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Hunting the Hard Way

Early morning sun catches my eye as it peeks over the horizon. It seems I am at odds with the world this morning. Already a crow has found my hideout in the tree branches, and pointed me out to his comrades as a spy for the human kind among the oaks. Only minutes later, the squirrel that emerged from the ball of dried leaves in a high fork betrays my location with a series of shrill barks, and I’m sure that every deer within twelve miles knows of my plan and will steer clear of this patch of woods from now until two hours after sunset this evening. 

Once the alarm calls fade, all is quiet again, too quiet. It is always coldest after daylight, and I sit shivering, without so much as a wren or finch scratching around in the leaves, or hopping from branch to branch to entertain me. For two hours I sit with nothing but thoughts of a warm bed to occupy my time.

Forlorn and desperate for some sort of action, I lower my bow to the ground and climb down from the tree. I need to do some moving around to stay warm, so I ease along through the creek bottom to the swamp where the deer are known to bed down during the day.

Hunting on foot is difficult and risky as far as spooking game, especially whitetail deer. But I move at a snail’s pace; taking a couple steps, pausing to scan my surroundings, and looking for anything that resembles a deer.

My best arrow is on the string of my recurve bow, a finger holding it to the arrow rest. My other hand is ready to draw the instant a deer presents me with a shot. I ease on, slowly stalking the treeline, into the dead brown grasses and cattails on the swamp edge. I find a trail where deer have worn down the vegetation, and I follow it with caution. 

There’s a dead tree limb hidden under the laid-down weeds, and when I step on it, the cracking sound is enough to jolt a young buck from cover, and it leaps wildly from the thick brush to the left of me, and it comes crashing across the path in front of me and runs off to my right, white tail waving like a flag.

I stand slack-jawed and stunned, and just before it goes out of sight, I raise my bow, and imagine what it would be like if I’d had the chance to have taken the shot.


  1. Great piece. Sometimes the shot not taken is the most memorable.

    1. Yes it is, Henry. What I am mostly hunting for is myself. The glimpse and chance at game is one of life's extras.


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