BAREBOW! book review

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Dennis Dunn must be quite the character, I should surely like to meet him someday. Dennis is one of the very few people to take all of the North American big game animals with a bow and arrow. The title of the book reflects that he did not use sights or a release even with the animals he did harvest with a compound bow.

This book is awesome! There is a nice bit of an intro to address the audience of non-hunters and I think every bowhunter should read it word for word, probably twice. There are many fantastic quotes and illustrations throughout the book, many of my favorites from Jose Ortega Y Gasset. I’ve got to get Meditations on Hunting onto my reading list.

Once you get through the warmup, each species gets it’s own section. They all start with a description of the animal, information about their behaviors and environment and other interesting facts. These offer a great primer to understand the locations, conditions, and why certain methods of pursuit might be more effective for a bowhunter. After spending a few pages getting to know the species, Dennis starts telling the tales of his pursuit of each species in chronological order.  Some of these pursuits are very short where success was achieved quickly. Other stories sound much more like my own where several trips are made before he’s able to harvest the animal he was seeking.

Taking a moment here, I think everyone who is new to bowhunting should read at least one of these volumes to appreciate that even a very accomplished bowhunter might take two or three long hunting trips over the course of several seasons in order to harvest an animal. This is the reality of hunting free ranging wild animals. I think many hunters today have watched a few too many TV shows where they need to punch 3 tags in 22 minutes of airtime.

Some of his stories are really incredible! Hazards of mountain weather, bush plane travel, dangerous animals, and troublesome hunting laws are well chronicled. There is a chapter in this book for every hunter, and if you are a generalist, you probably have several. After reading the entire thing end to end, I realized that I’d really like to hunt mountain goats at least once even if not successful, but I don’t ever need to put in for a sheep draw. Moose has gone WAY up my list, while muskox has completely fallen off. Reading about all species at one time really let me sort out which things I want to double my focus on, and what I can ignore all together.

After closing up all the 29 species, there is a bunch of really good advice for bowhunters. A lot about picking outfitters and interviewing guides. Some very practical advice about how to go about the Super Slam if you intend to.

All in all, part of me wishes this was the first bowhunting book I’d read. If I had 5 starts to give, it would get all 5 stars. Totally a winner.

While I purchased all volumes separately on my Kindle, I wish I would have bought this in hard copy available on his website. There is so much referenceable information in this book I’m still considering buying a hard copy inspite of the price and having already paid for all the electronic versions.

Two Buffaloes book review

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Two Buffaloes: The Life And Times Of A Professional Hunter was written recently by Vivian James, but there is more to that story. Lois Woodruff was a Professional Hunter back in “Old Africa” striking out on safaris and hunts throughout the mid-twentieth century. Around 1990 “Woody” apparently recorded a great many of his adventures, and Vivian transcribed them into this book.

Each chapter builds on his life as a hunter, then as a Professional Hunter. He describes the African plains and it’s abundant game beautifully. He doesn’t hold back on the bureaucracy of government, nor the abilities/inabilities of his clients and peers. This is a honest dialogue from a “take it or leave it” sort of fellow.  This is definitely a gun book, it’s all about the side by sides, and the only mention of bows are those being held by starving natives.

To me the best way to approach this book is that of one as someone who is ready to embrace the romantic side of old Africa. Think Roosevelt or Hemingway and then dive in! I enjoyed this far more than the books of Capstick or Ruark.

The voice of the book does sound genuinely autobiographical, it could be a verbatim transcript although I have not contacted the author to discuss or confirm.

In summary if I had a 5 star rating, this would get all 5 stars. I loved the authentic tone of the old Africa tales and I devoured it in a very few hours.

The American Feral Hog book review

It’s obvious that Tom Kidwell did a remarkable amount of research before publishing this book! It’s amazing that given how long humans and pigs have had this interwoven history that we don’t understand them much better!

After the forward by G. Fred Asbell, the first chapter gives a in depth look at how feral hogs reached the new world and where they readily took hold. I was surprised to learn that the place I hunt is very near a release location of 200 hogs in 1521. The chapter builds through time and covers many islands as well as Central and North America.

The next chapter is about hog habitat and although it covers a great deal I wish it could have contained more. Every bit of new information seemed to confirm something I’d suspected or observed first hand.

Chapter 3 is about hog attacks. I’ve seen very little first hand in the way of aggressive responses so it seems a little overly cautionary to me personally. The author must believe it’s important due to dedicating a chapter on it, I will say it’s a well researched chapter with many good case studies of attacks. The following chapter covers other dangers present when hog hunting and I found that to be a nicely framed topic.

I have to say, if you ever intend on bowhunting hogs, Chapter 5 on anatomy should be required reading for you! Many people could really up their odds on a clean kill by not only understanding the body structure better, but by also understanding their senses and intellect. Required reading for every bowhunter. Once the reader better understands their capabilities, the next chapter talks about what hunters must consider from their senses of sight and smell.

Chapters 8 and onward were all at some level interesting to me, and I’ve read each of them a few times over the past year or so. They seem to be mostly common sense, but it’s good info for the new hog hunter to have handy in this volume.

In conclusion, this is the best single source of information I have ever seen on feral hogs. I can’t recommend it strongly enough, and I have pushed many of my peers to take an evening or two and read it cover to cover. It’s a small commitment of time and it can only make you a better hunter!

Here is where you can get your own copy: The American Feral Hog on smile.amazon.com

When you use smile.amazon.com instead of amazon.com you get the same product for the same price, but you are allowed to select a non-profit to receive a small donation from Amazon. I am currently supporting the Michigan Longbow Association.

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Thom