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Whitetail Nation: My Season in Pursuit of the Monster Buck Hardcover – November 15, 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Every autumn, millions of men and women across the country don their camo, stock up on doe urine, and undertake a quintessential American tradition – deer hunting. The pinnacle of a hunter’s quest is killing a buck with antlers that "score" highly enough to qualify in the Boone and Crockett record book. But in all his seasons on the trail, Pete Bodo, an avid outdoorsman and student of the hunt, had never reached that milestone. Sadly, he had to admit it -- he was a nimrod.

Whitetail Nation is the uproarious story of the season Pete Bodo set out to kill the big buck. From the rolling hills of upstate New York to the vast and unforgiving land of the Big Sky to the Texas ranches that feature high fences, deer feeders, and money-back guarantees, Bodo traverses deep into the heart of a lively, growing subculture that draws powerfully on durable American values– the love of the frontier, the importance of self reliance, the camaraderie of men in adventure, the quest for sustained youth, and yes, the capitalist’s right to amass every high tech hunting gadget this industry’s exploding commerce has to offer.

Gradually, Bodo closes in on his target – that elusive monster buck -- and with each day spent perched in a deer stand or crawling stealthily in high grass (praying the rattlesnakes are gone) or shivering through the night in a drafty cabin (flannel, polar fleece and whiskey bedamned), readers are treated with a hilarious and unforgettable tour through a landscape that ranges from the exalted to the absurd. Along the way Bodo deftly captures the spirit and passion of this rich American pursuit, tracing its history back to the days of Lewis and Clark and examining that age old question – "why do men hunt?"

Two Top Five Lists from the Author of Whitetail Nation

The Five Most Useless Deer Hunting Accessories:

1) Electric socks. For some reason, these socks that contain wires that are "heated" by a puny, rectangular 9-volt battery in a cheap orange vinyl holster still appear on shelves and store racks (albeit mostly in out of the way "general store"-type establishments), and they still do nothing to keep your feet warm.

2) Knives and other tools with a camo finish . Drop your knife in the woods. It has a camo finish. Retrace your steps, looking for said knife. Any questions?

3) Rechargeable cordless spotlights. They work great, but the energy burn rate is so high that your million candlepower spotlight does a fair impersonation of that old-fashioned war club that used a conga line of four D-cell batteries to create a pale yellow glow in about, oh, two-and-a-half minutes.

4) Facemasks. Sure, the idea of a mask with cutouts for the eyes, nose and mouth is a good way to deal with bitter cold. But when deer hunting, you're supposed to have peripheral vision and decent hearing. Either cowboy up and deal with the cold or stay in front of the woodstove and watch football.

5) Laser Rangefinders. I may be in a minority here, but in my experience if you can't tell how far away a deer is, you shouldn't even think of taking a whack at it. And the specific qualities a potential target must have to return an easily acquired, accurate reading are such that you can miss the opportunity to take even an absurd, Hail Mary shot because you spend so much time trying to get a lock on that little speck of brown among the trees in the distance.

The Top Five Pieces of Great Gear:

1) A five foot length of rope with a Prussic knot attached. Look this one up, folks, if you hunt out of a tree stand and are concerned with your safety. The typical nylon safety belt has plastic buckles and/or metal D-rings, which amount to a fair amount of weight and a lot of noise. A simple, thick, nylon rope with a sliding Prussic knot, usually of a smaller-diameter cord, is the most versatile safety belt you can have; it weighs next to nothing, and makes no noise.

2) Portable tree stand umbrellas. These neat little devices screw into the tree above your stand, and spread out much like a regular umbrella to provide a canopy in case of rain. They may look silly in the catalogs, but they actually work, and can save you a fair amount of misery if you're determined to stick out a passing shower.

3) The Claw rifle slings. I imagine others are also making this type of sling now, but anyone who's ever had to deal with a rifle sliding around on his shoulder will appreciate the way this sling, made of some sort of rubber/plastic, actually clings to your shoulder. I'm not sure why it's so much better than the nylon, neoprene, or leather slings, but it is.

4) Bushnell Backtrack GPS. The problem for most hunters is that their time in the field is limited. Therefore, they don't use your typical hand-held GPS frequently enough to remember how to operate the danged thing. If you've ever gone into the woods with copies of a GPS user's manual's relevant pages in your pack, you know what I mean. Bushnell has simplified the concept with a very small, very light GPS unit that will save and get you back to any of five places you choose to mark.

5) Bow sling. If it takes you any amount of time to get to your tree stand, or if you like to poke around the woods, setting up on the ground in a variety of places, you know what a pain it can be to carry a compound bow with attached quiver by hand. The simple, cheap bow slings made by various companies enables you to carry the bow the way you do a rifle, and as snap shots while bow hunting are rare, you'll appreciate the convenience without having to worry about lost opportunities.


