Where…The Deer Track Leads

Posted on September 1, 2020

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No man that runs can read it; but one who walks slowly, and who pauses long to observe, will translate some what as follows the silent but eloquent language of tracks. – Archibald Rutledge

 

 

 

The imprint that has been left on the landscape of literary work when it comes to tracking whitetail deer and documenting their behavior by the man most known as The Deer Tracker is nothing short of a completion. In six days God spoke the world into existence and rested on the seventh, the perfect number. R.G. Bernier has now, with his newest creation, released a seventh book fittingly titled, Where… The Deer Track Leads.

It has been suggested by many notable figures within the whitetail hunting community that there is no such thing as a master when it comes to hunting whitetails, however, some come close. Bernier is just such a hunter, and the resume he’s assembled puts him on a plane few have attained. He is truly a master tracker.

Equal to that, and certainly of no less value, is R. G.’s knowledge, insight and understanding of the white-tailed deer. It has also been written that he is a living legend, having perfected the craft of outsmarting wilderness bucks, but most importantly, knows more about deer behavior than many professional biologists, and perhaps, even the deer themselves. What began many years ago in the heart of a young lad who was drawn to deer like a camel is to water, has grown into a storied career, with his delivery of the topic through books, articles, photography and talks.

Over twenty years ago, the first, and perhaps the most significant work produced was simply titled, The Deer Trackers. This single work has gone through numerous printings and audible media and fetches a good bit of coin for anyone wanting an original copy from the open market. Little could The Deer Tracker realize where this would ultimately, one day, take him.

 

 

Not one to rest on his own laurels, Bernier, sensing that hunters wanted more, and having lots to provide, set about to craft the next book. On The Track just seemed the natural path to take, citing numerous voices from our deer hunting past that engendered following the slots of heavy-horned, burley old bucks.

 

 

Even with historical documentation of like-minded, and equally eager stag followers, R.G. was still not satisfied; there seemed to be more that he could learn and then provide to his audience. Thus was born the idea to head to the continent of Africa in search of a people best known for their uncanny ability to track anything across the dry sand: the Kalahari Bushmen.

In what became the show piece of his now three works, Bernier romanced the mystique of an ageless art and issued The Deer Tracker’s Journey. The heartbeat of the whitetail deer tracker reflects the rhythms of the traditional African Bushmen. Both practice the ancient yet effective means of tracking down a marked animal and bringing it to bag. Separated only be time and distance, the contrast of these two societies of dedicated hoof print specialist’s lies simply in the diversity of their cultures. The reader is taken from North America’s wilderness forests to the thirsty lands of South Africa’s Kalahari Desert. In a quest to track down the white-tailed deer and every new whiff of insight about this grand creature, Bernier showcased a society of hunters and trackers that may well be the best in the world.

Throughout this literary work, the text is richly supported by Bernier’s stunning imagery that few photographers have had the good fortune to capture. From lions, cape buffalo, zebras and giraffes, to moose, elk and birthing whitetails, The Deer Tracker masterfully blended technique and whitetail behavior into a stunning portrait of grace and beauty. And so, it seemed, Bernier had eclipsed even his own wildest imaginations having done what no other current tracker of deer had attempted, utilizing two continents to bring further insight into the track of the white-tailed deer.

 

 

There is a primeval yearning that indeed beats within the chest of some, a longing to uncover every shred of information, insight and behavior of that which they pursue. For The Deer Tracker is was just a natural fit to study the behaviorisms of the animal he so loves to pursue. In so doing, it led him to making observations each spring as to when fawns would birth. By back dating their arrival using a 198-day gestation period provided him the necessary data to confirm exactly when breeding transpired the previous autumn.

As he tracked down each new whiff of insight, one early spring morning found him following the very loud cry of a spotted fawn. This fawn, as it would turn out was no ordinary orphan, it was a two-pound runt abandoned by a mother who instinctively knew that her offspring would never make it. However, Bernier was not convinced that it wouldn’t and scooped up the pint-sized peanut, affectionately named it Dickie the Deer, and transported the tyke to a wildlife rehabilitator.

This rescue and the events that followed couldn’t just be documented, they needed to be shared.  Creatively, R.G. put together a children’s book, Dickie the Deer, The Salvation of a Fawn sharing the narrative and richly illustrating the entire first summer of this special fawn’s life.

 

 

For the next several years, Bernier focused more of his attention on his many speaking engagements, and continued writing articles for publications such as Deer & Deer Hunting and Whitetail News. His articles and photography began to win him awards; accolades given by his own peers. When he was often asked when he would do another book, he would reply that he was not sure if he ever would. But something changed. In the end, life is not about accolades, it’s not about awards, it is about a body of work that will outlast you. Authors write books for two primary reasons, either to make money or leave something of value. Bernier has always attested that he indeed wants his work to outlive him, outdistance him and be part of a legacy to look back upon when huntsmen and women go searching the dustbins of historical deer hunting literature.

And thus, there still resided a deep longing to share with an audience more of what he’d been blessed to see, photograph and experience, and hence, the next book was born.

