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Buck Fever

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Twelve-year-old Joey MacTagert's dad wants his son to carry on the family tradition of hunting. But Joey has "buck fever"―he can't pull the trigger on a deer, and hates the idea of killing animals. He's more interested in art and hockey, two activities that his dad barely acknowledges. Joey's dad wants him to use his special skill in tracking to hunt down the big antlered buck that roams the woods near their home. Joey knows how to track Old Buck, but has kept secret from his father the reason he's gained the deer's trust. When trouble between his parents seems to escalate, Joey and his older sister, Philly, find themselves in the middle of tensions they don't fully understand. Joey wants to keep the peace, and if conquering his buck fever will do it, he has to try. Buck Fever is a nominee for the 2003 Edgar Award for Best First Novel.

240 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2009

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About the author

Cynthia Chapman Willis

2 books16 followers
Cynthia Chapman Willis lives in Branchburg, New Jersey with her family and as many animals as they will tolerate and she can manage. DOG GONE (Feiwel and Friends, 2008) is her first middle grade novel. BUCK FEVER, her second middle grade novel, is due out October 27th, 2009.

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5 stars
14 (29%)
4 stars
9 (18%)
3 stars
12 (25%)
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1 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 23 of 23 reviews
Profile Image for Keith.
275 reviews5 followers
September 14, 2014
I have to admit that when I pulled this novel off the shelf, I did so because of the title and didn't realize that it was a children's book until I started it. I obviously liked it well enough to continue reading and thought it was a well written story meant to inspire youngsters to follow their own “guiding star” in life and not attempt to satisfy others. But the conflict of a twelve year old boy faced with hunting a deer to satisfy his father, although an interesting plot line, seemed overly simplified and too smoothly wrapped up. If life were only that simple. I realize the necessity for keeping the plot at a level that a middle school student will find it both interesting and emotionally acceptable but I'm afraid the author's love of animals overshadowed the depth of the potential conflict that twelve year old Joey might have actually experienced. However, I'm certain that there are numerous teachers and parents that would take issue with that point of view.
Profile Image for Kay Mcgriff.
561 reviews6 followers
June 7, 2012
I bought Buck Fever (Feiwel and Friends 2009) by Cynthia Chapman Willis from the Authors for Henryville auction. I was looking for a good hunting story to share with my students who would rather be in the woods tracking a deer. Buck Fever is good hunting story, but it is so much more.

Joey has a talent for tracking deer, but he has buck fever: he can't pull the trigger once the deer is in his sights. He has often tracked Old Buck, but he has only shot pictures with Mrs. D's camera or sketched portraits with his pencils. Now his father wants to carry on the MacTagert family tradition of fathers and sons hunting together. Just to up the excitement, his dad makes a careless bet with another dad over which son will be the first to bring home a buck, even Old Buck himself. Joey learns of the bet and is determined not to disappoint his dad even if it means taking on hunters who don't follow the law. Just how much will he be willing to give up to do so?

The hunting conflicts provide plenty of drama, but there is drama at home and school, too. Mom has taken a new job that requires frequent travel around the world. Mom is excited to be back in the work force, but the family is falling apart in her absence. Not only do dirty dishes and clothes pile up, but Dad sinks further and further into depression. It falls on big sis Philly to take up the slack, but she can't keep up with chores, school, track, and her worry about Joey. Joey is falling further and further behind at school because he would rather draw than finish his homework. He even ditches class--and hockey practice with his friends--to track Old Buck and win the bet. If Joey can just shoot Old Buck, will it make everything better?

It all comes together with a dramatic confrontation in the woods that just might alter the lives of everyone involved in more ways than they can imagine.

Now I'm eager to read the other Willis book I bought from the auction, Dog Gone.

First published on my blog at http://kaymcgriff.edublogs.org/2012/0...
Profile Image for Kenneth Bennett.
Author 6 books143 followers
October 20, 2011
Twelve-year-old Joey MacTagert loves the outdoors and loves target shooting with his dad. He's also an expert tracker and spends hours alone in the woods, tracking animals for fun--and (unbeknownst to his dad) to draw pictures of them. He's a gifted artist.

What Joey doesn't have any enthusiasm for is hunting. He's kind-hearted, loves animals and has no desire to kill anything. That's a problem, though, because Joey's dad fully expects his son to carry on the MacTagert family tradition of hunting. And now that Joey's twelve, the time has come.

BUCK FEVER opens on the first day of antlered deer season, with Joey's dad imagining that his son will kill his first buck. Joey on the other hand, is sick to his stomach; loathe to let his father down, but loathe to kill.

