Friday, September 28, 2012

Colorado Elk Hunt: Arrival in Camp

A lifetime of daydreaming, two years of careful preparation, and a limited budget were just part of the equation. Attempting a DIY bow hunt for elk in Colorado has been on a wish list in my family for years. To be honest, it always seemed like more of a pipe dream for us. As I was growing up in NY, I could not fathom the endless possibilities that were available to us as hunters. I was blinded by fear, lack of knowledge and funds. Little did I know that moving to California, meeting new friends and just asking questions would lead to the hunt of a lifetime.

In 2011, I was supposed to head to Colorado to bow hunt for elk. Some unforeseen issues arose and I was unable to make the trip. While most would be disappointed, my focus was on my family and it truly did not bother me. I am a firm believer that if it is meant to be it will happen when it should. Instead of the common 'Woe is me' attitude, I started planning a 2012 elk hunt with Piranha Custom Bowstrings owner Eddy Erautt. Eddy and I have been friends for a couple years and he is a wealth of information. Plus, as a Colorado resident, he knows the area well and would be available to assist me on my hunt. For that I am very grateful. His first advice to me was to train for the mountains any way I could and to practice at the archery range as often as I could.

If you have followed my blogs for the past 9 months, you know that bow hunting elk was on my 2012 Goals & Objectives list. In order to do that, I took my training pretty seriously. I hit the StairClimber at the gym, ran 3-4 miles every other day, and loaded my Badlands 2200 backpack with 100# of sand and hiked the hills around Southern California. The only issue with that was that I was hiking at sea level or only slightly above it. My hunt was to take place at 10,000 feet or higher. See the issue here? Building up my leg strength and charging up my lungs was a priority. I stuck with it for a very long time until two weeks before my departure date I was hit with a nasty cough that just wouldn't go away. I tried hitting the gym a few times only to find that I needed to rest. So, instead of pushing myself too hard, I rested. I was not about to miss out on hunting elk this year due to a cough!

I had also been practicing weekly with my friends Brett and Brandon. We were religiously shooting from 60 yards out each time and moving in to 30 yards. From time to time we did move in to 20 and 10 yards, but for the most part we wanted to hone our skills at longer ranges. I had no idea what ranges I might have to shoot at in Colorado and I knew the steep angles could come into play. Practice was key for me keeping proper form, muscle memory and my confidence high.

Leaving for Colorado:
After renting my SUV and getting a free upgrade to a larger vehicle, I made my way home and loaded up my gear. It took surprisingly less time to load up as I had done a good job of sticking to my gear list and planning everything out. The Boy Scout in me likes to be prepared for all situations. You'll find out later on that this would be a hidden blessing.


My gear right before it was carefully placed in the SUV.

Instead of stopping for food, I had decided to make pack a lunch and who better to help me than my future-archer, Riley. My daughter was more than happy to help me make some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for my trip. Riley not only wanted to help, but she makes a mean sandwich, too! Best sandwich I've ever had on a hunting trip. (I was sure to inform her of that, too.) A few last minute preparations and I was ready to get a few hours of shut-eye before heading out. Falling asleep turned out to be easier than I thought.

Needing the snooze button was not an issue as I was ready to hit the road with the first buzz of the alarm. After hugging and kissing my wife goodbye, I hit the road at 3:00 AM in order to make the 12-hour trip to Colorado. I left early because I wanted
to be at camp before darkness fell. The further from the city I traveled, the more beautiful the scenery became. The deeper I made it into the open country a peacefulness was slowly coming over me. I was ready.

The sunrise was absolutely beautiful.
Boredom in the SUV lead to this gratuitous 'self' shot.
The terrain through Arizona was magnificent, colorful and a nice change.
The smog cloud was left far behind and my lungs filled with fresh, clean air. It was heavenly to breathe such clean air once again. Knowing I would be a bit tired and foregoing my normal coffee routine, I drank a few cans of an energy drink for a little caffeine boost along the way. I quickly learned that two cans is my limit as a headache started to develop as I drank my third can. That ended that! Fearing dehydration and altitude sickness at the higher elevations, I was sure to drink plenty of water after that. The drive was a long one, but it only took me 10.5-hours to make it to Cortez, CO instead of the predicted 12-13 hour trip. A brief stop at the local Wal-Mart and I had my Colorado OTC Either-Sex Archery elk tag and license in hand. It was finally going to happen!

