Lily Raff McCaulou was raised as an animal lover in Takoma Park, Maryland, and educated at left-leaning Wesleyan University. McCaulou was raised as a gun-fearing environmentalist adhering to the principle that harming animals is wrong.
But then something happened. In in her early twenties, McCaulou, with a dislike for guns, developed a surprising interest in hunting.
At 24, McCaulou moved to Bend, Oregon and became a newspaper reporter. Being surrounded by skiing, hunting and fishing enthusiasts gradually eroded her negative attitude toward hunting.
McCaulou was drawn in even closer to the hunting scene after her “A River Runs Through It” insight into fly-fishing via her now husband.
What touched her was his deep knowledge, skill, and appreciation for the fish, the rivers and surroundings. McCaulou then began interviewing hunters for her articles, and came to realize that many of them were more thoughtful about animals and the environment than she was.
“I had this image in my head of a hunter,” McCaulou says, “of a stereotype, and the hunters I met didn’t meet that stereotype. They were really thoughtful about the animals they killed and had this understanding of the natural world that I had never given hunters credit for.”
McCaulou’s transformational experience inspired her to write “Call of the Mild: Learning to Hunt My Own Dinner”.
“I think the biggest thing for me,” McCaulou says about hunting, “is this window into the natural world that I can’t get any other way.”
“When you hunt you have to completely immerse yourself in the ecosystem. There’s no room for daydreaming. There’s no room for checking your BlackBerry. It requires you to be present in a way that nothing else does for me.”
“Call of the Mild” documents McCaulou’s first few years as a hunter — breaking the news to her stunned parents, taking a hunter safety course, and buying her first rifle.
She describes the learning curve she encountered, and yet with help from local hunting veterans, she progressed from “dove to pheasant to goose and, finally, in the riveting final pages of the book, to elk.”
SF Gate’s Liz Colvill sums up beautifully McCaulou’s inspiring transformation:
“McCaulou’s forthright and well-researched approach to this memoir, her first book, clearly conveys her message that there is a right way to hunt and to be active in both the American hunting community and the conservationist community. She lets us in on personal events, including two tragic family deaths, to show us how a newfound understanding of death helped evolve her identity as a hunter.”
And when sharing the deep knowledge she’s amassed about central Oregon and its wildlife, adds Colvill, McCaulou’s writing is evocative and inspiring, and it will encourage all manner of nature lovers to forge a deeper connection to their surroundings.
And the Golden Rule: “My dad says never kill anything unless you’re gonna eat it.” Memorable quote from “Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles”.
You can read a few “Call of the Mild” excerpts here — scroll down.