Tensions increase from page one, with pressure coming from a variety of sources. Things at the MacTagert household aren't going well. Joey's mom has a new job that requires lots of travel and time away from the family, and Joey's dad is on edge. Unhappy. Joey and his older sister Philly find themselves in the middle of the unrest, desperately seeking ways to help--or escape.

BUCK FEVER is a great story, with lots of unexpected twists. And it's an excellent father/son tale. The characters are multi-faceted and well-drawn, the dialog is great. My son and I just this summer completed a Hunter Safety course, and Willis's descriptions are spot on. Her details (about the weapons, the deer blind, etc)--make the story come to life.

Willis's pacing is also great, and there's plenty of action and suspense throughout. Highly recommend.
Profile Image for Rachel.
271 reviews2 followers
January 21, 2010
Joey doesn’t want to hunt with his father, he wants to draw or play hockey instead. The thought of hunting makes him sick to his stomach and he couldn’t live with himself if he ever hurt an animal. The only shooting Joey wants to do is with his digital camera. He’s been using it to take pictures of the famous deer Old Buck and if his father finds out he’ll make him track the deer so they can shoot him with a gun. When Joey’s father makes a bet about Old Buck with another hunter, Joey has to decide if he’s going to “buck up” and kill his animal friend or disappoint his father.
I was skeptical about this book at first, but this coming of age story is told with elegance. The author makes a concerted effort to explain the benefits of hunting and show clear examples of unethical hunting practices such as using flashlights to blind deer and setting traps. Joey’s voice as the narrator is strong and many middle school boys will be able to relate to his struggle to figure out what it means to be a man. The plot does get a little repetitive in the middle with Joey going to school then missing hockey practice to hunt repeated for several chapters, but the story redeems itself during the climatic hunting scene at the end.
Profile Image for Shannon Hitchcock.
Author 9 books45 followers
July 17, 2009
I received an advanced reader's copy of this novel, and it passed my five-star litmus test...it kept me up last night. The funny thing is I didn't expect to like it. BUCK FEVER is about twelve-year-old Joey MacTagert. His father is an avid hunter, and deer hunting is a long-standing tradition in the MacTagert family. Joey even shoots with his grandfather's rifle. The problem is Joey is an artist, much more interested in drawing wildlife than shooting at it, but to Joey's dad, hunting is a father/son bonding experience. The conflict is heightened because Joey has very little time with his parents. His mom has taken a new job, requiring travel and isn't around much, and Joey's dad has started drowning his frustrations at the local bar. The book's strengths lie in the well-drawn characters, and the fast-paced plot. The climax had my heart racing, and I thought about this book for a long time after I finished reading it.
9 reviews
March 9, 2013
I think that Buck Fever was an ok book because it was hard to understand and wasn't written that well. It was hard to understand because it switch around with characters so often you didn't know who was talking about the subject you were on.

Mostly what happened is this kid named Joey wants to go hunting with his dad. He has been target shooting for many years and now he wants to step it up and go hunting. When he gets his chance to shoot the buck he stalls. Then his dad yelled "SHOOT" really loud and he scared the buck away. Once again he goes hunting and also freezes, but he shoots a rabbit. In the end he was intimidated by his friends because he hasn't shot a buck. So he goes hunting by himself without getting permission from his dad. He then accidently shoots himself in the foot and that how the book ends.

I think that people who like to go hunting and like to shoot and like adventure books should read it.
13 reviews
November 18, 2011
I really like this book. It is about a boy named joey who is going to be going deer hunting with his dad. When he does he sees a deer and his dad says to shoot it but when joey gets lined up he doesnt pull the trigger. His dad got really upset and started drinking and doesnt care. Joey thought his dad had got in a bent with a man that said joey will shott a buck before his son will and when he didnt shoot he lost the bet. So joey decides to prove to his dad that he will get one so he goes out hunting alone whitch his dad says never to do. when he is there he sees sam hecter and his father there drunk and hunting so he starts chasing them and when he does he has to climb over a wall and he did not unload his gun and he accedently shot himself in the foot. he lost his big toe. That is why this book was good and very interesting.
Profile Image for Sharon.
1,571 reviews15 followers
June 18, 2014
Joey MacTagert comes from six generations of Pennsylvania deer hunters, and as a twelve year old, it is his turn to go off with his dad and bag his first deer. Joey definitely has the nose to track and the eye to shoot, but he is conflicted between the family tradition and his true talents—sketching and hockey. Family life has become chaotic since his mom’s absence due to her job, which leaves his Dad focused on the hunt, and his honor student, track star sister managing the household—in a teenager sort of way. His own very lackluster school career consists of looking for his homework, mooching it from others, and hoping he can squeak by and not have to go to summer school, or worse. Loved the scenes with Joey’s middle school hockey friends, and his sister’s high school friends.
Author 1 book10 followers
March 26, 2010
A boy has a hearing disability. Since he cannot hear well, he can smell with his nose better. His father wants him to go hunting. He was never really interested in hunting, but while on his first hunt, he freazes and doesn't shoot a buck. His father later on gets more and more upset at him and eventually, comes home one night drunk. The boy has a secret though, with his increased smelling ability, he is able to track the biggest buck in the forest, Big Buck. He doesn't want anyone to know that he can, otherwise they might try to kill Big Buck. He does track him on many occasions, and since the animal trusts him, he takes its picture and then draws it in his art scetch. The boy doesn't want to hunt, he only wants to draw and play hockey.
9 reviews4 followers
March 19, 2013
My book is Buck Fever by Cynthia Willis. This book will test Joey's(the main characters) ability to the max and I highly recommend this book.

