EVENT: Texas Book Festival
I’m thrilled to be one of the many authors who will appear at this year’s Texas Book Festival. If you’re in or around Austin, TX on Oct. 27 and 28, I hope you’ll stop by!
EVENT: Book signing (and big buck contest… for the ladies)
This Friday (9/7) evening, I’ll be signing copies of my book at a great little store in downtown Bend. If you’ve never been to Cowgirl Cash, it’s an adorable boutique that sells vintage and new western wear, jewelry and other stylish miscellany. Come by during downtown Bend’s monthly Art Walk. You can visit with me, try on Tony Llamas and shop for antler art… all at the same time!
This event also marks the launch of the store’s second annual Women Only Big Buck Contest. Ladies who shoot a buck during Oregon’s rifle seasons should drive their deer head to the store so Rebecca (the owner of Cowgirl Cash) can measure your antlers, hear your story and share your excitement over the hunt. Top prize is a custom belt buckle and money to spend at the store. There are plenty of other prizes, too, so every lady who bags a buck this fall should enter.
Despite the name, this contest is not just about the size of the bucks. Just as the store celebrates Western culture, this contest is a way of celebrating hunting. Rebecca says she wants to support the women who “draw the tag, plan the hunt, sight the gun, take the time, rise with the sun, bring down the buck, enjoy the feast, and retell the story.”
It’s no secret that hunters are becoming more of a rarity in Bend. Rebecca told me that when she first had the idea for this contest, she was pretty nervous about how people would respond, so she didn’t do much to spread the word. At one point last fall, while the Bend Farmers Market was going on right in front of the store, a woman pulled up with a deer head in the bed of her pickup. Some of the veggie shoppers gathered around while Rebecca measured the antlers and listened to the hunter tell her story. People were curious, amused, impressed. There were no dirty looks, no stern words from offended vegans. Just locavores meeting locavores. Hey, we come in all forms.
Here’s one of last year’s contestants, Haley Rager, of Eugene, Ore.:
Several smart readers emailed me to identify the spider in my previous post: Araneus diadematus, also known as a cross orbweaver, cross spider or European garden spider. Apparently it not only spins a beautiful web, it also eats mosquitoes. A friend, in other words, not a foe. A hearty thanks to all the crowd-sourcers!
I’m not sure whether to be worried or… neutral. Anyone know what this is?
Daughters and sons
If you’re interested in hunting and haven’t read any Steven Rinella yet: You’re welcome. You are in for a treat, because Rinella is as precise a writer as he is thoughtful a hunter. He is also really, really hard working. He writes books. He writes articles. He hosts a TV show. He blogs. He’s a dad.
In his latest blog post, he reveals that he and his wife are now expecting a baby girl, and Rinella admits he is daunted by the prospect of teaching a girl to hunt with the same enthusiasm and proficiency as he plans to instill in his young boy.
It’s not that Rinella doesn’t want his daughter to hunt, but he can’t think of many role models for his daughter-to-be. His wife doesn’t hunt. And he’s rightly bothered by a disturbingly common modern hunting stereotype – the hypersexualized “sexpot huntress.” With surgically-enhanced breasts in the blind, the cultural tendency is to focus on the apparent contradiction of “hotness” and “hunting,” which diminishes, among other things, the truly important aspects of the hunt – a connection to the land, respect for animals, self-proficiency. He writes: “Hunters need to find it in themselves to invite women into the wild not as some obligation to their wives or daughters, but rather as a sacred engagement with their equals. The women in our lives need to be our hunting partners, our buddies.”
I face a similar challenge, just swap the genders. My husband and I are raising a son in a home where mother hunts, but father doesn’t. As silly as it sounds, I don’t want Sam to grow up thinking that hunting and butchering are for women only.
Fortunately, as someone who came to hunting as an adult, I understand that there are many different ways to fall in love with the activity. One of my mentors also learned to hunt as an adult, and he learned alongside his two young sons. He says it was not only a fun family activity, it was a unique equalizer in their father-son relationship. After all, how often do kids get to witness their parents building an entirely new skill from scratch? He recalled shooting at a duck and missing wildly, while his sons doubled over at their dad’s mistake. Though his sons are now grown, his mishaps get retold with pleasure during their annual father-son outings.
I still consider myself a novice hunter, and I’m sure I’ll have plenty more to learn when my son is ready to start hunting. Still, love the idea of Sam having a parent by his side from square one. I figure that leaves me about 11 years to convince my husband to take up hunting. They can complete Hunter Safety together and then we can all head out in the woods together, as a family.
Urban wildlife sighting
A velvet buck found some shade under my neighbor’s trampoline:
A note from a reader arrived at my office yesterday:
Of all the possibly controversial parts of my book – my murderous meat-eating, callous gun-ownership, blasphemy against the NRA, pinko support for wolves, elitist criticism of lead ammo – this person chose to take offense at a description of my hometown. Oh well. Probably best to stop at page 21, then. That page, heavily annotated, also happened to be enclosed:
I’ve received very kind letters and emails from readers, too. To respect others’ privacy, I won’t make public any signed notes.
I’m not sure why, but I’ve seen more butterflies than usual this summer. The other evening, I came home to find these Oregon Swallowtails mating on the front porch:
Be Prepared for Anything
My book isn’t a how-to, by any means, but that didn’t exclude it from this amazing display at Barnes & Noble:
I’m proud to see CALL OF THE MILD alongside titles such as “When All Hell Breaks Loose” and “The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive.”