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, Rorke Denver. Commander Rorke T. Denver has run every phase of training for the U.S. Navy SEALs and led special-forces missions in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and other international hot spots. He starred in the hit film Act of Valor, which is based on true SEAL adventures. His first book, the New York Times Bestselling, Damn Few: Making the Modern SEAL Warrior, takes you inside his personal story and the fascinating, demanding SEAL training program he now oversees.
After completing the SEALs’ legendary Basic Underwater Demolition program in 1999 (BUD/S Class 224), Denver began an action-filled 13-year career as a platoon commander and training leader with America’s premier special-operations force. Denver was officer in charge of BRAVO Platoon of SEAL Team THREE in Iraq’s Al Anbar Province in one of the most combat-heavy deployments of any regular SEAL team since Vietnam. Stationed in Habbaniya, his team conducted more than 190 missions including sniper operations, direct assaults, special reconnaissance and ground patrols. Denver was awarded the Bronze Star with “V” for valorous action in combat. Denver is an honor graduate of the United States Army Ranger School. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Syracuse University, where he was an All-American lacrosse player and captain of the varsity lacrosse team. He earned a Master’s Degree in Global Business Leadership from the University of San Diego.
I am a voracious reader and it is something that truly brings me joy, focus and motivation. I just started a book called The River of Doubt, a book about Teddy Roosevelt’s adventure down one of the tributaries of the Amazon. He had just lost his last run for election and took this trip to get away and feed his spirit. So far it is a wonderful read. Just before that, I knocked out one of the best novels I have read in some time, called The Sisters Brothers. It is a western. I grew up loving westerns both in print and movies. I worked on a guest ranch as a wrangler for a few summers and learned to rope and ride from some of the all time great cowboys. It is also about two brothers and their adventures. I have a younger brother who is my best friend and favorite adventure partner so the book is close to home. I thought it was incredible.
If you had to recommend 5 books for someone new to hunting, what would they be?
A few of these are obvious hunting books and some are just reads that make me think of wild places and wild adventure. I have a split in my personality when it comes to solo and group pursuits. Most of my greatest memories and experiences have come as a part of a team. Sports, the SEAL teams and great friends. But I think we are all fascinated on the thought of “what can I take, how long would I survive” type scenarios. So the books below cover both:
–The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
–A Sporting Life or anything written by Thomas McGuane
–Meat Eater: Adventures in the Life of an American Hunter by Steve Rinella
–Last of the Breed by Louis L’Amour
-All the short stories of Patrick F. McManus
What about magazines? Which ones do you read?
I travel a lot consulting on leadership and high performance teams so I now subscribe to many magazines. It helps break up the flights and the books I am enjoying at the time. In the outdoor/hunting space I enjoy ‘Field & Stream’ (Particularly Petzla’s colums and advice. I love his thinking and writing; he is an unapologetic throwback), ‘Outside’ (Love the gear stuff in each issue and most of the articles. Some, in my mind, go “off the reservation” into the extreme “Green”. I consider myself “green”, but I believe, just like other extremist groups, the standard bearers have lost their compass on reality), ‘Western Hunter’ (For world-class and specific knowledge and how-to advice) and ‘Guns & Ammo’ (So I can avoid embarrassing myself. Most people think if you are a Navy SEAL you must be a gun nut. I am not. I love guns and think they are both beautiful and wonderful tools for work and pleasure, but I am not a details guy. So folks ask me at events about what type of scope mounts I like and I couldn’t name a brand if my life depended on it. I read the magazine to shore up my shortcomings on the subject).
I am 100% an art and literature guy and a disaster when it comes to science and math, so I read ‘Popular Mechanics’ and ‘Popular Science’. I think it is easy to focus on your strengths, but attacking your weaknesses is humbling and where the growth is.
Which websites do you go to regularly?
I do not spend a lot of time online. I see that space as a tool to find what I need: gear, tickets, answers to questions. I don’t see it as a spot to exist. My bride and I use Amazon Prime a lot to streamline our shopping and offer more time for us to enjoy the things we love to do as a family.
Is it difficult to keep up with the news while hunting?
I have zero desire to follow or keep up with the news while hunting! I hunt and fish to get away. I get to immerse myself into the primal world and find a rhythm that is rare and special. I think our entire society would benefit greatly from intermittent but regular windows where we truly “unplug”. So I do everything in my power to turn off my phone, take some deep breaths and be present in the moment. I think that is one of the blessings of being deployed and away training for years with the SEAL teams…you recognize that time is beyond precious and not promised. So when I am home with my family, I am home with my family. I try to be focused on them, focused on us and to not let the pressures of our work and information-overloaded lives distract me.
How else do you get news and other media? Use social media?
I read almost all of my news. Sadly, I find most on-air news nearly intolerable. The reporting, both in craft and subject drives me nuts. I honestly don’t understand it. The only non-written news I will take in is talk radio. Hugh Hewitt, who has a nationally syndicated conservative talk radio show is a friend and mentor. He is a brilliant mind, a wonderful interviewer and thinker and a pro on-air. I love to hear any show he is on. I consistently visit Victor Davis Hanson’s work, mostly on his website as well as the writing of Mark Steyn. Wonderful thinkers both. My daily rag is the Wall Street Journal. I honestly don’t think there is better general news journalism.
I am treading lightly in the social media space. Needless to say, as an active duty SEAL, I didn’t have a Facerbook page or Twitter account. We don’t do that stuff, contrary to current belief and image. When I left active duty and wrote a book, my publisher said I had to enter that arena. It is not a strength of mine. I see its power, but I am not convinced it is “connecting” us as advertised. My desires and those things I enjoy are terrestrial, not virtual, so I am struggling with it.
Do you watch TV? Which shows?
Not as much as I once did. When my bride and I were first married, we just loved relaxing together when I was home and watching movies and TV. With as much time as I was away training and deploying, sometimes all you want to do when home is unplug and be close. So we watched a little bit of everything. Reality, series, movies. Now we have two littles at home and our TV time is usually relegated to Disney, Kids educational stuff and so on. Tough times. That said it seems TV is starting to dominate the creative space. Such big and talented actors are taking on TV shows and it is to our benefit. It seems the big studios have driven the budgets to a place that movie scripts can’t match. So I do think TV is the front runner at present. I will just have to enjoy most of those popular series post live run and catch them on Netflix.
Do you ever go to the movies?
I love the movies, always have. Oscar night growing up was one of the big TV nights in the Denver household. We would have absolutely seen all the films in the running. Recently, if I have seen any of the films it is rare. I do think movies have declined in gravity and quality. We are in the age of the Mega Blockbuster and very few of those films do anything for me. Occasionally one gets it right, but it seems independent films are winning the day for my time. Actually, I have to give it to Disney and Pixar, they make incredible films for the kids and parents alike.
Fill in the blank: I’d like to see _________ answer these same questions.
Thomas McGuane or Jim Harrison
Watch Rorke Denver in the 2-Part Season Finale of MeatEater beginning Thursday September 18th at 8pm e/p on Sportsman Channel. Masters of their respective fields, Steven Rinella takes Navy SEAL Rorke Denver deep into the Alaskan backcountry to hunt black bears in the mighty Alaska Range.