The 3 Books That Convinced Me to Start Hunting

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Hunting doesn’t run in my family. In my late 20’s, even though I lived in Michigan at the time, I still didn’t have any friends that hunted. That means there was nobody to convince me to give it a try. No one was there to talk me into or bring me along just to watch. Nobody offered me a meal from an animal they had killed, so I had no real reason to start hunting. Except a little urge inside of me that wouldn’t go away.

I ventured over to the local library. I read and listened to a few books about hunting, eating wild food, the health benefits of wild game, and the adventure that comes along with it all. After just a few short books, I was convinced hunting was for me. After all, my last name means hunter in German. I guess I was born for this. Here are the three books I read that convinced me to give in and give hunting a try, that took me from oblivious to first my kill in about 5 months (small game, but still game).

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Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast

Hunt, Gather, Cook, by Hank Shaw, is an inspiring book for would-be hunters. It’s what convinced me that I wasn’t too old to start hunting. While Hank explains that he grew up fishing and foraging, he didn’t start hunting until “late in life.” He describes his journey into hunting, how odd it seemed, and how long it took him to become proficient.

It’s funny to think of Hank as a novice hunter, since today Hank literally writes the cookbooks for hunters and anglers, but the book I’m talking about is his first book, published in 2011. It’s less of a cookbook and more of a primer on the entire world of wild foods and why we should pursue them.

He shares the complete picture of harvesting your own food and how hunting for meat is only part of that. Because Hank is a cook, he values ingredients. He also forages for wild edibles, fishes, and even gardens so that he can empower his true passion; cooking.

If you’re a hunter looking to expand your definition of food harvesting, give this book a read. You may find yourself scouting for mushrooms just as fervently as you scout for turkey tracks.

The Meat Eater

We all know about Steven Rinella, his show, and maybe even a handful of his books, but because this book, The Meat Eater: Adventures from the Life of an American Hunter was originally released in 2012, there’s a chance you may have missed it.

The book is full of the stories that brought Steven from small-town Michigan to where he is today. It’s the dirty, yet inspiring details of what it’s like to actually pursue hunting as a passion. Out of the three books on this list, this was the one that was the hardest to put down. It’s a proper story, not a “how-to” or a cookbook.

In the book, Steven shares about some of his most unique and difficult hunts that he’s ever been on. These are raw, rugged stories of adventure that have you picturing yourself in his shoes. And as a result, you hope that one day you’ll be chasing sheep in the Alaskan mountains.

Steven’s book helped me realize that hunting can be a combination of my many different interests, such as travel, camping, backpacking, paddling, conservation, and coming home with ample amounts of free-range meat. While I’m careful not to idolize any one person or compare myself to them, I am hopeful that I can have my own adventures this grand, in search of an animal that becomes something much more than a meal, but also a story to share that would inspire others.

The Carnivore Code

I heard Dr. Paul Saladino on a podcast talking about how a strict carnivore diet provides us all the nutrients we need for a healthy diet. That’s right, no need for veggies, whole-grains, or anything else we typically gorge on when it comes to the Standard American Diet (SAD).

Upon hearing this, I was instantly intrigued and got his book, The Carnivore Code. Since it’s written by a doctor, and is highly scientific and medical in nature, I’ll admit that much of it went over my head. He describes that the diet that our ancestors ate would have been primarily that of a carnivore. As in, they only wanted to eat animals, nose to tail. But because meat wasn’t always a guarantee, they ate plant-based foods to survive, until the next successful hunt.

He throws conventional knowledge on it’s head as he describes how so much of the foods that we think are healthy, such as fruits and vegetables, are actually bad for us. Dr. Saladino believes we can live longer and stronger if we ditch the plants and embrace the carnivore within. Because I now enjoy eating a mostly carnivore diet, it would be awesome if I can begin sourcing my own meat. While it’s ambitious to think that I, a hunting newbie, will start living entirely off the animals I kill, it’s a pleasant ambition that I am now working towards.

Perfect for the Hunter or the Not-Yet-Hunter

If you’re already an avid hunter, and have yet to read any of the books above, they are definitely worth checking out. If nothing else, the stories will be entertaining. You could also get these books for non-hunters, or those who are interested in hunting who haven’t quite taken the plunge yet. If you’re not yet a hunter, or are still new to the sport like myself, then these books are for you. They’ll give you the spark you need to keep going, keep learning, and to keep getting out in the woods.

Justin Jaeger

There is so much to do in this world, and quite honestly, I’d like to do it all. Or at least most of it. I didn’t start fishing until my late 20’s. Didn’t even touch a gun until age 29 when I decided I’d like to try eating squirrels. But now I love both hunting and fishing. My bucket list is incredibly long, as I hope to hike, camp, fish, hunt, dive, paddle, climb, and bike in dozens of states and countries.

One thought on “The 3 Books That Convinced Me to Start Hunting

  • June 26, 2021 at 4:36 am
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    I am looking for some good books about hunting. thanks for sharing the book’s name. I will read them also.

    Reply

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