I could not think of a title for my review. I don't write many and find Amazon's 5 star system constraining. This book is extraordinarily good. The title will, unfortunately, be off-putting to some. If one could choose another title, I would suggest: A compendium of almost four-dozen essays written by men and women about their love and passion for wildlife and conservation. It is so much more than a book about hunting, that one cannot describe it simply. Further, what is equally astounding is the fact that the "collector," David Petersen, was able to obtain such a wonderful robust collection.
If one expects this to be a book merely about hunting, that expectation is wrong. If one expects this to be essays written only by undereducated, good old boys-"slob hunters"-who relish ambushing Bambi from a truck that is wrong. If your expectation is that all the essays will be unambiguously pro-hunting or gun sport, you are "off the mark." Fairly, Nelson, in his introduction says," In the United States, hunters are probably the largest, most diverse, and most important potential advocates for preservation of natural habitats and protection of wild animal populations." That remark comes close.
I believe that many city folk have so lost touch with wild life that they now believe that hunting is something akin to a video game using live ammunition. That a hunter would relish spending an entire day tracking game, and not succeed seems antithetical to their purpose for some. After reading these essays, one understands why the writers deem the day a success, something very special; e.g., "I began to realize that what I like best about hunting was the companionship of a few good old trusted buddies in the out-of-doors."
If hunters can feel so deeply-even those who later abandon it-one hopes for a return to earlier days when more Americans shared the pastime. Pete Dunne writes about "the Great Moment: How the universe held its breath, waiting-waiting for the sound of an echo that never came; the echo of a shot that was never fired" while sighting a deer-and not shooting-after his many years of hunting. You can feel the heart of this "ex"-hunter who still declares that "anti-hunters who believe that hunting is synonymous with killing and that anyone who hunts is unfeeling and cruel" ... "aren't dishonest. They are merely wrong."
I could go further, providing so many wonderful examples of the humanity of these writers. I suggest, however, that you make the time to read this book. Perhaps the greatest compliment I can pay to these writers is that they are knowledgeable, articulate, caring people. If their hunting experience has helped them become that way, hunting is very important to our culture and our society.