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Heartsblood: Hunting, Spirituality, and Wildness in America

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In Heartsblood, nationally acclaimed nature writer and veteran outdoorsman David Petersen takes a clear-eyed look at humans and hunting, and reaches conclusions sure to challenge everyone's preconceptions. He draws clear distinctions between true hunting and contemporary hunter behavior, praising what's right about the former and damning what's wrong with the latter. Along with his extensive personal experience, Petersen draws on philosophy, evolutionary science, biology, and empirical studies to create an engaging and literate work that offers a unique look at hunting, hunters, anti-hunting, and, in the words of the author, "life's basic truths."

269 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2000

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David Petersen

74 books16 followers
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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 8 of 8 reviews
Profile Image for Bpaul.
177 reviews1 follower
December 5, 2014
Just finished reading this on my kindle app, middle of the night, after changing a diaper -- so give me some latitude in this review, please.

So far, this is the best of the hunting ethics/worldview books I've read.

Peterson manages to present his case (hunting, when done in a healthy way, is necessary for humans and animals, essentially) without being sanctimonious or maudlin. He elevates his own style of hunting (traditional archery) without needlessly putting down those who choose different tools. He tells personal stories to give context to his arguments without the jump between being too jarring (as Kerasote does, sorry Kerasote -- it had to be said).

He also intellectually attacks extremists on both sides of the argument, clearly and un-dauntingly. Animal Rights groups are separated clearly from Animal Welfare groups, and Doministic/Trophy hunters are separated from Nature Hunters. This is an enormous coup and I really appreciate it.

I'm reading all of these books to inform and place my own writings and musings on hunting and nature and our modern human place in it all. This one is the best of the pack.

Profile Image for Tina.
43 reviews2 followers
February 19, 2021
As someone who knows nothing about hunting but was very strongly in the anti-hunting camp prior to reading this book, I certainly learned a lot. Petersen dives into the role of hunting in wildlife conservation, in species evolution, and in humans connecting with nature. He differentiated ethical from non-ethical hunting (which is where most of my stereotyping came from) and covered many other topics, and I left the book with a newfound understanding and respect for hunting. While I’m certainly not someone who would hunt myself and can’t say I’m definitively pro-hunting, I can at least say that I have a better grasp on how it can benefit people and animals and wilderness all at the same time. I’m giving this book a 3 star rating only because of Petersen’s hard-to-follow writing style; lots of run on sentences. Content-wise I’d give it 4 stars.
7 reviews1 follower
June 24, 2010
Great book if your a hunter or an outdoorsman and tired of being nagged by people for being what you are. Petersen brings to life people who are fanatical about the outdoors and the constant search to touch a life that has been left far behind by the modern world if only for a breif few weeks each year. Their thoughts along with his say something that is always on the tips of the tongues of all hunters.
66 reviews1 follower
December 2, 2020
Great review of the arguments for and against hunting. Even though this book is pretty old now, the "current" statistics about hunters and types of hunters were interesting. The best parts were, of course, the more timeless ones about why we hunt and why it feels like something we were made to do.

Most powerful for me, was the discussion of why killing is necessary to fully participate in nature.

Research and data, but all framed with hunting stories. In the tradition of Edward Abbey, who he references often.

I docked a star for the asides about fishing and women in hunting which felt tacked-on and distracted from the coherence of the book overall.
Profile Image for Synty Boehm.
3 reviews
February 7, 2014
The writing style is leaves a lot to be desired. Each chapter is further broken into small sections that seem to have been written separately. Almost as though each was an editorial piece gathered together to make this book.

Otherwise the author does just as others have said, he praises what he agrees with while bashing what he doesn't. Almost to the point of being off-putting.

I did enjoy the tails and stories of the hunts. Some of those hunts were quite remarkable.

Perhaps if I was just starting out this book would have been more to my liking.
Profile Image for Oz Barton.
92 reviews1 follower
June 3, 2015
Compelling and well informed. Helped clarify some issues I've been having regarding the ethics of hunting, as a formerly PETA-indoctrinated kid who now wants to kill the animals I eat. Was unimpressed with author's take on certain topics like gender and domesticated livestock, but on the whole I found myself agreeing with what he had to say.
41 reviews2 followers
August 14, 2012
I liked this book, overall. In parts the author gets a little preachy, but overall it's an interesting read, assuming you're already pro-hunting. As someone that does not hunt, it was interesting to read a first hand set of opinions on hunting.
Displaying 1 - 8 of 8 reviews

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