Al Cambronne’s new book, “Deerland: American’s Hunt for Ecological Balance and the Essence of Wilderness,” is more than a book.
It is also an idea.
The 244-page book published by Lyons Press, takes a good look at what we (hunters, biologists, politicians, deer viewers, feeders, vehicle drivers and equipment manufactures) are doing to, and for, Wisconsin’s state wildlife animal — the white-tailed deer.
Cambronne asks readers to think, consider and soul-search our love, and sometimes hate, for whitetails.
Unlike many wildlife and hunting books, this one is not a tome for preaching to the choir. There is no how-to chapter on how to grow bigger antlers, find a place to hunt, or which bow is best.
The chapter titles should open readers to new thinking — Darwin’s Deer; Feeders, Baiters and Plotters; The Deadliest Animal in North America; and Toward a Balanced Approach.
Hunters particularly, should awaken from their deep sleep when reading the question, "When does feeding deer become farming deer?" Or, "When do our deer become your cattle?"
Feeders might may not want to hear this either, but how about, "Are we merely farming them (deer)?"
Just because we’re not shooting deer doesn’t mean we’re not killing them.
Just because we’re not shooting them doesn’t mean they’re not suffering.
Cambronne, who lives in northwest Wisconsin, is 55. He has been a free-lance writer much of his adult life. He started hunting when he was in his late 40s.
"I felt the big story in deer was not being told,” Cambronne said. “The complete environmental angle needs to be told. It is possible to have too many deer and that ripples through the entire ecosystem.”
Cambronne said he hopes some who read and think about what his book brings to the table will shoot more deer, more different deer, or deer in different places.
“For non-hunters, I hope they understand it is possible to have too many deer and deer birth control is not an easy answer,” he said.
Cambronne said he learned a lot about the impact of deer on agriculture, which led to his chapter, We Get the Leftovers. And he learned about the seriousness of deer-vehicle crashes, hence the deadliest animal.
Cambronne’s book brings back a whimper we’ve pretty much ignored. That is, shouldn’t we be working to restore a balance be of equal importance as big antlers?
Maybe it’s time for a big picture with a buck, a doe and a magnificent forest, too.