Welcome to the host site for outdoor writer Steve Sorensen’s “Everyday Hunter” columns. For a complete index of all columns, go to EverydayHunter.com.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

A review of Steven Rinella's MEAT EATER

Reviewed by Steve Sorensen
(Originally published in the Havalon Sportsman's Post, September 4, 2012.) 
A kid can still grow up dreaming about being the next Jeremiah Johnson.

Really? A guy living in Brooklyn writes a book about hunting? What you might think isn’t even close. He’s not some odd kind of metrosexual without the aversion to wild game. Nor is he a casual hunter who occasionally escapes Gotham for an upstate camp where deer hunting is incidental to which beer goes best with what’s in the camp’s stew pot.

Enter Steven Rinella. Born in Michigan and groomed for hunting by a culture where kids can still grow up dreaming of being the next Jeremiah Johnson, Rinella actually made his boyhood hunting dreams happen. A blend of Daniel Boone, Jim Bridger and Tom Sawyer, he hesitates not at all to strike out for the territory ahead with traps, fishing rods, bows and guns. His adventures have taken him everywhere and his book, Meat Eater, takes us along. So, think of it as a travelogue.

The outdoors and the wildlife it hosts have held an attraction for Rinella for longer than he can remember. And he unapologetically tries to fill his tags. He declares himself, proudly, a meat eater. So, think of Meat Eater as a book about hunting.

But it’s not a book about killing. That’s the irony of Meat Eater. As Rinella pursues the experiences hunting offers across the continent, he weaves into his stories a philosophy of life that’s as gutsy and as honest and as deep as you’ll ever read. That’s what Meat Eater is – it’s really a book about a hunter’s values camouflaged as a book about a traveling hunter.

Certainly hunting is man’s oldest pursuit, and while much of man’s hunting history is lost, a big piece of it is recent enough for North Americans to remember how it shaped the continent. Rinella treats the fact that hunting is in its waning years as a tragedy – the very thing that gave man his ability to survive in a hostile world is on its way out at a time when the world is increasingly hostile.

In the pages of Meat Eater, you’ll clear up a few things in your own mind. You’ll learn that the primary motivation of hunters is not to kill. You’ll learn that hunters aren’t dimwits out to prove their manliness, or sadists seeking their jollies by causing animals to suffer. Rinella destroys the false stereotypes constantly reinforced by a culture that has severed itself from its own roots.

The truth is that hunters hunt for reasons little understood in an urban, technological age. And they take responsibility for it in a way that the average person today doesn’t even think about.

If anyone cares a lick about understanding what makes hunters tick, this is exactly the book to read. If modern hunters need confirmation for what they do and why, here it is. And if non-hunters (or anti-hunters) will risk reading a book about hunting that will threaten their preconceptions, this is the one.

Time will tell, but Meat Eater: Adventures from the Life of an American Hunter has what it will take to be a high water mark among twenty-first century essays on hunting. It’s well written, thoughtful, respectful, and it’s right.


Post a Comment

<< Home