On the Hunt: The History of Deer Hunting in Wisconsin
By Robert C. Willging
320 pages, 141 b/w photos and illus., 8 x 9"
A Midwest Favorite from the Midwest Booksellers Association
"I remember the first white-tailed buck I ever saw. ... All I have to do is close my eyes to relive the moment. The image of that first deer comes back with special intensity in autumn, when the air is crisp and the leaves are turning. I was twelve years old at the time." -from the Introduction to "On the Hunt"
It's a long way from the suburbs of Chicago, where Bob Willging grew up, to a deer-hunting camp in northern Wisconsin. When Willging entered the wildlife management program at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, he realized that most of his classmates not only hunted deer, but seemingly had been hunting their entire lives. As Willging recalls, "they were incredibly, insanely passionate about it." Willging, who had begged his parents for subscriptions to Field & Stream as a boy, felt like he'd come home.
"On the Hunt" is the story of deer-hunting in Wisconsin, from the spear-throwing Paleo-Indians to the sportsmen of today. Meticulously researched by one of the state's most prolific outdoor writers, "On the Hunt" covers subsistence and sport hunting, deer camps, changing deer management policies, and recent developments and controversies, from human encroachment on deer habitat to CWD. Range maps and charts tracking annual herd populations and harvest goals complement Willging's engaging storytelling. Drawing from Department of Conservation papers, hunting magazines, newspapers, historic photos of classic deer camps, and the personal stories of hunters and deer managers, "On the Hunt" offers a fascinating glimpse into a distant and not-so-distant past, when the hunt joined men in almost mythical unity and bucks were seemingly larger than life.
An ardent sportsman with nearly 25 years of hunting experience, Willging understands that deer-hunting is as much about the smell of the woods in autumn and the meticulous cleaning of a fine rifle as it is about bringing home a whitetail. His story of how Wisconsin's own World War II flying ace, Richard Bong, squeezed in a few days of hunting while home on leave vividly illustrates the sport's powerful pull on hearts and minds. Willging also engagingly conveys the important tradition of the deer-hunting camp, from a humble two-man shack in Chequamegon National Forest (like the one he shared with his best friend, Steve) to the grand old Deer Foot Lodge founded in 1912 in Vilas County.
"On the Hunt" is perfect preparation for the avid sportsman's annual fall trek with friends and family into the woods.
Fans of "On the Hunt": be sure to check out Willging's newest book, "History Afield: Stories from the Golden Age of Wisconsin Sporting Life," which is now available!
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