“Hunting is an addiction, and like the most powerful ones, you don’t develop it on your first, second or third taste. It’s strong stuff that demands patience and faith, and teaches you to embrace physical discomfort and the need to act from instinct, improvise and make quick decisions. And like a drug, hunting immerses you in an altered state no longer available to the civilized person in every day life. It heightens, sometimes powerfully, the sense that you’re a living creature up against the physical reality of the world. You discover a watchfulness in yourself, an ability to observe, size up, note detail.
For the hunter, nature ceases to be a scenic, impenetrable wall around the windshield of the car or outside the living room window. It becomes three-dimensional , a second home that you enter with a sense of familiarity. You live hard while doing nothing, at least not by our society’s standards. And it brings you face to face with the only other person usually out there: yourself” – Pete Bodo, Whitetail Nation
In reading “Whitetail Nation” the quote above is just one of many truisms that I came across that so eloquently expressed the exact feelings I have about my favorite pastime of chasing the whitetail deer. Whitetail Nation is the story of one man’s quest for a trophy buck and a nation’s fascination with the the whitetail and the culture that surrounds it. Pete Bodo has spun a tale of both hunting hilarity and suspense, while weaving in a history of the whitetail and the red blooded men and women that have chased them for years. The end result is an absolutely enjoyable read that will make you nod your head in agreement, shake with laughter and at times force you to pause and relive those highs and lows of your own seasons in pursuit of the monster buck.
I recently ran across Whitetail Nation at a local book store, and after reading the first chapter I knew I would be a fan. Author Pete Bodo begins by taking us along on his first big buck hunt in Saskatchewan, as the monster “Picket Fence” buck materializes and then quickly vanishes from right in front of Pete, later to return in his haunting dreams late at night. This encounter seems to fuel Pete on through the years, until in 2008 he decides that it’s time to really commit to getting his first real wall hanger. While being an avid whitetail hunter, you can tell throughout the book that Pete is somewhere between your weekend warrior and your whitetail freak. He’s not the type to shed hunt, plant food plots and glass velvet bucks all through the off season, but at the same time he is not the guy that sits on a log opening day and then calls it a season. In the end this makes Pete’s experiences more relatable to all spectrums of the hunting world, I think most anyone can relate to some part of his tale. Taking us along for the ride, Pete travels across New York, Pennsylvania, Montana and Texas, lugging an array of weapons and equipment as he explores both the woods for whitetails and the minds of fellow hunters. While his hunting expeditions are both interesting and entertaining, I may have enjoyed the look into the Whitetail Nation culture just as much. In Whitetail Nation Pete recounts the joys of opening day, hunting camp traditions and the incredible bond we have all formed with our fellow hunters. But at the same time he confronts many of the demons of our pastime, as he explores high fence ranches, poaching, the act of taking life and misses. Many misses!
I have certainly missed a few over the years, but Pete might have set a new record for most misses in one year. I’m pretty sure that over the course of this book, Pete had at least 6-8 misses on deer! That being said, he was still able to put a couple deer on the ground, although I can’t say whether they were of the trophy caliber he was looking for. Don’t want to ruin the surprise! In addition to the misses, Pete lost a little bit of credibility with me with some missteps in regards to general deer knowledge. For example, at one point he explains that a “snort wheeze”, is a call that a deer makes when it is alarmed and is about to run away. Not so Pete. But despite a few a misses in the field and in deer behavior, Pete has put together a truly enjoyable and educational tale that any avid hunter will take a liking to.
Whitetail Nation is a book that will transport you back in time to the best of your hunting days, the opening morning of deer season and the moment after taking a deer’s life for the first time. It will challenge you to think about our sport in a new way, open your eyes to strange new ideas and enlighten you with a history of whitetails and hunters that few know. But most importantly, Whitetail Nation will put a smile on your face and a cheer in your hunting heart. For that short time while enveloped in the story, you are no longer sitting on a couch, waiting out the cold weather, but rather a man or woman sneaking through the brush, full of hope and excitement as that buck of your dreams materializes. For a few short moments you are back out there again, truly alive and truly a part of the Whitetail Nation.
I would highly recommend you take a look at “Whitetail Nation”, by Pete Bodo. You won’t regret it.
To pick up a copy of your own, check out your local Barnes & Noble or Borders or buy online here.