Mason County News
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Wednesday, September 15, 2010 • Posted September 15, 2010

So I was sitting in a conference room at the hotel in La Porte, Indiana, listening to a nice lady trying to tell a bunch of writers how to do something better (write, maybe), when this fellow walked in and sat down beside me. We introduced ourselves, shook, and started talking a little bit. He was a nice guy named Dennis Dunn, from Seattle or someplace. He was tall, slender, and mostly gray-headed. Friendly guy.

Pretty quick Dennis asked me if I was a bowhunter, and I told him I was. So then he proceeded to tell me about the book he’d written, in which he chronicled his many experiences while successfully shooting at least one each of all 29 species of big game animals in North America. I started to tell him I had also written a book, but he didn’t really give me a chance. Later I was kind of glad he hadn’t.

While Dennis was explaining his book to me I was trying to picture it. I failed. He told me it was a ‘sort of combination coffee table book’ and something else, but I can’t remember what the something else was. As it turns out the book is definitely a coffee table book, and is still mostly all ‘something else.’

The story is pretty interesting, because Dennis happens to be the first human to have killed one each of the North American Big Game 29 shooting barebow, which is why he called his book ‘Barebow.’ As it happens, I also shoot barebow, which means shooting a bow with no sighting device of any kind. It’s kind of like throwing a baseball, where you just look where you want to shoot and let ‘er rip. It takes a lot of practice to shoot very well that way, which is why most archers use sights. Me, I don’t use sights because I’m tight. Those things aren’t cheap.

When I finally saw a copy of Dennis’s book, I thought he might have told me it was actually a coffee table, instead of a coffee table book. The thing is about the size of a concrete block, and weighs a lot more. This is a book that could wind up as Exhibit A in a murder trial. I was kind of surprised it didn’t come with wheels. I didn’t even try to pick it up.

It evidently took Dennis about 40 years to get around to all of the 29 species of animals in the book, and then it took him about 3½ years to write about it. So I was kind of glad I hadn’t mentioned my book, which weighs about ten ounces, and took me maybe a couple of months to put together. It was kind of embarrassing.

The biggest difference, though, between my book and Barebow is that mine costs fifteen bucks, and Barebow will set you back a C note. Well, there’s also the pictures, but I don’t consider that a big deal, since my uncle, Jim Swafford, did the illustrations for mine, and he did an outstanding job. Dennis put a lot of fancy photos and prints of famous paintings in his book, but I’m thinking if the writing is good enough you don’t need all that. Or something.

And then, after I got home, I got an email from The Media Group about Dennis and Barebow, and I found out a lot more stuff about him. And I was kind of glad I didn’t know all of it before.

Dennis grew up in Seattle, graduated cum laude from Harvard, and got a masters degree from the University of Washington. He taught high school French, and married Congresswoman Jennifer Blackburn Dunn. Then he quit teaching and went into politics. He was elected Chairman of the King County Republican Party, and then elected GOP National Committeeman for the state of Washington. He finally quit as the Vice-Chairman of the RNC to become a securities broker. He was later appointed as the Northwest Regional Chairman of the Metropolitan Opera National Council. Other than that he’s been pretty much idle, so it’s no wonder he had plenty of time to bowhunt.

The book, I have to admit, is impressive, even if it did take Dennis 3½ years to write. Plus, I guess if you compare it to mine pound for pound, it’s really not all that much more expensive. It’s got lots of pictures of really beautiful animals and scenery and whatnot, and if you have a copy of it you won’t have to worry about anyone getting off with your coffee table. If they did you could find them pretty easily, at the nearest chiropractor’s office. And if all that weren’t enough, Barebow could be used to chock your car tires if necessary.

The only problem is that it’s not funny. And, as Bill Shakespeare once said, "Writing, above all, should make people laugh. Or something."

So if you need a book you could prop against your door to keep burglars out, buy a copy of Barebow. If you want a book you can actually carry around and read, buy mine. Because, as my publisher once said, "Writing, above all, should make money. Or something . . ."

Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist whose book, The Buck Never Got Here, is available on Amazon. Or something. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or

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