This book sounds like it takes place in a small town where most kids hunt. Joey is akid who is 13, he plays hockey and wants to hunt. He is told because his family is from generations of hunters. Joey wants to change that as he loves drawing. You learn how he deals with that and tries to make a change.

My favorite part is when you find out that Joey is running away from Sam Hector who's drunk and chasing him. Joey accidentally shoots himself in the foot when he is jumping a fence. MK Buckner who is belived to be a "man killer" but he saves Joeys' leg and foot by putting a tourniquet on his leg. He turns out to be a caring, nice man.
Profile Image for Linda.
Author 13 books41 followers
December 4, 2010
I loved this book. Joey is trying to carry on the family tradition of hunting, and prove to his dad that he can take down a big buck. Living in an area surrounded by woods and hunters, I am well acquainted with this scenario, (where even small girls are expected to learn the skill) and I am glad someone wrote a book from a young person's point of view. The last third of this book really picked up speed for me, and I was right there in the woods with Joey, feeling every breath he took. Filled with great details about hunting, I was not sure how things would turn out, but I liked the way they did.
11 reviews1 follower
May 10, 2013
This book is not very good. it is the story of a little boy named joey and his dad. they go on a hunting trip together they see the buck they want but joey cant pull the trigger. then they hear a bang and someone came up behind them and shot the buck they wanted. they are rivals and joeys dad gets shot. so he runs for help and on the way there someone picks him up and starts running with him and they get help together even though joey thought he was going to kill him. I don't want to read any more books by this author he is very predictable, and not very defiant. i am probably not going to read any more by this author.
12 reviews
February 26, 2013
I did not like this book. I thought that it might Be about a kid that like to go hunting with his dad. But it was not It was about a kid that did not enjoy to hunt and had other interest. I would much rather read a book about a kid that enjoys to be outdoors and hunting. If you enjoy to hunt I don't think this would be a very good book for you. Or if you enjoy reading about kids hunting this is not the book.
7 reviews
January 30, 2012
I gave this book 1 star because you go all over chasing this deer.You are hunting in blindes pointing the barrel out the blind and trecking all over and then when he gets close enough to shoot it it goes click and i didnt even bother to check the lcd screen. I though that it was the worst book that i have ever read and i wouldnt recommend this book to anyone.
Profile Image for Karen B..
16 reviews5 followers
December 19, 2009
What I loved about this book: voice and heart. Joey works hard to gain his dad's approval by hunting, but has too much empathy for the animals to pull the trigger. I won't give it away, but the story builds to an unexpected climax that had me by the throat. Highly recommend!
Profile Image for Maggie V.
804 reviews10 followers
January 12, 2010
For some reason, I liked this book. It isn't my usual genre, but I appreciated Joey's need for approval and his desire to pursue his own passion. The M.K. Buckner character reminded me of Boo Radley in "To Kill a Mockingbird."

Definitely an elementary/middle school boy book.
3 reviews
April 10, 2013
I thought it was an O.K. book. During the book, I thought it was going to be more about the thrill of hunting, instead of a story of a boy who didn't want to hunt but felt pressured to by his dad. Someone who takes an interest in hunting may like this book or if you want a quick read.
Profile Image for Sa.
38 reviews1 follower
October 26, 2009
I love this book, it's a great story about family, friends and the pressures of growing up.
Profile Image for Kathy.
682 reviews
January 26, 2011
Boys in northern rural areas with fathers who have a hunting legacy are going to like the authenticity of this book. Good characters and a good story.
12 reviews
December 14, 2012
Thsi book is about this kid who goes hunting and gets a big deer and I would recomend it to all of my freinds because it is a good book for hunting lovers like my self.
Displaying 1 - 23 of 23 reviews

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