A Deer in My Headlights

A couple of days ago I ordered a recurve bow online, had it delivered to me the next day, hit a local sportsman’s shop to pick up some arrows and set upon the trial and error ordeal of teaching myself how to shoot the thing and  to hopefully not impale myself in the process.
I shot my new bow about 25 times that first night. Successfully? Well, I did NOT impale myself but didn’t really impale the heck out of my little makeshift target either. But it was soooo fun. I hadn’t shot a bow since my family lived in Japan 40 some odd years ago. I remember it was a nondescript grey fiberglass toyish bow with a small recurve and it was deadly accurate, especially the bow string… on the inside of my left forearm.
Well, I skipped a day of shooting on Wednesday but on Thursday, yesterday I donned my newly acquired, camo t-shirt to “feel” the part and set out to once again destroy my feeble little paper “prey”.
I don’t consider myself a hunter but hunting is something I want to learn, especially with a bow. There is something primal about it that is really appealing to me and fits with how I want to live my life now. I believe that we Humans still possess the ability to fend for and take care of ourselves just as Man did ten thousand years ago. We have opposable thumbs for grasping tools and big brains for grasping how to use those tools and for problem solving. If they can do it their whole, albeit short lives I feel I might become moderately successful at it. I guess I’ll just see about that. Time tells.
If I can learn how to hunt, patiently wait, successfully take and dress game from turkey to deer I will feel I have accomplished more than I could imagine.
So, there I am, on Lewis Creek at my favorite campsite, the scent of freshly mountain rain cleaned air, bear clover and cedar essence filling my nostrils and calming me as it always seems to do, slowing time and heart rate, taking me to Zen. I take bow in hand and begin a new teaching/learning session.
I had taken 30-40 shots and was at times successful and other times not so. I feel my coordination is coming around but I still stumble, like a fledgling raptor just learning to spread his wings and realizing that the wind he seems to catch in them could possibly carry him away some day.
I decided to bring the session to a close, it was getting dark, I was getting tired but I wanted to try to hit the target twice in a row or at least come close before I retired. The next shot was dead center. I retrieved my arrow and got into my stance, took a few breaths as I stared at the ground then looked up to stare into space to gain focus before turning to my target and as I looked up…I can’t remember exactly if it was a noise or a movement that caught my attention… but there, within 15 yards of me was a deer. He was walking through my camp looking at me, probably because He heard me muttering out loud. I looked at him in surprise gripping my bow, arrow nocked, ready to fire and at that moment, though it is not deer season, though I had a target tip on my arrow not a hunting tip, though I did not have the means of dressing out a kill if I were THAT lucky…I began to stalk Him.
I guess I had used my bow enough the last few days to afford me a comfort level that I did not expect, crouching, moving slowly on the soft forest earth quieted by the recent rains, getting closer to my prey…Ever read “Call of the Wild”?…If not taken literally, maybe the dog’s primordial dreams were an analogy for ours. I feel fulfilled in a way this past month, living outside that I hadn’t before… I could see Him, I say, “Him”… Just as a point of fact, the animal was not big, could have been a doe and I didn’t get a good look at His head, I don’t know if there were antler buds. I could see him through the bushes but by then better judgment ruled and all I wanted was to step away from my cover to see him in the clear but I was at least 15 yards behind him and NOT closing fast but I could still see him. And then it happened. Just like in the movies. The inevitable, “snaaapp” of a small twig under my left foot. I froze and watched Him move away in a start. I lost track of him a moment later but was hopeful he would go a few steps as I waited, turn and look for me, not see me and relax enough to allow me to get a clear view but by the time I got moving and got to the edge of the clearing He was gone.
I was HOOKED! What a thrill this moment was for me! Was it a sign that I had finally chosen to do something I was always meant to do? Or could it be that the Spirits were telling me that from what They could tell I couldn’t hit a deer with an arrow if it were sitting next to me in the car…Maybe They were going to give me a little taste of what I will be missing, literally.
As I said, time tells.
I hope it will be telling me, “Come on! Lets go! The Wild Is Calling…”

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It’s Only Money

April 8 2012 @ 8:30am Easter Sunday: I am sitting in the sun like a lizard looking out over the Merced River contemplating events that have occurred and how they will effect the events to come and how one good (that being questionable) investment deserves another even if it’s not in the budget. More on that later but first…The Big Agnes Jackrabbit II tent is a hit! The best camping investment I’ve ever made! Inspired by my purchase of a Big Agnes sleeping bag, oddly enough a bag that I don’t really like because of the lack of down all the way around; it has a sleeve on it’s underside designed to hold a microcellular pad for padding and insulation from the ground, not knowing this upon purchase I had to return to Fresno to buy one…but I digress. I had no trouble setting up the tent, quick and easy, the only test left other than a downpour/hurricane was tearing it down and packing it into it’s duffel bag which i did this morning but let’s take a step back in time…Imagine an old grandfather clock floating through space, it’s hands spinning backwards, Twilight Zone theme in the background…I made a trip to REI a couple of weeks back to purchase a new tent. Dissatisfied with the 4 person tent I picked up at Target for $80.00 recently I decided that in some areas cheap was not the way to go. I needed something lighter, smaller and easier to set up and especially to take down and put away, a need compounded by putting the Target tent away in a cold rain storm the first time I used it. Ever try to roll up a big tent and stuff it back into it’s duffel bag? Yeah? Ever try it in the rain?
The Big Agnes tent was About $300.00 which made me ponder if I was making a good investment. What does it mean when the only example a store has of a product is it’s floor model? Are patrons snapping them up like hotcakes or are they not in stock because they suck and the store just hasn’t dumped the last one yet? These thoughts were running through my head as I watched the sales person try rolling the tent up…Because REI didn’t have any in stock… so I was buying the floor model…You with me?
He was struggling to roll the air out of it while explaining that “vacuum packing” was the “way to go” and I’m thinking, “Vacuum packing? where do I go to buy that?”. I can still see him in my minds eye, his glasses crooked, being crooked, he was trying to look at me and the tent but was having to nod up and down because he could only see through one lens at a time, the same glasses he would put down and later scramble to find, myself wanting to help, the first place I looked was on top of his head, they, not being there prompted me to give up helping. He looked out of his element. Ever see a guy fishing who obviously had never done it before? Ever see a guy roll up a tent…Well, you get the picture. I persevered and bought the tent, how could I not after the struggle this poor fellow put up?
The tent rolled up like I was rolling up my chones! There IS less air at higher elevations, a theory proven, what other explanation is there?
So I am really happy with my new tent, plus it weighs 3 pounds. The Target tent was about 20.

