In our Media Diet column, Zero Point Zero Production asks prominent hunters about their reading and media consumption habits. What hunting magazines are they reading? How do they get their news when they’re at home? What about when on a hunting trip? What is on their Netflix queues? The answers to all these questions, and more, lie ahead. Up next, Randy Newberg. Randy is the host and producer of Fresh Tracks and On Your Own Adventures, and has become the face of self-guided hunting on the public lands of the West. He takes viewers to remote locations, showing the uncommon experiences available to the common hunters of America. As an avid conservationist, Randy advocates on behalf of hunters, educating his audience in the role hunters have played in restoring wildlife to American in what he calls “The greatest story never told.” Randy shares his passion for our public lands, a place for all hunters, “whether they are, or are not, a man of means.”
Do you read a lot?
Yes and no. Yes, within areas of interest and no from an aspect of multiple interests. In my life as a TV host and website owner, I read a lot of current topics. In my life as a CPA, I get way too much technical reading.
For pleasure, I read topics that take my mind to places I wish I had been, to cultures I wish still existed or to time periods that would have instilled important life lessons. Some of my reading is not for the great wordsmanship, but rather to think about the world in a completely different context beyond what my daily life provides.
What book are you reading?
On my coffee table right now is Sand County Almanac, by Aldo Leopold. It is worn and tattered. I have read it enough times that I probably can recite most of it. Yet, for a person of my intense outdoor, conservation and history interest, that book and the context of being written while conservation in the U.S. was in its infancy, provides me new thoughts and ideas every time I read it. Sometimes it is good to go back and re-read words that inspired us to action or commitment. Sand County Almanac does just that. I read it just about every winter, visualizing how that conservation ethic can be brought to our TV show.
Next on my list to read is Hunting The American West, by Richard Rattenbury. My wife gave me the book for Christmas, two years ago. I have read parts and pieces since then, but time and distractions seem to take me away from this lengthy historical recount of hunting in the 19th Century. I am intrigued by the perspective of why people hunted, how they hunted and what hunting meant to the people colonizing this landscape in the 1800’s.
If you had to recommend 5 books for someone new to hunting, what would they be?
Since one cannot be a hunter without being a conservationist, and to be a conservationist you need the important historical perspective of how that movement evolved, most of what I would recommend falls into that genre.
Obviously, as I stated above, Sand County Almanac, by Aldo Leopold.
A Quiet Place of Violence, by Allen Morris Jones. I just recently finished the book and it gives remarkable perspective as to why hunters view the world around them differently than non-hunters. By hunting, we become part of the process of life and evolution; active participants who are engaged in eating, living and dying. Others tend to be observers, not participants, allowing them to think of humans as somehow being exempt from the process of life, death, eating and living in the natural world. This book gives remarkable perspective to an important issue facing hunting as we go forward in a society that is leaning towards humans as non-participants in the natural world. A very honest book.
Hunting Trips of a Ranchman & The Wilderness Hunter, by Theodore Roosevelt gives a great perspective of a passionate hunter who lived the era of market shooting and commercial interests decimating wildlife. At a time when a country was committed to Manifest Destiny and convinced of the righteousness in “conquering” nature, one of our greatest leaders provided a new perspective on society’s interaction with the natural world and in doing so, gave a voice to wild animals and wild places. To lead the conservation path Roosevelt took, at the times he did it, against the huge current of political opposition, makes him and his accomplishments even more remarkable. Not too much different than the conservation challenges facing hunters today.
Bloodties, by Ted Kerasote. Ted is a thinker who will challenge the norms of hunters’ place in society. He uses his experience as a non-hunter, now a committed hunter/localvore, to contrast hunting in our society to hunting in other cultures with a more direct connection to the land and wildlife.
Beyond Fair Chase, by Jim Posewitz. Besides being a close friend, Jim is a respected writer and speaker about the history of conservation and the legacy that has been handed to hunters of today. BFC is a very simple book, readable in a few hours. Its brevity is matched, however, by its challenge to hunters and their interaction with the animals we hunt.
Hunters often look at ourselves as though we are somehow different than the greater spectrum of society. Yet, when we compare hunters to society as a whole, our tendencies are a very close match to the society in which we live in. It is for that reason that I look to non-hunting media for valid parallels of what I see within the community I most closely associate with; hunters.
What about magazines? Which ones do you read?
Maybe I am not worldly in my scope of reading, but I subscribe to only one magazine; intentionally. I get many that come as a result of my membership to organizations. The two that I find in my “read while traveling” pile are Bugle Magazine of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Fair Chase Magazine from the Boone and Crockett Club. Both take on substantive issues relevant to my interests, often taking positions that cause me to bend my mind to see other perspectives.
I subscribe to Montana Quarterly. A very well-edited magazine that gives a glimpse into a landscape and culture that many find to be very “Americana-ish.” Yet, when one peels back the layers, the good writers show that even in this treasured part of America, the eon-old challenges exist; lifestyle versus prosperity, what really constitutes progress, how we can live in a manner that sustains us while conserving the lands and water we are dependent upon and life lessons told through the eyes of common people.
Which websites do you go to regularly?
Since I own a large hunting website, HuntTalk.com, that occupies a large portion of my time. In the hunting world, I am looking for places where people can think and have discussion, without destroying those who have dissenting opinions.
Outside of the hunting world, I spend a lot of time on The New York Times website. Yeah, the Times. Not only to keep me up on current issues, but for some daily reality of how the rest of the world is so much different than my comforts here in Bozeman, Montana. Seeing that stark contrast in opinions written on the Times’ website gives me better understanding of why people think like they do, and why that thinking is most often different from my own. We are a product of our environments and no site reminds me of that more than the Times.
Is it difficult to keep up with the news while hunting?
Yes, very difficult. The good news is, the core group of regulars on my Hunt Talk website are some of the most intelligent and informed in the outdoor world. If a topic of importance to hunting arises, I will usually read about it there.
I can be in the backcountry for weeks at a time, requiring me to devour news at a rapid pace when reconnected to civilization; or as I often call it, un-civilization.
How else do you get news and other media? Do you use social media?
I am not a big consumer of social media. Like many media, it is diluted, making it hard to sort through the static to find the valuable nuggets. The TV show requires me to be part of Facebook. I have a Twitter account, but a muskrat probably tweets as much as I do. I do get news feeds from sites I think are worthwhile. I can scan them quickly and sort what I think is worth a deeper look.
Do you watch TV? Which shows?
Very seldom do I have time to watch TV. When I do, it includes very little outdoor TV, with three exceptions; my own show Fresh Tracks, Meateater and Team Elk. I watch The Big Bang Theory for laughs; with the rest of my TV time usually confined to short doses of sports, specifically hockey and my beloved, yet recently dismal, Minnesota Vikings.
Do you ever go to the movies?
Much to my wife’s disappointment, not very often. I know that might sound lazy. I have little use for what Hollywood produces, with a few exceptions. My wife knows my tastes and interests, which usually require some spin on history or a man vs. nature conflict. She will pre-screen most of the movies, recommending those she thinks I might enjoy. When a movie is selected, it is at home, on the couch, with us and the dog. Yes, I have a great wife.
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