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A Fever for Fiction

Writer Ben Rehder started in the advertising field before turning to novel writing. His first book, Buck Fever, is a comic crime novel set in Blanco County. Buck Fever and subsequent books in the series follow game warden John Marlin and his adventures solving mysteries involving white-tailed deer, both real and fake.

How did you come up with the book’s plot?

Rehder: “I used to listen to the radio in the deer blind. I heard about a story about a drug mule — people who smuggle drugs — coming from some country. This particular person had swallowed a lot of condoms filled with drugs, gotten on an airplane and flown into the U.S., but got busted when one of them ruptured. Back then, you could still import deer from Mexico into Texas, so I began to wonder, couldn’t you do something similar with a white-tailed deer? You make a little incision, stuff him full of drugs, sew him up and bring him across the border? That’s where the idea came from. It wasn’t long after that TPWD said you can’t import deer anymore, but fortunately, I wrote the book before that law went in place.”


How do you accurately portray whitetails and hunting?

Rehder: “When writing scenes that involve hunting, game wardens and deer, it’s as factual as I can make it. I’ve been a hunter for at least 35 years. I know a lot about deer. If I’m going to describe it, I try to have a grasp for how a deer might behave, how large it might be, how many antlers, how much it weighs when it’s field dressed, what sort of Boone and Crockett score it might get. I’ve written articles about deer for Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine. I (also) wrote about game wardens over the years.

“Other times, I’m being hyperbolic. My books are meant to be almost farcical. They may not necessarily reflect reality because that’s the nature of them. In Buck Fever’s opening scene, a man is dressed in a deer costume, and he ends up getting shot by poachers. In real life, it would be very difficult for someone to dress in a deer costume enough to be convincing. But in the world of fiction, you create the world you want to create.”


Do you have any characters who you tend to relate to more?

Rehder: “It’s funny because John Marlin is the stand-up, respectable game warden, and there might be a tiny fraction of me in there, but my wife says I’m more like Red and Billy, the rednecks who are known to skirt the laws on occasion and do some things they shouldn’t be doing. I think a lot of people can relate to them because they’re not just outlaws. They’ve got good hearts, and they’re funny and fun. I kind of relate to them, to be honest.”

A GUIDE TO WHITE-TAILED DEER

(Almost) Everything Whitetail

In the Wild: Focus On the Eyes

In The Wild: Leave Fawns Alone

In the Wild: What the Rut?!

Before the Hunt: The Epicenter of Deer Research

Before the Hunt: Stay Safe in Deer Camp

Before the Hunt: Learn Before You Leave

Before the Hunt: The Ten Commandments of Firearm Safety

The Hunt: Becoming a Deer Hunter

The Hunt: Public Hunting

The Hunt: Become a Legend

The Harvest: A Life-like Vision

The Harvest: Wall-to-Wall Antlers

The Harvest: Ancient Rock Stars?

The Harvest: Hunters for the Hungry

The Feast: Venison Backstrap Stuffed with Pecan and Cranberry

The Feast: How to Butterfly and Truss a Loin

The Feast: Oh-So-Spicy Venison Ribs

The Feast: Venison Loin

The Feast: Venison Sourdough Toast

The Feast: Cooking Tips from Tim Love


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