A Rookie Takes the Field

Women in the woods, real science, and canine subscribers.

Field & Stream Online Editors

I want to commend Field & Stream for featuring a hunting article about a woman ("Zero to Deer" by Kimberly Hiss). I thoroughly enjoyed it. Being a teenage woman hunter myself, I get excited when I see women hunters on TV or in articles. There aren't many of us, but our numbers are growing. Thank you, and I look forward to future articles of this sort.
Nicole Pearson, Buckner, Ky.

Okay guys, it seems that what we have here is the makings of a traditional archer. So, Kim, this is what you do: Get yourself a good traditional bow and head out to see me in Arizona. Your shot, if you get one, will be in feet, not yards. The music you hear will be the wind and birds. The only engine you hear will be your heart.
Michael P. Wanat, via e-mail

Kimberly Hiss reconfirmed to me that we who have been blessed with hunting as an everyday part of our lives from childhood need to take action by teaching others what we know. If more people (especially teens) had the opportunity to successfully hunt one time, they would value life more.

Hiss touched on that after she bagged her deer. She just wanted to celebrate her success in her way, which came across as a pure, unadulterated awe of what she had just accomplished.
Terry Overdorf, via e-mail

It was with great pleasure that I read "Zero to Deer." Hiss got a great many things right and did not ignore or tiptoe discreetly past certain aspects of her experience. Forty years ago, you ascertained that your deer was down to stay, looked at him, and marveled at the whole thing. Or, at least, I did. Now we have the end-zone dance, the high five, and a host of other regrettable displays aired regularly on the Outdoor Channel. Of all the young writers I have read in a long time, I have not been so sure of any as I am of Hiss. She's starting on the high moral ground, and I see no reason not to stay there.
John Hewitt, Fairbanks, Alaska

I'm wondering why the assistant editor of a magazine that covers hunting and fishing had never hunted or fished. Maybe you're going to go the route of Sports Afield and switch to sailing and backpacking as the primary coverage. If that's the case I want to be the first to cancel my subscription. Also I think that if you have free hunting trips to give away, why not give it to your readers instead of someone from New York City who will probably never hunt again.
Gene Gordon, via e-mail

Gene, let's get a couple of things straight. One, we will never switch to sailing and backpacking. And two, if you want to get invited on a women-only NRA hunt, they can do amazing things with transgender surgery these days. -THE EDITORS

[NEXT "DON'T SHOOT!"] DON'T SHOOT!
I must reply to the finest article I've ever read: "The Science of Shooting Deer" written by those four young fellers (David E. Petzal, Craig Boddington, Wayne van Zwoll, Layne Simpson). Every word follows my own experiences of hunting deer for three-quarters of a century. Thanks for a very informative article.
Allan Kielczewski, Fort Frances, Ontario

Your article validates my lifelong belief that it's unethical to shoot at a running deer. Despite the fact that "four of the country's top hunting marksmen" were shooting at a target on a known path moving at a slow speed, they could only make five vital-zone hits out of 12 opportunities. When you factor in the variables and consider that 99 percent of the hunting population are not top marksmen, the only conclusion that a responsible hunter can have is to never shoot at a running deer.
Kent Messersmith, Niles, Mich.

I could not contain myself upon seeing your cover depicting a running deer, and I knew just what to expect in "The Science of Shooting Deer." I and my associates (New York state hunter-safety instructors) have over 100 years' teaching experience as welll as 160 or so years' hunting experience. We teach, as part of ethics, that we have a responsibility to the game we hunt to make quick, clean kills. We also teach, as part of safe firearms handling, that we do not take running shots on deer.

The editors in this shooting event are highly respected, and readers rely on them. Articles like this do a great disservice to the hard work we put into making the woods a safer place. The next time you write an article like this, maybe you should get a safety expert to complement your shooting experts!
Owen Purcell, Pleasantville, N.Y.

_David E. Petzal replies: Shooting at running game is legal, and people do it, hunter-safety classes notwithstanding. Our wretched results showed very clearly that it is not something you do if you can get a better shot. _

HEAVEY ON THE LOOSE
In "Hoofing It for Caribou," Bill Heavey says that you sent him to Quebec "without adult supervision." Do it again! His caribou may not be a B&C; trophy, but the tale is a winner!
Arnie Steinbeck, Shady Cove, Ore.

Bill Heavey's "Why Men Love Knives" (A Sportsman's Life) was great. My wife read the title and shook her head. When I show her or my daughter a new knife, they just hold it with thumb and first finger and say, "It's nice"-if I can get them to do that much. So, I go on my way, hoping to find someone to "check it out."
Michael Sedor, Anchorage, Alaska

[NEXT "DOG DEMOGRAPHICS"] **DOG DEMOGRAPHICS **
Catfish'n hot dog! I really enjoyed Jonathan Miles' "Deep-fried Secrets of a Catfish Joint." We fish for cats almost exclusively here on Lake Huron. My dog (Doc Henry) is trained to alert me when the bells on the rods "ding." Works like a charm!

By the way, the subscription to F&S; comes in his (the dog's) name here at the house.
Kirk Howes¿¿¿er¿¿¿Doc Henry, via e-mail

OVER THE TOP
I appreciate your efforts to keep us well informed about sport fishing, but don't you think your article about the two clowns in Florida offering topless bimbos as deckhands went a little too far ("Top This," Field Notes)? Don't you have to cope with enough of the gun control and animal activist people without rankling the feminists as well? The original publishers 109 years ago must be pounding their coffins.
Tom Lenweaver, Syracuse, N.Y.

_Rich Tosches replies: In hindsight, I agree with you. I'd intended the story solely as a warning about the dangers of exposing the skin to harmful ultraviolet rays. But now I see how it could have been taken the wrong way. _

SAY "CHEESE"
I have some advice for all the Boy Scouts that want to earn their merit badge in hunting ("The Softer Side of the Scouts," Field Notes): A deer is easier to take a picture of after you shoot it. Also, venison tastes much better than Kodak color prints.
Kevin King, Galloway, Ohio

We should be supportive of any activity that gets youngsters into the woods to learn safe hunting skills. Aldo Leopold and Jos¿¿ Ortega y Gasset are the appropriate authorities, not Baden-Powell and Seton, neither of whom ever considered the kill to be the purpose of hunting. We hunt to be a part of nature. If a kill is the definition of a successful hunt, there are many hunters less successful than the Scouts; they don't even get a photo.
Cornelius J. Carmody, Monkton, Md.

The 10th edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines hunt as "1 a: to pursue for food or in sport." Many agree that being part of nature is a very important part of hunting, but it's not the activity's literal and historical purpose. If nature is all you want, go backpacking and get your meat from Super Fresh. And the Scouts could instead establish a Being-Part-of-Nature Merit Badge. -THE EDITORS