And Now We Shall Do Manly Things by Craig J. Heimbuch is a non-fiction book about the author’s adventures learning to hunt. The author chronicles his personal journey while learning about the hunting culture in America.
The book is a hilarious perspective on the culture of American hunting which would make Bill Bryson proud. Born to a Midwestern family Heimbuch sets out to prove himself and hunt.
Sadly, the author is a part of a generation I am greatly familiar with, a generation which suffered the “feminization of America.” Where boys could not be boys, and hence did not grow up to be manly men, and men were vilified for doing, well, manly things. Don’t misunderstand me, if a boy wants to play with dolls, all the more power–but boys should not be forced to play with dolls or be told that to play soldiers is “bad.” Those extremes have a nasty tendency to backfire and sometimes even cause grave consequences.
The author’s journey begin upon receiving a family heirloom from his father–a shotgun. Being an admirer of outdoorsy types like TV personality Steven Rinella, Heimbuch decides that he needs to go out and “kill something.” Having some sort of a meltdown, finding himself burdened with responsibilities in a low paying job (he jests that “[j]ournalists are, in fact, the only people who marry teachers for the money”) and memories of wimping out on several occasions also helped him to take up his cause.
The author starts out small, hunting grouse, and basically that’s what he’s trying to kill. Forget lions and tigers and bears, these little birds are a challenge even to seasoned hunters as our hero finds out.
Along the way we join him on a journey to get his gun license, hunting license, meet the people he bounced his ideas off of and to an NRA gun show (something I always wanted to attend). Mr. Heimbuch looks at the individuals who own guns, the scary ones, the conspiracy theorists, those who live on the fringes of society, but he also looks at the average hunter (who are most of the folks) who happen to enjoy the sport or simply hunt for food.