cover image Deer Man: Seven Years of Living in the Wild

Deer Man: Seven Years of Living in the Wild

Geoffroy Delorme, trans. from the French by Shaun Whiteside. Greystone, $26.95 (224p) ISBN 978-1-77164-979-7

Delorme recounts living in France’s Forêt de Bord among the roe deer in his poignant debut. Drawn to the forest and its fauna, Delorme spent years going “back and forth between human society and wilderness” before opting to live with his “real family,” roe deer. He starts by observing the animals’ behavior, to “mimic the way the squirrels look after themselves” and the way deer rest. In this manner, he becomes another creature in their world and uses only a few items of his own (matches, a knife, a camera, and a small mirror among them) to survive and document his experiences. Eventually, Delorme recognizes individual deer and they become characters in their own right: a deer named Star giving birth is cause for exhilaration, and when she’s shot by hunters, it’s a haunting moment of loss. As well, Delorme outlines his survival techniques and his hygiene routine (“I run my index finger over my teeth with a mixture of water and ash, and the job’s done”), and movingly describes the drastic lifestyle change: “I am just happy to be here,” he writes, “and to feel nature rather than to strip it bare.” Nature lovers will delight in these candid reflections. Photos. (Sept.)