This morning as I rolled out of the sack I glanced across to an adjacent site and found myself looking in the eye of a camper who was not there when I went to bed, rolling up his stuff. I smiled and said, “How ya doin'”, trying my new, more user friendly attitude and was, of course, snubbed. But while I reeled in my “no good deed goes unpunished” anguish I noticed he was backpacking and had a really nice sleeping bag. Dont know what brand but it had that “tuck and roll” look to it, know what I mean? Looked very warm. Now, though I do have my sleeping bag I don’t or haven’t used it since being “out here”, preferring the bedding I have along with my futon but as I was spending twice the time rolling up my bedding as I did the tent it occurred to me that perhaps I’ve been going about this wrong.
I don’t want to spend a lot of money on being “out here” but I am realizing that if I did my life and times would be easier so I think it’s time to go to REI or Herb Bauers and buy a good sleeping bag with “down all around” or a better pad setup for the bag I have, one with out needing air. Air bags tend to not hold air after being rolled up for a while in cold weather. Hmmmmm… I will let you know what I’ve decided in the next episode…

Just a Little Chilly

Woke up to a freezing morning at the power line site on Lewis Creek. Still better than the rain that never came. At the site it was the dampness that made it cold this morning. it was pretty cold the previous evening but a fire helped and a warm bed made it even better. Not until I drove out of there did I realize how cold it was for away from the moving water of the creek, in the still morning air the bear clover was frosted over. Better it than me… Not quite ready to go to work I took a trip to Oakhurst and fell into the Cool Bean Cafe’ to say, “Hello” to Alyssa and Casey, friends and gracious owners, for a hot mug and to add to this little muse of a blog…just a little chilly? Why then, for this moment, do I feel so warm?

Words from Water

Words From Water <—<—<— CLICK THIS LINK FOR VIDEO!!!   Warm fire, 3/4 full moon, Ancient Voices in the water and the rock speak to me, are They? I hear Them but do not know what They say or if They are speaking to me, telling me stories of Their time or teaching me the right path or telling me to seek my spirit guide, oh, but your guide will seek you, everyone knows that, how would I know, or if They are speaking to each other laughing about the lost white man who wants to seek the wild in Our Mother and in himself, oh, he does, does he, be careful of what you wish They may be saying, or are They cursing me, wanting to know why I am in their land, you don’t belong, here or anywhere, you don’t know what you are asking for, you do not even know how to express it and We will not help you… but the fire is of damp wood and should be out already yet it still warms, are They helping…singing, dancing, I know that They have not, these Old Ones, have not danced and sung, at least on this plane since the Sun would chase the Moon from the sky only to follow Her, not knowing She would rise again and rule the sky until He found Her again and He would chase her but was never quite able to catch Her, could They be stoking the flames, for what, but to help warm me or is it that They share it with me, to warm Their own cold and diatomaceous bones as They someday will allow me, an Ancient myself, to share a fire with some other Traveler as I guide him before joining the Voices on a plane of consciousness unknown to me now, I wish I knew, understood, could be there now…patience…until then I will listen…

The Sun Sets on My Day…

March 27 2012: Tonight I returned to the Deer Run bridge to stay one more night. Though it will most likely rain the snow level will be much higher so that nasty likelihood will be a slim one. I was able to get out of camp fairly quickly this morning. The rain will force me to speed things up but at least I don’t have to fold up a tent.
I like this spot. It’s a nice enough view though I’ve seen it…Spoiled, I guess…and I only had perhaps 4 vehicles drive past which is good because I don’t need someone telling me to move off and the more drivers that happen by the more likely that could happen. There is a spot about 60 yards further down the trail that is far more secluded and I don’t know if I’ll be back here tomorrow night but if I am the other site will be a suitable place. Close but different. For now, however, I prefer this spot. Though serenity and seclusion are what I will seek soon, for now staying closer to civilization feels comforting as I wean myself from it. The nights are dark and an occasional headlight rolling by will break that up a bit.
It’s 7:05pm now. Don’t know the temperature. Don’t know last nights. But it is getting colder and I think as I settle in I’ll grab the North Face jacket to put over me just for an extra layer.
I wonder if anyone else is doing and feeling and expressing the same things I am right now. Could that be their headlights I see in the distance?