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Heart and Blood: Living with Deer in America Paperback – September 29, 1998

4.7 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Cultural anthropologist Richard Nelson, who has worked among hunting peoples of the Arctic, offers a richly detailed account of North America's native deer species: Odocoileus hemionus and Odocoileus virginianus, or the mule deer and white-tailed deer. The latter, he writes, can be found across a range from the Canadian Arctic to Central America, and it figures in the folklore of countless native peoples. The white-tailed deer is also present in the lore of European America, lending it a talismanic quality. Nelson examines the role of the deer in several ecosystems, especially in some that are now disappearing, such as the Alaskan coastal forests, and he looks at deer's role in spreading Lyme disease. For hunters and natural-history enthusiasts alike, Heart and Blood is essential reading. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Cultural anthropologist Nelson explores the relationship between human and deer (white-tailed, black-tailed, and mule) in this well-researched, beautifully descriptive work. Using information gleaned from books and journal articles and interviews with scientists, farmers, ranchers, and homeowners (cited in an extensive bibliographic essay), Nelson first describes the life cycle of deer. The majority of the book explains the causes of deer overpopulation and its effects on the ecology of natural areas, agriculture, and urban and suburban homeowners. He discusses alternatives to culling the herds but concedes that hunting is the most humane, cost-effective method of reducing the deer population. He sensitively presents the views of both hunters and antihunter activists. Nelson lyrically describes his pleasure from observing and hunting deer; his obvious reverence for them will appeal to those who enjoy natural history as well as those who hunt.?Sue O'Brien, Downers Grove P.L., Ill.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; First Vintage Departures Edition edition (September 29, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679736867
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679736868
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,080,457 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
As a National Park Service Ranger and animal lover I've personally and professionally struggled with the issues surrounding deer management -- Bullets or starvation, which is more humane? Deer abundance or ecosystem biodiversity? Etc. etc. I've also read a great deal of literature spanning the entire HEART and BLOOD spectrum. This is the most accurate, fair, and comprehensive treatment on deer management I've ever seen.
Richard Nelson is the epitome of the professional anthropologist. He walks with as much confidence in the scientific and statistical world of biology/wildlife mgmt. as he does in the socio-political world of mass media, voters, and taxpayers.
The veteran scientist will regard the imagery in a few of his more vivid passages as "filler". These readers should be reminded that if the management of deer wasn't an emotional issue there would be far fewer researchers employed in such capacity. Hopefully they also realize that when Nelson describes tracking a food stressed doe in winter with "...at last I found her at the end of her tracks like a pencil resting in mid sentence," he didn't choose those words to impress an English teacher but to describe to the layperson exactly what it is like to pursue a starving animal.
On the other extreme the animal rights activist may try to skip over all of Nelson's nuances regarding deer behavior, physiology, and biochemistry. However, Nelson goes to great lengths to interject such information at a gentle rate and in very accessible terms.
With sincere unbiased reporting he describes opposing positions on classic bipolar debates.
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By A Customer on March 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book is the most thorough, most comprehensive, most graceful study of deer I have ever encountered. It deals with everything from the natural history of deer to the animal rights movement to different approaches to hunting and management. There's even a section that deals with the ways in which the film "Bambi" inextricably has altered Americans' views about deer. Nelson is honest about his own biases and convictions; he tells us that he is a hunter and that he believes in a strict ethical code with regard to his own hunting, a belief he learned while working as a cultural anthropologist with the Koyukon Indians in northern Alaska. Despite his strong beliefs, he is remarkably even-handed when dealing with the many controversial issues surrounding wildlife management in America today. I understand much better now why animal rights activists and wilderness preservationists do not always make comfortable allies. I trust this author; he has integrity. I loved "The Island Within" for capturing the mist-ridden world of an island off the coast of the Pacific Northwest, and I loved this book every bit as much. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in deer, hunting, and the animal rights and environmental movements. It is balanced, fair, and majestic.
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Format: Paperback
Nelson explores deer history, management, and views in a thorough and unbiased review. He takes a personal perspective on values of hunting which will make the hunter and nonhunter alike ponder the marvels of the hunt.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very informative book. Sometimes a little too many statistics for my taste. Richard Nelson speaks from a vast experience with the subject. I am glad I bought it, and will probably keep it for reference.
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Format: Paperback
Seriously, and I've met few non-fiction books that I can say that about. I'm not a hunter but I found this book quite engaging. Hunting is only one focus of the book. There is great appeal for readers interested in wilderness and conservation issues in the U.S. Remarkably detailed, intelligent, and colorful examination of deer across the U.S.; Alaska, Texas, Wisconsin, California, New York, etc. Very well-written; not a word is wasted and the whole is beautifully composed.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book because it was highly recommended in another book, THE BEAST IN THE GARDEN (about cougars). It is elegantly written, thus, the Beautiful part....and it is well researched and shows empathy and understanding for the various and often opposing views of "living with deer in America." Adds to the national discussion about hunting, diet, managing wildlife, respecting the mystery of the wild lives among, around (and within 'd say) us.
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Format: Hardcover
I have not read a book about hunting and hunters that so thoroughly and interestingly covers the ethic, anthropology and natural history/ecology of hunting. I would consider it required reading for all out-doors people right along with Aldo Leupold's Sand County Almanac. The information and ideas presented are well documented in the bibliography. Nelson weaves the knowledge and wisdom he has gleaned into the natural history of man in North America in a way that clearly shows the interdependent web of existance. He does not moralize on the subject. He does explain the ethics of good stewardship and how and why they have come about. He encourages hunters to maintain and improve on their understanding of the world and their part in the order of things.
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