Truly, we live in Deerland. Here in America we now have 30 million deer, 100 times more than just a century ago. They routinely disrupt entire ecosystems. They ravage our gardens and suburban landscaping, and every year they kill hundreds of us on our highways. No wild animal larger than a skunk or raccoon is anywhere near so numerous and widespread.
Still, deer are magical. Their mere existence makes the woods feel wilder. They signify far more to us than just meat, antlers, or a graceful, mysterious creature slipping through the shadows. In our collective imagination, they’ve become an archetypal symbol of something far greater.
Love them or hate them, we’ve all come under their spell. Indeed, our complex relationship with deer makes for a fascinating tale of love, obsession, and consequences. It’s a story that reveals much about America—and also about Americans. Yes, this is a story about deer. Most of all, however, it’s a story about us.
Welcome to Deerland.
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Advance praise for DEERLAND:
“Al Cambronne’s deep, clear-eyed, and sometimes unsettling story about deer, about the concept of wildness, and about the elusive search for balance in a world that by its nature abhors balance, is one of the year’s must-read eco-books. Penetrating and exhaustively researched, Deerland belongs on the shelf alongside Aldo Leopold’s 1939 classic Game Management. This wonderful book is about much more than hunting, though it is also very much about deer hunting in its many forms. In the end, Cambronne is after larger quarry—nothing less than a unified theory of humankind’s place in nature. A captivating and important book.”
—William Souder, author of On a Farther Shore: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson
“Deerland is an inquisitive and eye-opening tour through the history, science, politics, economics, and cultural quirks of our uniquelyAmerican relationship with the white-tailed deer. From ecologists and foresters to farmers, hunters, homeowners, and business owners, Cambronne introduces us to a fascinating cast of characters whose lives, like yours and mine, are inextricably linked to whitetails.”
—Tovar Cerulli, author of The Mindful Carnivore: A Vegetarian’s Hunt for Sustenance
“Whether you hunt them or watch them, love them or loathe them, you need to understand that deer are not just another wild species on the rural and suburban landscape but the single most economically important and problematic wild creature in our midst. This book tells you why in fascinating detail. Cambronne offers up a tour de force on deer history, biology, ecology, economics, and politics, and how the quest for deer and their antlers largely built America’s outdoor industry. He’s a good reporter, taking the reader along to learn from experts, then putting down what he learns in a wonderfully-written, comprehensive, balanced, often funny and important book.”
—Jim Sterba, author of Nature Wars: The Incredible Story of How Wildlife Comebacks Turned Backyards into Battlegrounds
“Deerland is an absorbing survey of both the depth and breadth of America’s obsession with deer, and of the biological, economic and sometimes lethal consequences of that obsession. From the multi-billion dollar deer hunting industry’s antler-mania to the surge in “adult-onset” meat hunters to the bizarre way we have transformed our landscape into ecologically unbalanced deer preserves, after reading this book you will never look at Bambi in quite the same way again.”
—Hank Shaw, author of Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast
“Fair-minded to a fault. . . . Even if you do not care about deer, deer hunting, or deer hunters, Deerland is a book well worth reading. Deer have become a major force in shaping the landscape. They also impact our economy: crop damage, collisions with deer, and treatment for Lyme disease add up to several billions of dollars annually. Al Cambronne has written a lively, thoroughly researched book on the way deer have shaped us and we have shaped deer.”
—Jan Dizard, author of Going Wild: Hunting, Animal Rights, and the Contested Meaning of Nature