When he is not writing for popular magazines, Ted Kerasote lives a spartan life close to nature beside the Grand Teton mountain range. To sustain himself, he occasionally hunts down one of the magnificent elk in the region. This is legal, but it clearly disturbs him, since most of the people with whom Kerasote feels some kinship seem opposed to hunting. To explain to himself and to others why such hunting is acceptable, Kerasote has produced BLOODTIES, an intriguing mixture of storytelling, personal narrative, and philosophic speculation on the status of hunting in the twentieth century.

Part 1 is an account of the life of hunters in Greenland, where hunting is done not for sport but subsistence. The animals killed by these hunters provide everything their families need: food, clothing, shelter, materials for barter. Part 2, in contrast, relates the adventures of a party of big-game hunters stalking rare bighorn sheep in Siberian Russia. These men pay thousands of dollars to travel the world collecting trophies hunt to satisfy egos which know no bounds; they often do not recognize legal restrictions, as Kerasote notes almost with glee when one of them is caught and imprisoned for violating various export laws.

In Part 3, Kerasote describes his own lifestyle, showing how hunting is an integral part of sustaining himself off the land. The kind of hunting Kerasote does is radically different from that practiced by the trophy hunters whom he despises. For him, it is a mystical experience, an engagement with nature that allows him to participate in the cycle of life which has gone on for millennia; in Kerasote’s view, men who hunt as he does (and presumably, as the Greenlanders do) are simply fulfilling a biological destiny. To hunt in the way Kerasote does is to live as nature intended man to live—in harmony with the other creatures of the earth.