Book Review: One With the Wilderness

by Scott Bestul

Bowhunting is largely a solo endeavor. But how often is the modern bowhunter truly alone? Like most bowhunters, my primary game is the whitetail, and though I spend many hours chasing them each fall I'm rarely far from other people; there seem to always be nearby farms and homes, traffic noise is common from many of my stands, and it's getting to be a rare hunt when I don't have a cell phone in my pocket so my family can reach me "just in case."

Though Illinois hunter Mike Mitten is no stranger to such experience, he's also unafraid to tackle serious solo adventure, hunts where he is miles and days away from anything resembling help or civilization. Mitten has detailed some of his adventures in this great book, which takes readers on bowhunts for Illinois whitetail, Colorado elk, Ontario black bear, Alaskan moose, and other species. The primary theme of "One With the Wilderness" (order copies at www.brothersofthebow.com) is one of simple self-reliance. Mitten argues that hard-won woodsmanship skills , coupled with a sense of adventure, make for a deeper, more satisfying hunt…Whether you're sitting in a treestand or have just been dropped off by a floatplane for a two weeks in the wilderness.

The tales that Mitten spins used to be fairly common in outdoor writing. Sadly, they've largely disappeared as the focus changed to more instructional pieces. Interestingly, even Mitten can't resist the urge to lapse into how-to mode, and in my opinion these are the weakest moments of this book. Mitten is at his best when he simply tells us how he spent days chasing one maddening bull elk, or managed to shoot a giant moose with a recurve on a solitary hunt. If you're like me, you'll want to read "One With the Wilderness" to share in adventures you'll likely never achieve. And if you should, finally, want to plan that solo wilderness hunt, you'll want to order a different book, full of practicality and how-to advice.

Meanwhile, enjoy a vicarious adventure with this one.