Arrival in Elk Camp:

Eddy and I met up a short time later and I followed him to camp. This wasn't your ordinary, everyday camp that I had expected. On the contrary, Eddy had set up a canvas wall tent complete with wood stove and had plenty of food waiting. I had planned on living on Mountain House for five days, but he would have none of that. 

Elk Camp 2012.

My rental car had been washed prior to my trip and I thought it was hilarious that when I got out to check out the area it was bathed in dirt. That's the way an SUV SHOULD look! 

Eddy's brother Gabe was also bow hunting elk and was in camp with us. I learned through Eddy that the day prior to my arrival, Gabe had encounters with four different bears while hunting solo. That gave me a bit of a chill and I was glad I brought my bear spray, although I hoped I wouldn't have to use it.

As Eddy and I relaxed by the fire and talked hunting, a mule deer fawn wandered around camp. We couldn't see the doe, but searched anyway. During our search, two bow hunters emerged from the forest and we asked them about their hunt. They mentioned they hadn't seen anything, had only heard one bugle and were on day four of a seven day archery hunt. They were worn out and seemed very discouraged. We wished them well and they ventured off to meet up with their ride off the mountain.

At dark, Gabe arrived back in camp after a day of hunting with no news of a kill. Eddy cooked us up a nice dinner of beer brats and chili-con-carne while we discussed plans for my first day of bow hunting elk. We would need the extra calories not only for the next day hunt, but also to keep warm throughout the night as the temperatures rapidly dropped into the 30's. With the dry air, cold temperatures and my air mattress going flat throughout the night I was quite restless. I am sure it also had to do with the fact that in less than eight hours I would be setting foot on a mountain in search of elk. The mountains that the elk called home. Little did we know how quickly things would transpire on Day One of my Colorado elk hunt.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Proud Bowhunter - Sharing the Passion

Here is my latest blog post for PSE Archery on the PSE Blog:

Hunting has been in my family for as long as I remember. My dad and brother are the two best hunting partners a guy could ask for. We would spend all year discussing the previous year, the weather, where to place stands and when October would arrive so we could get in the woods. Sure, we hunted for small game and turkey, but the animal we most desired was the whitetail deer. I took it for granted, until I moved 3,000 miles away.

Where I grew up in New York State everyone hunted. When I moved to California that all changed. It was a new place with new friends who didn’t understand hunting. Then married a woman who doesn’t care for hunting, but she appreciates the passion I have for it. I am a proud bow hunter and I am not afraid to share it.

I have actually made some great new friends through bow hunting in California. Some of the guys are my new bow hunting partners. Every week we hit the archery range to practice and talk about the upcoming archery seasons and what we can hunt. I look forward to it each and every week.

Now that my daughter is three and a half, I have started sharing more and more of the outdoors with her. I have never hidden the fact that I hunt, nor will I be ashamed of it.


You can read the rest of the post over on the PSE Blog.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Important California Bear Tag Validation Changes

While perusing the web this morning, I found an interesting update to the bear tag validation procedures for 2012. The California Fish and Game Commission has updated the regulations. They have amended Sections 365 and 708.12 for bear hunting tag validation.

This is an extract from the regulation amendment. If you want to read the entire document, please go here. 

Section 365, Title 14, CCR is amended to read:
§365. Bear.

(d) Validation of Bear Tags:
Only department employees may validate bear license tags (This provision supersedes section 4755 of the Fish and Game Code). Bear license tags shall be countersigned by a department employee before transporting such bear except for the purpose of taking it to the nearest person department employee authorized to countersign the bear license tag, on the route being followed from the point where the bear is taken. If department offices are closed, the bear tag shall be validated within one (1) business day of transporting the bear from the point where taken.

This is good news as it gives additional time to successful bear hunters to get their tag validated. Most offices are closed on the weekends and with so much area to cover, it can be very difficult to get a warden out to your location in a timely manner. This should help many hunters, but keep in mind that as far as I understand it, you still have to call and attempt to get a warden or biologist to your location to validate the tag. Can anyone correct me here?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Bowhunting Roots Grow Deep in NY

My latest post for the PSE Archery blog. Many of you already know this, but for those who don't it's a good way to get to know my background in bowhunting.