For 50 years, from leaf-littered forests to knee-deep snow, R.G. has tracked many a denizen of the forest wilds. Close your eyes and envision putting on your woolen jacket and pants, pulling up your socks, donning your hunting boots and cinching up your gun belt. Breathe in the pungent smells of gun oil, leather slings and wood smoke. Feel the cool November wind brushing across your face. Allow your imagination to run as free as a regal whitetail buck bounding through the forest.

 

 

You see, every huntsman that takes up the challenge to place his boots into the unknown, to embark upon a darkened forest prior to the golden rays of mornings first light, to tramp endlessly behind a set of imprints in search of a mere vision, is a huntsman that thirsts for true adventure. Herein lies The Deer Tracker. His uninhibited spirit soars to meet the next mysterious bend in the trail and he delights in the sweat, toil and struggle that ultimately will lead to fulfilment. This tenacity – this mental and physical endurance – is required for success no matter how high the climb or how great the challenge.

Fifty years of tramping after this elusive animal with rifle, bow, muzzleloader and camera have been gleaned, and the stories contained within the pages of Gleanings From 50 Years On The Whitetail Track show the results. It is a collection of incredibly exhilarating experiences that have enriched his days immensely.

 

 

Incidentally, this book that was 50 years in the making and produced 12 years following Bernier’s last book, won him yet another prestigious Professional Outdoor Media Association Pinnacle Award as the best book for 2020.

And then, immediately on the heels of Gleanings, Bernier came almost full circle when he decided to re-release the classic that began this literary journey, The Deer Trackers 20th Anniversary Edition. With new information, added bonus chapters along with updates, the book became, once again, affordable to the average huntsmen.

 

 

So here we are, in the year 2020 and yet again, The Deer Tracker provides us another fitting title, Where… The Deer Track Leads, that has essentially been his love, mission, hobby, sport, and livelihood since he was knee high to a grasshopper. He’s a throw-back. In an age of polyester hunting gear, he speaks of woolen hunting togs. Even in conversation he doesn’t talk, he opines – and credits others the same way. He has held over the language and practice of two generations ago. But don’t think him out of touch, because on the topic of deer hunting and the behavior of America’s most hunted species, he has more hours of up-close study than anyone else we can find record of – his photography proves it.

Tracking in the wilderness unfettered by the noise of civilization has changed little over time. A woolen-clad tracker stands amidst flakes of dancing snow searching for the maker of the grand imprints he’s been following. With rifle firmly grasped, ready at a moment’s notice to respond… the track leads on, so must he.

For the author, what began as a pursuit filled with boyhood enthusiasm, excitement, and a thirst for understanding, has over the span of decades now turned into tracking sessions using intelligence guided by experience.  For The Deer Tracker, the lure of a track has been more than just a pound of flesh, bone and antler at the end of a trail, it has equally been an incredible journey filled with insight, intrigue, adventure, wonderment and ultimately, a career.

You see, without a track leading R.G., there’d have been no shot, no disturbance, and no buck.  Without the deer’s track there would have been no hunting, no tracking, no books, no photography, no speaking. We should all be thankful that this was never the case.

If you have reached this point in the article, one would assume you have a vested interest in obtaining a copy and going along, if only in your imagination, with The Deer Tracker. As we conclude this, allow us, his group of editors, colleagues, and friends to say:

Bernier’s ultimate goal, deer reader, has always been to lead us to knowledge. He has never sought to gain anything monetarily or desired to have a bunch of look-a-like foot soldiers with identical weapons running around the deer woods. It’s not the clothes, the gun, method or even snow that makes the hunter, it’s the heart. Bernier’s interest is chiefly in helping individuals to think and stalk through life like a deer. To understand the animal and its behavior is what is going to lead us to desired results. Knowledge after all, is power. The whitetail doesn’t care what we look like, or what caliber or model rifle we carry. Deer hunting is not a competition or having a posse or belonging to some team with perhaps a merit badge to sew onto a uniform. And after all, those that wish to ‘be like Mike’ are only helping Mike get rich, not successfully hunting a big deer.

 

 

Whether you are a seasoned veteran or a newcomer to the sport, Where… The Deer Track Leads is sure to help entertain you and provide valuable insight into your future hunts. And hopefully, when you are finished at the end of those tracks, you will join us in the summary of our belief that,

Until your legs grow weary, and your breath falls short and weak.

You’ll yearn to venture where the deer track leads, for it’s the whitetail king you seek.

We may never know when our seasons fade, or where the final deer track ends.

But when God’s grace shines upon you, it leads to family, fond memories and friends.

 

Today, book number 7, Where…The Deer Track Leads is available in both E-Book and Soft Cover print versions. To obtain your copy simply go to, http://www.thedeertracker.com/tour.

 

(Compiled by editors, colleagues and friends of The Deer Tracker)

All images and text on this site are copyright protected and the property of R.G. Bernier

© 2020 R.G. Bernier Nature Photography – All rights reserved.

  

Posted in: Book Review