Where the Deer and the Antelope Play: The Pastoral Observations of One Ignorant American Who Loves to Walk Outside - book cover
  • Publisher : Dutton
  • Published : 12 Oct 2021
  • Pages : 352
  • ISBN-10 : 1101984694
  • ISBN-13 : 9781101984697
  • Language : English

Where the Deer and the Antelope Play: The Pastoral Observations of One Ignorant American Who Loves to Walk Outside

A humorous and rousing set of literal and figurative sojourns as well as a mission statement about comprehending, protecting, and truly experiencing the outdoors, fueled by three journeys undertaken by actor, humorist, and New York Times bestselling author Nick Offerman

Nick Offerman has always felt a particular affection for the Land of the Free—not just for the people and their purported ideals but to the actual land itself: the bedrock, the topsoil, and everything in between that generates the health of your local watershed. In his new book, Nick takes a humorous, inspiring, and elucidating trip to America's trails, farms, and frontier to examine the people who inhabit the land, what that has meant to them and us, and to the land itself, both historically and currently.  

In 2018, Wendell Berry posed a question to Nick, a query that planted the seed of this book, sending Nick on two memorable journeys with pals—a hiking trip to Glacier National Park with his friends Jeff Tweedy and George Saunders, as well as an extended visit to his friend James Rebanks, the author of The Shepherd's Life and English Pastoral. He followed that up with an excursion that could only have come about in 2020—Nick and his wife, Megan Mullally, bought an Airstream trailer to drive across (several of) the United States. These three quests inspired some “deep-ish" thinking from Nick, about the history and philosophy of our relationship with nature in our national parks, in our farming, and in our backyards; what we mean when we talk about conservation; and the importance of outdoor recreation, all subjects very close to Nick's heart. 

With witty, heartwarming stories and a keen insight into the human problems we all confront, this is both a ramble through and celebration of the land we all love.

Editorial Reviews

*An Amazon Best of the Month Pick*

"The book is an amiable ramble outdoors, with Offerman sharing his assorted experiences in the wild and his musings on nature, land use, labor, agriculture and community."
-USA Today
"Honest-to-God advice about how to enjoy nature."
-Outside Magazine

"Offerman brings dry humor and a reverence for nature and physical labor to his growing understanding of capitalist and colonial horrors, all while maintaining hope for the future." 
-Seattle Times

"A timely hybrid travelogue/manifesto about the utter importance of touching grass, and so much more."
-Fast Company

"A great mix of wit and perceptive observation from travels in the United States and the United Kingdom…with a surprising amount of history, nature, and ecology thrown in."
-Library Journal

"Laced with humor, intellect and fierce passion, Where the Deer and the Antelope Play is an entertaining getaway to a variety of unexpected American vistas.

Readers Top Reviews

paul wasilewski
If you like the outdoors you will love this book.Funny stories and really makes you want to get out and have your own adventure.
My thanks to NetGalley and Dutton publishers for an ebook ARC of this title. I read this not only for Offerman, but also because a large chunk of the book is taken up by a trip to the Glacier National Park - with Jeff Tweedy and George Saunders! We also get to spend time later with Wendell Berry. And then he and wife Megan Mullally buy an Airstream, and travel the US during COVID. Offerman writes with his usual dry humor, but he also has opinions. Strong opinions. Not just a book of travels and hikes and adventures, but also of ideas on how nature should be treated, and saved. As well as our democracy. A thoroughly enjoyable book of humor and adventures and ideas.
Offerman's writing style, wry wit, and humor shine through in all his works, Where the Deer and the Antelope Play being no exception. Offerman's views on sustainability, land use, and experiencing nature, are on full display in this novel. It also gives a glimpse and helps put into focus how our world has changed due to CVOID-19 and the ways we can still enjoy nature, and ourselves. The best compliment I can give this book is that I need to get outside!

