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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