Tuesday, June 26, 2018
Deer (Animal) Paperback – December 15, 2013 by John Fletcher (Reaktion Books)
As always in this series, before you buy note that it is not a natural history or a field guide. It has aspects of both, but is as much about deer in culture as anything. That said, this book is very nicely illustrated and quite well written.
Chapter 1 looks at the deer family--various species, some natural history, and provides a good sense of variety and environments in which the animals occur. Chapter 2 looks at survival, which some readers will like and some perhaps find slow. Chapter 3 looks at exploitation: deer hides, antlers, trophies, more or less deer as a commodity and a kind of raw material for human use. Chapter 4 looks at hunting and antlers. Chapter 5 describes the deer as symbol (think of books like The Yearling). Chapter 6 looks at deer in North America. Chapter 7 looks at deer and people today.
Along the way, the book considers a lot, including how the exploding population sees whitetails munching in people's rose gardens, some of the history as well as natural history (deer parks and such).
The Celts called them “fairy cattle” and the Greeks associated them with the hunter goddess Artemis, but for most people today, deer are seen as cute, like Bambi, or noble, like the Monarch of the Glen. They can be a danger when we're driving at night, or they can simply be a tasty venison burger. But while we may not often eat humble pie—an actual pie filled with deer organs—deer still appear in religion and mythology, on coats of arms, in fine art, and in literature ranging from The Yearling to Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia. In Deer, veterinarian and deer farmer John Fletcher brings together the cultural and natural history of these dignified animals.
Fletcher traces the evolution of deer, explaining why deer grow and cast aside their antlers each year and describing their symbolism in various cultures throughout history. He divulges the true story of Rudolph and Santa’s other reindeer and explores the role deer have played as prized objects of the hunt in Europe, Asia, and America. Wide-ranging and richly illustrated, Deer provides a fresh perspective on this graceful, powerful animal that will appeal to hunters and gatherers alike.