Matt Forney
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Shoot Deer: A Beginner’s Guide to Hunting Whitetails by Tim McMahon

shoot-deerHunting is another topic, like the Bible, that I should be better informed about. My dad and pretty much all the men in my extended family are hunters, albeit relative amateurs. But I’ve never gone hunting myself, partly out of disinterest, partly because I’d have difficulty pulling the trigger on a living creature.

Which is why I appreciated reading Shoot Deer.

The debut book from my friend TimShoot Deer is as comprehensive a guide as you can get when it comes to hunting deer. It covers everything from how deer live to how to buy and maintain a hunting property to the actual task of shooting Bambi and gutting her for a nice venison burger. If you have any interest in hunting, it’s a worthwhile book despite its flaws.

And the main reason it’s a great book is because Tim knows his stuff. While Shoot Deer’s breadth and depth of information makes it useful for hunters of all skill levels, novice shooters will benefit the most from the book. Tim breaks down every aspect of deer hunting in clinical, obsessive detail, from the types of weapons you can use to how to utilize your treestands:

The whitetail deer is named for the white underside of its tail.  The top of the tail is brown, like the back of the deer and white on the bottom.  When a whitetail is “spooked” it will run away with its white tail held straight up.  Other deer take this as a sign that a deer is running away from potential danger.  Usually a deer keeps its tail down so that the brown top will cover the deer’s white butt and be more camouflaged.

Shoot Deer spans fifty chapters, but the book is still a breeze to get through; Tim doesn’t waste your time, instead explaining what you need to do in as few words as possible. His prose can be overly dry at points, which as I’ve told him in the past is a bit odd because he’s a really funny guy in person. He does find the opportunity to slip in a joke every now and then, though.

Mainly, Shoot Deer is a great book because it deals with aspects of deer hunting that most people overlook. The most important aspect of hunting bucks and does is staying undetected, but there are a million and one ways that you can screw this up. For example, Tim goes over how you can scare deer away by doing something as simple as wearing your hunting clothing outside of your property, giving it the opportunity to pick up human scents that the bucks notice:

If you leave something that got you smelly, obviously you need to de-stink. For the most part not smelling mostly means not doing things that contribute to your smells. Don’t wear cologne, don’t use smelly shampoo, don’t pump gas the day you hunt, don’t eat food that makes your breath smell, and so on.

It’s those kinds of anecdotes that will really help you get your money’s worth out of the book. My other favorite factoid was on field dressing (removing the internal organs) of deer; deer meat that cools quickly is more tender than meat that cools slowly, which is why Tim advocates dressing the deer as soon as possible.

Shoot Deer only goes wrong into two areas. The first is the editing. Again, I know I sound like a broken record on this issue, but a book that people are expected to spend money on should be as perfect as possible. While far from unreadable, Tim’s prose has more typos than I’m comfortable with.

Also, what’s with the double-spacing?

My other issue with Shoot Deer is the lack of information on hunting laws. Tim writes mainly from a Wisconsin perspective, and the book is sadly lacking on information on game laws outside that state. This was probably a smart move from his perspective, given that each state has its own regulations (and those regulations are constantly changing), but if you’re looking for legal information, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

Aside from this, Shoot Deer is a fantastic resource for both the experienced and newbie hunter. It’s also worth a look even if you aren’t interested in hunting, as Tim provides a lot of fascinating insights into the hunting culture in America.

Click here to buy Shoot Deer: A Beginner’s Guide to Hunting Whitetails.

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