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.

1 comment:

  1. Definitely glad I read this, and I agree that poaching out of season is despicable.