I have two reasons for writing this book. The first is personal. A friend of mine from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, a poet named Robert Currie, has been campaigning for many years for me to write a memoir. In this cause, he has been more persistent than a brigade of telemarketers. Every time I let down my guard, he would leap out from behind a bush or a dumpster and pummel me with the same entreaty. “Carpenter, you should really write a memoir.” “I’m too young, Currie,” I used to say. Or, once older, “I’m too busy, Currie.” Or, “Currie, why don’t you write a bloody memoir?” So I’m writing this memoir to get Currie off my back.
The second reason goes back to an incident that happened to me in 1995, which I have recounted in some detail in an earlier book entitled Courting Saskatchewan. In my account of this incident, which occurred up in the bush, I wrote about goose-hunting rituals in Saskatchewan. Some years later, my publisher, Rob Sanders (himself a former hunter), suggested that I write a longer book entirely about huntingits culture, its history, its adherents and detractors, its rise and fall as a form of recreation and as a means of subsistencea book in which these subjects might be shaped, to some extent, from my own experiences of hunting. That original incident that I had up in the bush is recounted once again,
but in much less detail. It seems that I could not write A Hunter’s Confession without reflecting upon the incident that triggered it.
This book is filled from beginning to end with hunting stories, primarily from the United States and Canada. It recounts many a hunt from my own life and many stories from the lives of hunters mightier than I. I have written down the reasons I loved hunting, the reasons I defend it, and the reasons I criticize it. More than a memoir, then, A Hunter’s Confession is a serious book about hunting in North America. I cannot help but notice a curious congruence between my experience of hunting and the trends we see among hunters all over this continent.
But it’s still a memoir. If I appear to show a preference for the less than competent side of my adventures and spend little time on my prowess as a nimrod, it’s largely because I’ve known the real thing: hunters who know what they’re doing in the field and whose intimacy with the habitat and the animals themselves has turned into a great abiding love for and fascination with these creatures.
If you’re still with me, but skeptical, you might be wondering, If these guys love the animals as they claim, why do they kill them? I might not answer this question to your satisfaction, but I promise that, as the story unfolds, I will never wander too far from it. I would like to come out of this process with a good answer for idea if you were to write a book-length verse epistle on accounting practices in ancient Carthage. Better get started. Time waits for no man.