My bow hunting roots were set at an early age in Western New York State. It should come as no surprise that I chose to become a bow hunter because of my dad. I loved being outdoors and so did he. When he would go hunting, he’d take my brother and me along with him, and often we’d get a chance to shoot at a squirrel or two. He taught me to shoot a bow when I was nine years old with an old fiberglass longbow with wooden arrows. He taught me how to shoot, care for my equipment and the safe practices that must be maintained as an archer.

My brother and I were extremely fortunate growing up. Being raised on a farm, we would always have an ample supply of straw bale to hold our targets and we would constantly make up different games to improve our shooting and have fun. Whether it be saving a train from robbers or pretending we were Robin Hood, we would always have fun.

The first shot I ever took on an animal with a bow was when I was 10 years old...


You can read the rest of the post over at the PSE Archery blog.

Friday, September 14, 2012

An Experiment in the World of Jerky

Saving a few dollars here and there is what has allowed me the pleasure of hunting elk in Colorado this year. It has taken me a while to save up enough to do it, but the effort has been well worth it to me. Along with tucking money away, I have been working on some DIY projects and one of them has been making my own jerky for my trip. I was very fortunate in my endeavor, too. One of my co-workers and I were talking about jerky and dehydrators when he offered one up for me to use. Virtually brand new and with ten usable trays how could I say no? I had saved even more money due to the kindness of a co-worker. In return, I explained I must use him as a guinea pig to test out the jerky. He ever-so-willingly obliged.

With plenty of venison to left to eat up and my need for some jerky, I took out a large vacuum sealed bag of whitetail from last year. I am talking somewhere around twelve pounds worth of lean protein. I also had five pounds of elk burger and used that as well. I contemplated picking up a jerky gun for the ground meat, but I didn't want to spend the money I had just saved, so I came up with a different plan.

All of the recipes are homemade concoctions of things I like and wanted to try. The ground meat I marinated in Camp Dog Cajun Seasoning, a little brown sugar and some Worcestershire sauce for 12 hours. I left out any soy sauce because I wanted a little less sodium in the meat. For the sliced venison on day one I tried two different things. First recipe was black pepper, brown sugar, chili pepper, some onion powder and Worcestershire sauce. The second batch was with Camp Dog and Worcestershire sauce. For the ground meat, I drained off any excess fluid and then placed some hot dog sized rolls on wax paper. With a second piece of wax paper I pressed out the meat until it was a quarter inch or so thick. After spraying each tray with non-stick spray, I placed the meat on each tray and inserted them into the dehydrator.

I placed the dehydrator on my balcony so my wife wouldn't have to smell the aroma and to keep it away from my garage so my clothes wouldn't stink. I set the knob to 'Jerky' and let it go for eight hours. For most of the meat eight hours was right the right amount of time, but some had to go for an extra hour. Tasty dried meat and lots of it? Success!

The next weekend I tried a different method. The previous recipes were wet recipes. I followed up with dry recipes. For the third and fourth recipes I sliced the meat about a quarter inch thin, some a bit thicker, and patted them dry. I then laid them out in a glass cake pan and rubbed in Camp Dog and a little extra salt. Screw the sodium, it needed a bit more! The second dry rub was black pepper, garlic salt, and some cayenne pepper. I rubbed each piece of meat, flipped it over and rubbed that side as well. A layer of foil, another layer of meat, another rub, and repeat. I placed the pan in the refrigerator for twenty four hours to marinade.

The next day I placed the dehydrator on my balcony, turned the knob to 'Jerky' and let it go for eight hours. After eight hours I had a few bags of packable snacks for hunting trips!

I wound up with plenty of jerky and brought in two big bags for my co-worker. He loved it! I mentioned that I had left out the soy sauce and he said he thought it tasted fine without it. I thought it was pretty darn good, too! I've made jerky before using a jerky gun with the kit spices. I have also made homemade marinades based on other recipes and while they came out great, but this was my first shot at doing it on the fly. 

All in all I think it came out great! Some of the meat needed a little tang, so I added some Worcestershire sauce inside the bag and let it soak into the dried meat. It was perfect! Some was spicy, some was peppery and all of it is just plain GOOD! There is plenty for my trip and for me to share with my hunting buddies. I saved a ton of money just by putting some thought into it and doing it myself. The time it took to do it wasn't even much of a factor as most of the time was prepping the meat. Both batches combined probably took two hours. The dehydrating time doesn't count as I was able to do plenty of other things while it was drying out.  Either way, it didn't take long to make myself some healthy snacks for the season.