"Fun, honest, and humble, Pete Bodo is the guy you want telling stories around your campfire. He’s also the perfect guide to the obsessives of the Whitetail Nation, where the size of the bucks is matched only by the dreams about them. This book is for anyone who chases deer from the heights of a tree stand or the depths of the most comfortable armchair." – Mark Obmascik, author of Halfway to Heavenand The Big Year

"This book has everything you could want from a hunting story: style, humor, suspense, and lots and lots of antler. Pete Bodo's Whitetail Nation is easily the best thing I've ever read on deer and deer hunting, and I've read a pile of it." – Steven Rinella, author of American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon 

"An unabashed predator in the 21st century, Pete Bodo is a funny, warm and honest companion on this fascinating romp through whitetail nation. His lucid descriptions of the landscapes he traverses and his poignant expressions of the odd spiritual revelations that come with killing ensure that this is no ordinary hook and bullet story." – James Prosek, author of Trout: An Illustrated History and The Complete Angler

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (November 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618969969
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618969968
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,575,840 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert E. Rodman on December 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover
What I enjoyed most about the book was how he went into to all the different aspects of, and things involved in, deer hunting. Discussions on the different rifles, calibers used, bow hunting, brief history of Cabelas, deer scents, camo patterns, deer management, Boone and Crocket, etc. this was all very informative and interesting. Also enjoyed learning about the differences in how people hunt in Texas v Montana v Pennsylvania. All in all a very interesting and informative read.

Must say I was surprised with the reviews that complained about profanity. There was very little (if any) profanity that I can recall. Should not be a concern at all to anyone considering this book IMHO.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I am no hunter, but all my relatives and their in-laws take to the stands in pursuit, and this book perfectly captures the spirit of the chase. There is no doubt that this is a first-person account, entertainingly well-written. The devotion to the chase reiterates the philosophy of all the hunters I have ever known, "Nothing is too good for deer hunting!" This book is such a fun read, it is nice to be able to have it during the off-season to extend the excitement until the next opportunity.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Since we live in Maine and my husband is a deer hunter, I purchased this for him as a Christmas gift. He devoured the book right away, and has read it a second time. He has loaned it to a friend who has a hunting camp 'up north', but will make sure to get it back. The story was very true to Maine deer hunting season. Great author.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
When my parents named me, they had the Paul Anka song in mind, but they underestimated my eventual interest in etymology and my fascination with my own moniker. As Diana is the Roman goddess of the hunt, I became fascinated with the idea of hunting and the outdoors. However, I never lived in a place that was conducive to pursuing this outside of the realm of the library until I became a resident of Louisiana, the "sportsman's paradise." After living here for over twenty years, I discovered a group of people who actually hunted (or attempted to hunt) on a variety of properties--some of which belonged to friends, some of which was public hunting land and more importantly (and ironically, the most trophy/meat producing) private and extremely costly lodges. With a borrowed rifle, I tagged along and learned, the hard way, the definition of patience while soaking up the beauty of the woods.

When I saw Pete Bodo's book "Whitetail Nation: My Season in Pursuit of the Monster Buck," I immediately thought of my journey into the forest primeval and wanted to relive it. Figuring that Bodo could and would explain more fluently the lure of observing and bagging one of the most beautiful animals on earth, I delved into this 250+-paged book and was not disappointed.

Of course, Bodo writes as a seasoned hunter with plenty of good hunting stories, which, by the way are second only in their preposterousness to the typical "fishing" yarn--meaning they can border on outright lies of which Pinocchio would be immensely proud.
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Format: Hardcover
I just finished reading this eminently entertaining book by Pete Bodo of Tennis writing fame. Pete is a larger than life New York City sports writer who thinks nothing of walking the upper West Side dressed in full hunting regalia. You would have a better chance of spotting an Ivory Billed Woodpecker, than to find a true hunting camo clad person on the sidewalks of posh, wealthy, & liberal upper Manhattan. I don't know Pete personally, but my good friend is his neighbor with children in the same school. My friend, Andrew, while a non-hunter, is continually fascinated by my stories of bow hunting in suburbia New York. He also tells me he often gets Pete to sit with known "Vegans" at school functions to enjoy the banter. So when Andrew handed me Pete's book, and explained their relationship, I dug right in.
It is the story of a typical East coast deer hunter that has shot numerous deer, but never a GIANT buck. In the year 2008, he decides to change all that and dedicate his season to that goal. His stories of the ensuing 2 ½ months are at times hysterical, maniacal, and deeply insightful. The book seems to me to be written for the non-hunter, to try and help them "get It" about our passion. It also touched on so many aspects of hunting here in the East and especially how it has changed over the past 10 years.
During the course of the season he hunts in New York, Montana, Texas, and Pennsylvania. His thoughts and observations are unique, deep and downright funny. He especially gives great thoughts on high fence hunting in Texas. The book opens years earlier, in Saskatchewan, where he has his first encounter with a buck of B&C caliber, the "Picket Fence". As he points out, any deer that gets a name is truly special.
I hope every deer hunter reads this book, and pass it to a non-hunter.
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