Lily Raff McCaulou ’02 is the author of the memoir Call of the Mild: Learning to Hunt My Own Dinner (Grand Central Publishing), which was published in June. She was raised as a gun-fearing environmentalist and an animal lover and stuck by the principle that harming animals is wrong.
But her views changed when she left an indie film production career in New York to take a reporting job in central Oregon. For her articles, she began spending weekends fly-fishing and weekdays interviewing hunters and found that some of them were quite thoughtful about their relationship with animals and the environment. She eventually met her husband Scott, who took her fly-fishing.
Raff McCaulou writes about her decision to learn how to hunt—attending a Hunter Safety course designed for children, buying her first rifle, and field dressing an elk and serving it for dinner. She dispels some negative stereotypes about hunters and tackles large issues surrounding a sometimes misunderstood American practice and pastime. She also explores the role of the hunter in the 21st century, the tension between hunters and environmentalists, and new models of sustainable and ethical food procurement.
In a recent review of the book in the San Francisco Chronicle, Liz Colville writes: “McCaulou’s forthright and well-researched approach to this memoir, her first book, clearly conveys her message that there is a right way to hunt and to be active in both the American hunting community and the conservationist community. She lets us in on personal events, including two tragic family deaths, to show us how a newfound understanding of death helped evolve her identity as a hunter. And when sharing the deep knowledge she’s amassed about central Oregon and its wildlife, her writing is evocative and inspiring, and it will encourage all manner of nature lovers to forge a deeper connection to their surroundings.”
Raff McCaulou lives in Bend, Oregon and writes a twice-weekly column for the Bend Bulletin. In 2010, she completed a prestigious Knight-Wallace journalism fellowship at the University of Michigan, where she researched this book.