Dang it, now I am hungry.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Remedies for Curing Sickness

Sickness shows itself in many forms. Usually for me it's in the form of my thoughts constantly being funneled into a mind-tornado of bowhunting and anything outdoors. There are daydreams about maps, water sources, hiking, etc. You all know what I am talking about. On the reality side, it can also take shape in the form of allergies and I hate that side of being 'sick' because it makes you feel run down and blah. Up until last year I had no allergies, but for some reason the smog out here or me getting older has allowed me to be susceptible to pollen and dust. Perfect timing as it hit me just two weeks ago, right during deer season and prior to my Colorado elk hunt. Are you kidding me? Really? My wife and I like to call that 'Average Luck' and it seems to happen to us often!

For over a week I thought I just had a cold and that it would clear up eventually. I started to feel better and them WHAMMO! it hit me again. A trip to the doctor revealed that I seem to be allergic to tree pollen and it just so happens the trees are full of it right now. Lucky me!! A few medications were given to me and I am starting to feel better. Thank God for medicine! Sick or not, the gear testing with my daughter is making me feel better every day. She definitely approves of the Browning Yellowstone sleeping bag!

Part of the problem with feeling like crap is that my desire to blog was waning. I don't like that at all!I love to write and I had multiple ideas for posts, but after sitting in front of a computer all day, all I wanted to do when I got home was rest. I knew I needed to get back on track. Some gear testing with Riley, a trip to the archery range and then the gym helped me focus once again!

Every few days I have been talking with Eddy in Colorado regarding our upcoming hunt and the elk movement. He has always shared exciting news. We have discussed maps, water, and weather, but most of all we talk elk. That's the way to cure my 'sickness' of daydreaming about hunting. Last week, I sent Eddy a text message asking him a question and he didn't get back to me right away. The next day I get a call from him with an apology. He apologized for not getting back to me right away as his hands were full of elk meat!! Then Eddy sends me this photo.

Eddy with his 2012 Colorado 5x3 bull elk.

Now I can't stop thinking about hitting the Rockies and hunting elk! Eddy not only brought down this bull elk at 25 yards, but he also got himself a beauty of a mule deer a week or so prior. Great job, Eddy!

Sick or not, I have been curing some meat for my trip (check the blog tomorrow for the story on that) and testing gear with my #1 helper. I will continue to sort my gear in my garage for my Colorado trip and get everything situated. I will fight these allergies and beat them. I trained too hard this year for me to allow some pollen to make me tap out. It's going to be one incredible trip for sure! I am sure of that.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Big Buck on the Trail Cam!

My old time hunting buds, my dad and brother, have been busy setting up tree stands and trail cams in NY. They have been putting in plenty of hard work over the past few weeks. Now, one of the things all three of us are guilty of is playing pranks on one another. It goes without saying that my dad is the ringleader and yes, we learned from the best.

A week or so ago, they set up a camera overlooking an open field. BJ went back and downloaded the images. When they started viewing them on the computer it was mostly empty field...after empty field... and then suddenly ANTLERS!

BJ started counting the points when he noticed something was off. On closer inspection he found that my dad had completely set him up. Normally this stuff would happen to me! You can imagine the pleasure I got out of knowing my dad was pulling this on my brother instead. Enjoy the photos!

Hearing the story of how this happened cracks me up every time I hear it. The short version is my dad, knowing my brother was going to be pulling the cards from a few trail cams, decided to head out and verify that the cams were working OK. Off the wall came his 10-point mount and he proceeded to 'walk' the deer in front of the camera. I am sure my dad was giggling like a little kid when he was doing this. Heck, I know I would be! 

Oh, and I can't forgot to share this gem!

Hope you all are getting good images on your trail cameras!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The SoCal Bowhunter Joins the PSE Archery Blogging Staff

It's been in the works for a while, but today I get to finally share it! PSE Archery (Precision Shooting Equipment) has asked me to be part of their blogging staff. Not only me, but also some other excellent bloggers with a passion for bowhunting. The PSE Archery blog will have some great articles from us and the rest of the PSE staff. You can read the PSE press release here.

The other PSE staff bloggers many of you already know!

