What do you get when you cross a brilliant Harvard graduate of French, Italian, English, Romanian, and Spanish languages with a passionate outdoorsman? A modern-day Renaissance man named Dennis Dunn. You will meet Dunn in the pages of his most beautiful book entitled BAREBOW! Published as a spectacular coffee-table book five years ago (and appropriately winning all sorts of awards shortly thereafter), this year the 103 stories became award-winning eBooks. The timing is perfect for a Father’s Day gift no matter which way your dad likes his books: digital or traditional paper.
The stories embrace the adventures over a lifetime of taking the Super Slam. Only a baker’s dozen have accomplished the feat of 29 species in North America by bow. Dunn, however, was the first by bow without the aid of any sighting instrument, guided only by instinct—hence the term “barebow.” While Dunn may be a purist, he only demands strict adherence on himself, not on others regarding tools afield or choices made on how to embark on their fair chase hunt. “I shoot purely instinctively,” shared Dunn. “I’ve never used any yardage sight-pins or a release–except for my fingers, even during those times when I did hunt with a compound bow years ago. In recent years, I’ve hunted only with a longbow or a recurve bow.”
Gun or modern bowhunters (I like my fiber optic sights on my bow, thank you) will enjoy the stories without admonishment. In fact, one of Dunn’s goals was that even non-hunters would appreciate his stories and I believe he hit that mark as well. The deep-welled conservation message is like a winding river that runs through it. Even a non-hunter would find BAREBOW! entertaining and engaging. Perhaps a non-hunter may discover how the legacy of hunting is fundamental to humankind. Some simply are hunters, through and through. Exquisite quotes grace the pages that are thought provoking, like one by José Ortega y Gasset, “the beauty of hunting is that it is always problematic.”
“The book is the real deal, full of outdoor passion,” shared Austin Kincaid of Oregon. Highlighted in OutdoorHub’s February story “A Bowhunting Beast.” Austin is a hunter who knows passion when he sees it. He and his new bride received BAREBOW! as a wedding gift. “I could really visualize everything in his stories, they are so full of detail, the kind of detail a true outdoorsman knows.”
As I dug into the stories myself (and in the spirit of full disclosure there are still many more for me yet to consume), I was drawn to the humility of the author and accomplished hunter. Dunn shared just as much about his failures and mistakes as much as successes. The learning curve was steep. The beautifully-written stories start in the late ‘50s and into the early ‘60s and run through hunt after hunt, species after species up to Dunn’s completion of the Super Slam in 2004. How fortunate for us that we get to ride along in the pages of BAREBOW!, a journey that spanned four decades. Dunn is now in his seventies, although you can’t tell by looking at him. He’s trim and fit from all his continued hard work afield.
Original artwork augments the uniqueness of BAREBOW! Father-and-son artists Hayden and Dallen Lambson created beautiful custom-made, full-color paintings as well as black-and-white pencil sketches. There are no photos of Dunn astride a dead animal with bow in hand. Not one. The artwork shows animals in their natural habitat. Dennis felt that was a subtle but important component in drawing non-hunters into BAREBOW! “I really want both hunter and non-hunter, alike, to enjoy this book,” he told me.
I can’t think of a better gift for your dad this Father’s Day. The rich language, colorful attention to detail, and exquisite storytelling await your father in the 500-plus pages of BAREBOW! You can purchase the paper version here or the digital eBooks here.
And here’s a treat for OutdoorHub readers. Starting in June, excerpts of Dunn’s stories from BAREBOW! will appear at www.OutdoorHub.com. Once a month you’ll have a chance to step into the adventures that take us, barebow in vicarious hand, along the journey with Dennis Dunn from Texas to Alaska and back again. Different species. Different dramas. Successes and failures. Stories of a young, novice hunter just starting out as well as stories of an accomplished, veteran fair chase archer. You’ll get to experience a little of the magic from BAREBOW! right here each month.
K.J. Houtman is the author of the award-winning Fish On Kids Books series, chapter books for eight- to 12-year-olds with adventures based around fishing, camping, and hunting. Her work is available at Amazon and local bookstores. Find out more at fishonkidsbooks.com.
Images courtesy Dennis Dunn