Call of the Mild a compelling story about becoming a hunter
CALL OF THE MILD: Learning to Hunt My Own Dinner. Lily Raff McCaulou. Grand Central Publishing. 336 pages. $24.99.
Lily Raff McCaulou starts to question her relationship with her food not long after she moves from New York to Oregon to take a reporting job at a small newspaper.
The more hunters she meets, the more she realizes that hunting is just as much if not more about communing with nature and learning about animals and their habits and habitat as it is about actually shooting one’s dinner.
This question of whether one has what it takes to kill and prepare her own dinner has been posed by other authors, and she acknowledges in particular the influence of Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.”
She comes to hunting gradually and honestly. She starts looking at what being an environmentalist really means and in the process closely examines the symbiotic relationship between hunting and conservation.
Her reporting skills help readers gain a deeper and broader understanding of the complex nature of hunting.
She progresses from a beginner’s hunting safety class to women’s hunting weekends for birds and rabbits.
Her transition from non-hunter to hunter is accessible because she takes time to examine hunting from so many angles. She portrays the differences between the televised hunting shows and the reality of hunting. The latter can involve days, weeks or months of tracking without any killing.
During deer season, she barely sees any prey and never gets to shoot a doe or a buck. When she finally does bag a big game animal, she field dresses the elk and fills her freezer full of meat. Each time she pulls a package from the freezer, she thinks about where it came from.
McCaulou’s book is refreshing because she shares her frustrations and shortcomings as well as her triumphs. She is not a perfect hunter, nor a perfect person, neither does she pretend to be. Her human nature makes the tale that much more compelling.