My experience with hunting isn’t too far removed from that of Craig Heimbuch, the author of And Now We Shall Do Manly Things: Discovering My Manhood Through the Great (and Not-So-Great) American Hunt.
I grew up with a father and extended family who loved to hunt. In fact, there was nothing that most of them looked forward to with more eagerness. I’ve got a photo album with several pictures of various uncles dressed like bushes, preparing to take to the hills with bows and/or rifles.
It was not uncommon to hear arguments about the best way to scent yourself with doe musk to bring the bucks running to the rut, or how to replicate the odor of elk urine without making yourself sick.
I’ve been on a few hunts, but never took a shot at anything. I was never on a hunt where I got close enough to try.
But this is about Craig’s book. Craig’s funny, touching, and strangely familiar book. In the early pages, his father gives him a shotgun. My dad did the same thing with me on my 14th birthday, but Craig is 32 when this happens. As he puts it, “entirely too old” to get started with a firearm.
But he takes it because it’s one of his dad’s prize possessions and it means something to the man to give it to his son, however old and indifferent to hunting he is.
I’m not going to spoil what happens as Craig gets deeper into the world of hunting, but it’s a great story. More interesting to me were the thoughtful treatments of gun culture, ideas about manliness past and present, the relationship between fathers and sons, and the various points of view one can have about hunting.
I was familiar with Heimbuch’s journalism, and was happy to see that he easily slipped into the warm, humorous author of Manly Things. I’ve heard comparisons to the work of Bill Bryson, particularly the book A Walk In The Woods. I’m a huge Bryson fan and am not above reading a book just to confirm that it’s nowhere near as good as A Walk In The Woods. But this book is great. It really is.
I closed the book feeling that Craig Heimbuch seems like a person who would be fun to hang out and talk with. Many of my favorite books are just like this–the story can be good, the ideas can be provocative, but when I’m done I feel like I’ve spent some time enjoying someone’s company.
Craig, if you read this, how can I get you to sign my copy?
You can learn more about Craig here.