I don't read a lot of books, but I will assert that I'm a damn good judge of a "great read" when it comes to anything related to the outdoors and hunting. That's because I spend an unhealthy number of hours belly up in front of a computer screen, consuming endless portions of outdoor media, most being of the written sort. When I opened an e-mail from someone at Random House—book-publishing giant—a few weeks ago, with an offer to receive a pre-release copy of Steven Rinella's latest work, I was all over it.
My familiarity with Rinella began while channel surfing last year, riding through the usual wave of pop-culture programming on my way to outdoor TV channels with mostly sub-par shows. I stumbled upon The Wild Within, Rinella's series on the Travel Channel. I was hooked, but only managed to catch a few episodes and then the series disappeared. So, I was especially excited when I began seeing previews for Meat Eater on the Sportsman Channel, which appeared to revolve around the same concept as The Wild Within: a hunting show about absorbing all facets of the outdoor experience while hunting and killing for sustenance. What a refreshing break from the fist-pumping, sponsors-in-your-face format held by the majority of hunting shows these days.
But quite honestly, I wasn't convinced that Rinella was a credible outdoorsman and hardcore, educated hunter. Having not known anything more about the guy, and not bothering to dig deeper, I pessimistically assumed he was just another wanna-be outdoor TV star who had found a unique angle. However, I'll take any break I can get from the other options, so I jumped on board as a fan anyhow.
On to the book review.
Rinella's new published piece is called Meat Eater: Adventures From The Life Of An American Hunter. I cracked the seal on the book while enjoying the plush amenities (Spanish TV shows and broken wireless Internet to name a few) of a somewhat sketchy city laundromat. It was extremely difficult to put down, and not only because it offered mental detachment from my surroundings. As a person who constantly longs to escape into the wild, out of the city, Meat Eater struck the core of my identity.
Rinella's personal accounts are delivered with distinct honesty and detail, revealing his authenticity as a seasoned American hunter. He's the real deal. He reflects on hunting and fishing adventures from his childhood up through his adult years, powerfully articulating each story in such a way that readers can tag along. For folks like me, that's important, because Rinella has taken part in a number of experiences that I undoubtedly will only get to taste through his written word.
Meat Eater is filled not only with hunting stories, but also hilarious footnotes and tangents that will force you into out-loud bouts of laughter. As a hunter, the book will trigger nostalgia that might have never come to the surface without Rinella's unique, down-to-earth ability to massage the memories out of you. And of course, as the title suggests, there is plenty of helpful advice for carnivores who seek expert wisdom about game care, time-tested recipes and even what "beaver tail" is really all about.
Perhaps most importantly, Meat Eater has serious potential to break into the mainstream masses and shed a positive light on hunting culture. Non-hunters, anti-hunters or simply those who have never been exposed to hunting will learn what the ultimate goal of hunting really is—killing for meat.
You can pre-order a hardcopy version of Meat Eater right here. It will be released Sept. 4, 2012.