Walt Disney's animated feature film "Bambi," (1942), based on the 1923 children's novel, Bambi: A Life in the Woods by Felix Salten, has left its mark on the psyche of generations of young children, who tearfully watch Bambi lose his mother due to a hunter's bullet.
Since "Bambi" targets audiences of women and children, it makes daddy's recreational deer hunting trip seem cruel and it turns daddy, the hunter, into a bad guy.
Hunters are not the only people to have trouble with "Bambi." According to movie critic Roger Ebert, "Bambi," is "a parable of sexism, nihilism, and despair, portraying absentee fathers and passive mothers in a world of violence."
Fess Parker, who played coonskin cap-wearing hunter heroes in Disney's blockbuster "Davy Crockett" film and the very popular "Daniel Boone" TV series, assures me that when Walt Disney made "Bambi" he had no intention of making an animal rights movie.
"Bambi" was originally billed by Disney as "a great love story." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bambi.
And as WWII was under way when it came out, it probably spoke to the fears of children and wives of that era with gun-toting hunters chasing members as symbols of the war.
So, for that time, maybe it was a kind of metaphoric love story.
Today, "Bambi" is hailed as an anti-hunting epic that sends a very early message to kids that hunting is bad and cruel.
In traditional cultures, kids grow up hearing stories and songs about heroes that give them role models. Mythic tales, such as the Navajo Deerhuntingway, where talking deer teach a hunter about conservation, set cultural norms and teach about ethics and good woodsmanship.
Kids love stories and books, but there are next to no children's books out there that present modern hunters as positive role models. Thanks to author J.J. Reich, that's changing.
Reich has just come out with two colorful, richly-illustrated kids' books — Deer Dad and Snort, Wheeze, Rattle and Grunt — about a family that hunts, the Kampps. These books are just what the modern hunter needs to give to his kids for they both entertain and educate.
The 32-page hardcover, Deer Dad, illustrated by Johnathan Kuehl, is the first of a series designed for ages 3-7. Kids will love the warm-hearted storyline.
The father, Jack Kampp, seeks to educate his son about deer by dressing up and acting like one. The son, loving the story, can't wait until it's time for him to join dad in the woods.
The 64-page hardcover, Snort, Wheeze, Rattle and Grunt, designed for 8-12 year-olds, is about a day deer hunting where Kampp's son learns about calls, rattles, habitat, and hunting methods, and his dad bags a buck.
Two more pro-hunting kids books from Reich — one about duck hunting and the other about wild turkeys — are due out in July.
These books may not yet be in your local bookstore. Priced at $14.99 each, you can order them directly from J.J. Reich at from Kampptales and receive copies autographed by the author.
James Swan — who has appeared in more than a dozen feature films, including "Murder in the First" and "Star Trek: First Contact," as well as the television series "Nash Bridges," "Midnight Caller" and "Modern Marvels" — is the author of the book "In Defense of Hunting." Click to purchase a copy. To learn more about Swan, visit his Web site.