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Book traces long kinship between humans and deer

The book cover of "Age of Deer."
The book cover of "Age of Deer."

If you're a Northeast Ohio resident, chances are, you see deer everywhere. Because of human population growth and our expanding footprint, we're now, more than ever, living in close proximity to deer.

They might not be the most common wildlife we come across, but they'll often make their ways into residential gardens, feed in small groups in a public park, and, unfortunately, end up on the sides of roads and highways as the result of vehicular collisions.

In her new book "The Age of Deer: Trouble and Kinship with our wild Neighbors," Erika Howsare examines this long relationship.

Ideastream Public Media Coordinating Producer caught up with Howsare for a discussion on the “Sound of Ideas.”

Howsare opens the book discussing the space deer occupy in myths and religious beliefs across the globe. They also loom large in our American mythos.

They were integral in the early days of colonial settlements. That importance took on new aesthetics as we moved through the 19th and 20th centuries.

Howsare says she thinks the size and shape of deer are why they figure so prominently in the myths of so many cultures. She says when a deer stands erect and faces us, it’s pretty much at eye level with an adult. If you’re a pre-industrial human, out there in the woods hunting deer for sustenance, chances are you’re getting close enough to look that animal right in the eyes before you take its life.

Writing about deer hunting, Howsare raises some interesting questions in her book. Mainly they're about how we identify ourselves, as supporters or opponents of hunting. She never advocates for one position or the other, but simply stands back as an observer, and writes about who hunts and why.

Howsare’s also reflects in the book on who is more in tune with nature and her conclusions are though-provoking.

You can listen to the full interview by clicking on the listen button at the top of the page.

-Erika Howsare, Author

Drew Maziasz is a coordinating producer for the "Sound of Ideas" and also serves as the show’s technical producer.