Emily Anderson - From the Draw
Pedro Ampuero - Adventurous Bowhunter
Jared Bloomgren - PSE Blog
Will Jenkins - The Will to Hunt
Dustin Jones - High Country Bowhunter
Ainsley Beeman
and... ME! - The SoCal Bowhunter

Shooting a PSE compound bow for the past few years has been a blessing for me and I love how it performs. Some of the things I'll be sharing hunts, family involvement, and tips for the average bowhunter. You can read my first post over on the PSE blog here.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

An Interview with Steven Rinella, Author of Meat Eater

Yesterday I posted my book review of Meat Eater: Adventures from the Life of an American Hunter by Steven Rinella. Not only was I given the chance to review it before the general public, but I was also given the chance to interview Steven. I wanted to ask some different questions than you would normally hear in an interview. He was very candid and gave what I think are some great responses, but I will let you be the judge!

The SoCal Bowhunter: Steven, you and I have something in common. I was born and raised in rural farm-country of Western NY and then I moved out to Southern California only to be surrounded by buildings and masses of people. I know what my decision was, but why did you opt to move away from the wild and live in NYC?

Steven Rinella: The answer has to do with love and labor. My wife, Katie, works for a book publisher in New York. (That’s how we met, through publishing.) Also, I film a television show called MeatEater, on Sportsman Channel, and my production company is in New York. We’re out in the field hunting over half the time, and when we’re home we’re working on post-production. What cracks me up is that I hunt way more than my friends who live in places like Montana and Alaska. And if I didn’t live here and work in the businesses that I do, I wouldn’t be able to say that. 

 ________________ . . .  ________ . . .  ________________

The SoCal Bowhunter: Do you ever take anything sentimental with you when you hunt? Better yet, is there something that travels with you on each and every hunt you go on?

Steven Rinella: Yeah, I have a few sentimental things that I always carry around. An orange plastic coffee mug that my brother Danny found while we were camping on the beach and fishing for bonefish in Mexico for a month. I was jealous of that mug and he gave it to me. And a little ditty bag that came with the first water purifier that I ever bought when I moved out West in 1997. And I’ve got a weird little plastic bottle that was in my dad’s stuff when he died. I keep that filled with spice rubs in my pack, so that I can sprinkle a little on the meat of the animals that I kill. I like to eat these meals right away in the field; it’s my way of showing the animal that it will be used responsibly and with respect. 

 ________________ . . .  ________ . . .  ________________

The SoCal Bowhunter: In the book, you mainly hunt with a firearm. Do you still like the challenge of bowhunting?

Steven Rinella: Yes, I love bowhunting. The lack of bowhunting on MeatEater, the show, isn’t a reflection of how I feel about the discipline. It’s just that bow hunts don’t really work well for our shooting schedule. But I think we’re going to start filming more bow hunts in the future. Plus, there’s some good bowhunting action in my new book, Meat Eater: Adventures from the Life of an American Hunter.

 ________________ . . .  ________ . . .  ________________

The SoCal Bowhunter: When you film for MeatEater, how long is your average hunt schedule? Take the California Hog Hunt for example. How long we you hunting for?

Steven Rinella: We schedule anywhere from four days to a week or so for a hunt. The California hog hunt was on the short end of that. But as you’ll see in an upcoming episode, we managed to shoot an entire show in one day in New Zealand. That show involves a knife, two wild pigs, two scrappy little dogs, and an underground tunnel. 

 ________________ . . .  ________ . . .  ________________


The SoCal Bowhunter: Describe for me the hunt you still haven't been on, but hope you get to. From the game you are after, the weather, down to the gear you want to have on you.

Steven Rinella: I’m waiting patiently for a good chance to hunt grizzlies in interior Alaska during the spring with my brother Danny. He’s an Alaska resident, so I can do that hunt without a guide. It’ll be in the Alaska Range or the Brooks Range. We’ll be on skis, covering a lot of ground and glassing a lot of valleys. I’ll be traveling light. It’ll be cold and sunny. I’ll spend my last night in the mountains huddled beneath a thick bear hide while eating roast grizzly backstrap and heart. Makes me hungry to think about it. I can’t wait!

 ________________ . . .  ________ . . .  ________________


The SoCal Bowhunter: Steven, I humbly thank you for answering my questions and I hope we cross paths at some point in the near future. If you are ever in the Los Angeles area and need to hit the wilderness, give me a call. It was a pleasure reading your book and I will bet there will be many more out there who will savor every one of your stories and yearn for more.

