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Heart and Blood: Living with Deer in America by Richard Nelson

In this almost encyclopedic swing through the world of deer, one learns greatly about deer?biological, ecological?but what's new is the information about us, "living with" these swift, gentle creatures.

"It seems that a beauty like the deer's should be rare and hidden. Yet of all the animals who inhabit North America, deer are among the most widespread and abundant."

There was a deer population crash at the end of the nineteenth century, from which they have amazingly rebounded. And there was a remarkable spiritual view of deer?the animal most essential to their lives east of the Mississippi?among the Native Americans. Nonetheless, the Indians were drawn into a thriving economy of buckskin and venison. " In 1750, when the Cherokee Indians (numbering fewer than 10,000 people) were probably overhunting for trade with Europeans, they sold about 25,000 deer hides per year."

White market hunters took it to a much higher level. "2.5 million pounds of hides, taken from about 600,000 deer, were shipped from Savannah to England between 1755 and 1773.... Around 1830, in midwestern states like Illinois and Missouri, venison sold for two or three cents per pound and deer carcasses for about a dollar, giving rise to our popular expression 'one buck'..."

Richard Nelson, author of Hunters of the Northern Ice , Hunters of the Northern Forest , Make Prayers to the Raven , and The Island Within , is a long-time Alaskan writer, who started his career as an anthropologist of native subsistence hunting. Very few people, if any, could have the perspective he brings to the life of deer in the late twentieth century. He is clearly fascinated with the ability of deer to move into and flourish in the suburbs, and the moral and political confusion their presence brings to well-meaning suburbanites. Dick gives us the various arguments, but comes down on the side of intelligent hunting as the only way to keep up a healthy relation with deer in this new world.

Nelson, wherever his research takes him?Fire Island, upscale midwestern suburbs, a Texas game ranch, the devils-club brakes of Southeast Alaska?never loses his eye, his alertness, and his love for each deer as a unique being. He has a bracing belief in the possibility of a continued spiritual relation to our most present wild creature, even as Americans, right now, are eating 130 million pounds of venison a year. Or maybe because of it. Hence the astounding title: Heart and Blood .


ISBN: 0679736867

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