Short Excerpt Teaser


In many ways, the inception of this book occurred one score and five years ago, when I was working on a production of Sam Shepard's Buried Child at Chicago's excellent Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Back then, I had been well on my way to a comfortable life of blind materialism, hopefully emulating one of David Lee Roth's insouciant, musical short films I had newly come to adore on a brilliant new cable channel, simply called-get this: Music Television. Little did I suspect that by the time that play had closed, the trajectory of my life would be forever altered.
Sam himself had come to town to do some rewriting and polishing on his script, even though it had won him a Pulitzer Prize back in 1979. I guess he didn't entirely agree with the Pulitzer folks. That was certainly his prerogative, and I guess that's what made him so damn handsome, I mean smart. The production was a pretty big deal, directed as it was by Steppenwolf founding member Gary Sinise, and starring some honest-to-god hotshots like Lois Smith, Ted Levine, Kellie Overbey, Ethan Hawke, and the late, great James Gammon. Gary, a legendary actor and director, also happens to be an awfully generous fellow, if you're ever lucky enough to meet him-he always treated me quite equitably, even though the first time we met I was unaware his name was pronounced "Suh-neese," and I said, "It's nice to meet you, Mr. Sinus."
Despite that initial gaffe, Gary hired me as an understudy for the show and also as a makeup artist, to apply old-age makeup to James Gammon every night, just by way of some stippling and painted modeling with highlights and shadows, nothing fancy. I had a scenery shop in the warehouse where I lived, or I guess to be accurate I should say I had a futon and a hotplate in the warehouse where I cohabitated with my table saw and my pin nailers. I had also previously made some props for Steppenwolf, including some masks for Alex and his Droogs in A Clockwork Orange, a play in which I also appeared and served as fight captain. All of which is to say, I was lucky as hell to be the jack-of-all-trades gofer kid running around the theatre the night Sam Shepard corralled me, slipped me $40, and told me to go get him a bottle of Maker's Mark.
Now, I had gone to theatre school in Urbana-Champaign in the late eighties and early '90s, which means that Sam Shepard was still the biggest rock star cowboy playwright in America (not to mention Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff-heart-eyes emoji) when he sent me to get him a very specific handle of Kentucky straight bourbon, which means that I was high as a kite as I sprinted a block each in three different directions to score the bottle before realizing there was no liquor store within sprinting distance. Son of a bitch! I had been gone at least seven minutes, and I was beginning to panic-if I could but successfully score him this whisky, there's no reason that it might not specifically fuel some innovative rewrites in rehearsal that night that could make the Pulitzer committee realize they had better take things up a notch and award Buried Child a first-ever second Pulitzer! Inspired, I finally streaked into the Argentinian restaurant on the corner and found a bartender to take pity on me. He fetched me the bottle, which I gingerly cradled as I cautiously high-stepped it back to the theatre.
In hindsight, acquiring intoxicants for your playwright before rehearsal begins is probably not ever a good idea. That fact began to dawn on me that very night shortly after I had deposited the Maker's Mark at Sam's seat in the audience, just before his significant other, Jessica Lange, arrived to join him. Her mood didn't seem great, and there was some quiet but stern talking happening, and it dawned on me that maybe the reason he surreptitiously sent the gofer kid out for booze was because he wasn't supposed to be having it. I honestly don't know if that was the case, or how the evening played out between them, but I recall being painfully aware of the shift in tone the experience took: what had started out as a thrilling, personal, whisky-flavored interaction starring me and America's greatest living playwright that left me breathless and blushing (I'm Sam Shepard's Kentucky candy man!) ended with the banal reality of a (terrific-looking) middle-aged couple just doing their work and dealing with whatever individual circumstances they each brought to the table that night. My few years at Steppenwolf were invaluable for teaching me that, at the end of the day, every person puts their pants on just the same as me (even if these two people were packing some top-drawer buttocks into those britches), and it was just one in a lifelong string of reminders that the more I focused my attention on myself, the stupider I behaved; and the more I focused on o...