has produced Whitetails: A Photographic Journey Through the Seasons. In two respects, this book is even better.

First, most hunters are aware of what deer are doing during the breeding season and the hunting season, but not so much during the other months of the year. That knowledge is important for the hunter/naturalist, and it’s all in this book both in text and photographic form.

Second, although this book can help hunters, it’s not a book about hunting so it should have a far broader audience. Whether you’re a hunter or not, if you think deer are beautiful and endlessly fascinating (and what nature lover doesn’t?), this book speaks to those twin interests.

Whitetails: A Photographic Journey Through the Seasons capitalizes on two of Charles Alsheimer’s great aptitudes. First, he’s arguably the world’s foremost talent in photographing deer. During more than 30 years of pressing shutter buttons and cataloging hundreds of thousands of images, he has witnessed everything the whitetail deer does in its daily, seasonal, and yearly behavior. Every facet of the whitetail’s world has been captured by Alsheimer’s camera lens and studiously examined.

That brings me to his second aptitude. As Contributing Editor on Whitetail Behavior for Deer and Deer Hunting magazine and host of Deer & Deer Hunting TV, he understands what deer do and why they do it as well as any biologist, hunter, wildlife manager or nature lover anywhere. If you have a question about deer behavior, Alsheimer probably has the answer.

He virtually lives in the world of deer. Whitetails are more than an obsession for him – they’re his life’s work. Every day he’s in a unique position to monitor and research their behavior and provide his readers with an eyewitness account of what deer are doing and why they’re doing it.

The chapters cover each month of the year and begin with April as winter ends and springtime rejuvenation begins. Everything is from the perspective of the deer – fawning season, the secluded months of antler growing, interdependence of doe family groups, interaction with other species, the developing rivalries within bachelor groups, dispersal of young bucks, scent communication, the challenges predators bring, the exhausting activity of courtship and breeding, the rigors of winter – all that happens in the world of whitetails is covered in 190 pages between quality hardback covers.

The book includes over 200 of the sharpest, most revealing photographs possible, plus every chapter ends with a digest of “Vital Information” detailing the important behaviors going on during that month in the life of the whitetail.

After 12 chapters about deer through the months, Alsheimer doesn’t quit. Chapter 13 covers the intriguing topic of antler development, and then he gives a bonus. He turns his attention to you, the nature enthusiast, in Chapter 14. It’s loaded with tips on how to take your own photos and maximize your enjoyment of wildlife through photography.

Get a copy for yourself, your favorite hunter or any wildlife watcher. Order them autographed directly from Charles J. Alsheimer, 4730 County Route #70A, Bath, NY, 14810. Send him $29.99 plus $5.00 shipping and handling, and he’ll turn your order around as fast as he can.

By the way – Alsheimer described this book to me as a “coffee table book,” but I think that description sells it short. Why? Because coffee table books generally get more attention from dustrags than from readers. If this really is a coffee table book, it’s one that will never need dusting.

Once you’ve read it, you’ll dip back into it every month of the year to refresh your knowledge of whitetails, what they’re doing, and why.


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