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On Friday, I posted a quick interview with Steven Rinella and mentioned his new book, Meat Eater: Adventures from the Life of an American Hunter. To frame this up I’ll go ahead and say it, I’m a pretty slow reader and rarely finish a book, especially hunting books. I enjoy hunting books, but really good hunting-related books are hard to come by. This is one of the few that I read cover to cover, literally, I even read the acknowledgements!
One of the reasons that Meat Eater kept me entertained is it’s really a collection of stories following Steven through his adventures as an adolescent chasing squirrels with a .22 and trapping muskrats to hiking miles and miles in pursuit of Dall sheep as an adult. The diversity of the stories along with the progression were fascinating to me. The other reason I had trouble putting this book down is how Steven portrays his experiences. Plenty of people have led similar lives or adventures as Steven, but very few if any can put those adventures into words the way that Steven does in Meat Eater.
Some outdoor writers can take an entire chapter to talk about a sun breaking over a ridge by describing how the light reflects off every leaf and describing every vein in each of those leaves. Those are the books I have a hard time finishing. Still, other outdoor writers are a little rough around the edges and tell it how it is, giving you too much of their own thoughts or opinions for you to experience what you are reading for yourself. Steven does an amazing job of striking the perfect balance between these styles. While reading the book I could picture where and how he was hunting and almost see what he saw without getting bored. Also, at several points he described a situation or experience allowing you to draw your own conclusion and would follow it up with the assertion of his own conclusion. Often times it was very blunt and to the point, which I appreciate.
Steven also comes at you with brutal honesty in Meat Eater. He doesn’t shy away from mentioning things he has done while hunting that he was less than proud of, some of which were illegal. He also illustrates some gray areas along the way and addresses some topics that I think most outdoorsmen have pondered. It was a relief to me to see that his thoughts were largely similar to my own and his honesty makes him extremely relatable. I guess that’s another thing I enjoyed while reading Meat Eater. Often people who’ve done as much as Steven make it feel like they’re almost talking down to you. While reading Meat Eater it was more like hanging out, drinking a beer and listening to him tell a hunting story.
To wrap this up, I think you can tell I really enjoyed Meat Eater. It’s simply a great collection of hunting stories that have been masterfully crafted. Steven’s experiences along with how he lays them out make it one of the best hunting books written in recent history. I would highly encourage you to buy a copy and give it a read. You can get it in hardback or for Kindle. If you haven’t read any of his material, check out the Meat Eater blog.
This article was orginally posted on TheWilltoHunt.com and is republished with permission.
Images courtesy The Will to Hunt