Heart and Blood: Living with Deer in America

Richard Nelson, Author
Richard Nelson, Author Alfred A. Knopf $27.5 (432p) ISBN 978-0-679-40522-1
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-679-73686-8
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In 10 reflective chapters, Nelson, a cultural anthropologist and naturalist living in rural Alaska, delivers an effective paean to the animals he loves and knows so well--and in so doing illuminates a great deal about the humans who thrill to see, study, hunt and eat these creatures. As cervine numbers have exploded in recent decades, deer-related problems (including automobile accidents and agricultural losses) and debates over how best to stabilize deer populations have escalated as well. By sensitively describing disparate case studies from Angel Island in San Francisco Bay to New York's Fire Island and points in between, Nelson (Shadow of the Hunter) demonstrates that local politics as much as biology will determine strategies, and that there are no quick fixes. He also passionately recaps the first day of hunting season in Wisconsin, participating in the hunt one year while joining an anti-hunting group the next. His description of his solitary hunt on an isolated Alaskan island as well as his astonishing luck in watching a wild fawn being born are drawn with insight and craft. Episodes like these serve to highlight the predicament that runs through the whole of this absorbing meditation: ""Perhaps only a person who hunts can penetrate the seeming paradox of loving a creature that you also stalk and kill and eat."" Drawings. (Oct.)
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