Steven Rinella: Thanks for the opportunity. I appreciate your thoughtful questions. Best of luck to you and your readers.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Book Review: Meat Eater by Steven Rinella

When I get together with my dad and brother at hunting camp, a.k.a. my brother's house in NY, there is one thing that occurs every time. We tell hunting stories. We reminisce and you can almost see our necks swell from the stories of bucks of yore. Sharing these stories make us feel good, keep us sane, and make us smile. Hunting stories are great and sharing them keeps the memories alive! It helps us feel alive as well.

Another way to tell a story is through video and that is how I was introduced to Steven Rinella. As a hunter and writer, he was the center of The Wild Within on the Travel Channel. His new show, MeatEater on The Sportsman Channel, is also a great show. I can honestly say that when his frst show aired, I wasn't sure what to expect. It turns out that Steven is a dedicated hunter who doesn't think he is better than anyone else and from what I can gather is a pretty darn good cook.

Steven took his background in writing and wrote Meat Eater: Adventures from the Life of an American Hunter. In the book, he shares his life as a hunter. There is hunting and trapping and the relationships he forged along the way. How he holds his brothers high on a pedestal and lives to be in the outdoors. His words are a collection of adventures that show humanity and a dedication to the hunt.

Now, it's no secret that I hold hunters on television to a higher level, especially guys like Steven Rinella. I have scrutinized he and his shows before on my blog. There was the time I challenged his hunting ethics and another time where I highlighted a safety issue in his archery set up. Now before you burn me at the stake, I make errors like everyone else. I just feel that when you share hunting experience with the public via a television show, you should take great care with what is shown. Wouldn't you agree?

In getting back to the review, overall I think Meat Eater is an excellent read. Steven shares his adventures, mishaps and success in a very honest way. The stories are captivating and the side notes he regresses to are either great stories unto themselves or recipes I must try. Steven not only has a great way of sharing, but he has a sarcastic side that is brought out in the book. I appreciate that in someone and I am glad he shared that side of himself.

Steven takes you back to his roots through an almost historical record of how he learned to hunt, fish and trap. The tales of battling having to go to school, the weather or posted property brought back many memories from when I was young. Steven and I have something in common in the fact that we moved from the country where we could hunt and fish as much as we liked to a big city (he to NYC and me to LA). Now we work our tails off to get into the outdoors, to hunt and fish, and we love the challenge.

Here is where I am sure I will stand out among my fellow hunting bloggers and book reviews. In Meat Eater, I do feel there was bit too much emphasis placed on killing animals for profit and the take of animals out of season. For a first time hunter to be reading this, I feel they might get the wrong idea and think it's OK to start plugging away at anything that moves. Sure, this is where my own personal background comes through, but my family hunted for the meat. We also hunted to take care of nuisance animals that would hinder farming in some way. Anyone who knows me knows how much I despise poaching. Reading certain portions of this book did anger me. The discussion of 'camp meat' is a good example. The illegal poaching in California infuriates me and the fact that poachers destroy our deer populations around them for camp meat is why. There have been many other instances regarding poaching that I have been very vocal about and I will not shy away from it.

Despite my opinion above, I really enjoyed reading Meat Eater. I was drawn into it. I felt at home with the writing and family dynamic. I also like the way Steven rolls out a story. The way he gives the background of a certain situation and just tells it like it is, or how some of the stories give life to other stories of their own merit and then back again to the original point. While it may seem a little ADD and annoying to some, I felt it was exactly how many of us share our stories with one another. We start one story that branches off on a tangent and a new story is created.

There is something to be said for a guy who fills his freezer with the animals he kills with plans to serve them up as dinner in the future.  Steven hunts for his meat in the outdoors and not in the frozen food section of the supermarket. I admire and respect that in any hunter.

Even with my scrutinizing and acute opinions tossed in, I definitely recommend reading Meat Eater. It will both fill you like the warmth of a good scotch and chill you to your core like an ice bath in December. It is an open invitation for everyone to see a hunter as more than just a killer. I can almost guarantee that if you are a hunter or fisherman, Meat Eater will keep you entertained. If you aren't either one, it will be very honest about hunting and will not bore you. Pick up a copy (on sale staring today), read it and judge it for yourself.