He sits in the blind. Eye’s wide and ready for any sign of movement. Any twig snapped in the area would immediately garner his attention. But the silence of the forest was constant, like the forest was playing tricks on him. He could almost hear the trees laughing at him.
It has been six hours since his dreams had been suddenly interrupted by his father, dragging him out of his bed to embark on the trip his father had been so passionate about going on. The love and passion his father had for the sport was unmatched. But Ben too had a great love for hunting. Ben had killed many great deer in his time, but the next deer many hunters would be hunting for was far greater than the rest. This certain deer, roaming the deep woods of Northern Michigan had avoided the shots of some of the best hunters in the area, it was elusive, almost like a ghost. Killing this majestic deer could vault Ben into a level unmatched by anyone his age, and it could achieve the lifelong dream of his father, who had many expectations for Ben
But killing the deer would be a struggle for Ben. Killing any deer would. Though he had a passion for the art of hunting, and he was one of the best of his age, Ben had a deep feeling of sorrow and regret every time he killed an animal. Pulling the trigger was as much a struggle to Ben as he had ever had. Many times he had faked feeling sick when spotting a deer near his blind. He had tried to avoid as many kills as he could. He tried telling his father the truth as much as he could, but his father only took things as a joke. His father had said hunting was the best sport there was, and Ben knew that he had to agree with his father, his father couldn’t be wrong.
He sat in the car next to his father, on their way to their family favorite, thousand acre hunting land of Reed Ranch in Northern Michigan. His grandfather had bought the land many years ago, and many great hunts had been held there. His father's old, worn down truck pulled into the dirt road that led to his favorite hunting spot deep in the great woods he loved dearly. When they got to the area, Ben’s father jumped out of the car enthusiastically like a kid going to get the toy he wanted for so long. Ben grabbed his rifle and all his gear and headed up to his blind that his father handcrafted. The blind seemed invisible, and was ever so slightly seen by any eye. His father was a wizard, and Ben appreciated his hard work. He set up his gear, ate a granola bar, and got his rifle ready to hunt. The thought of that great deer sat in the back of Ben’s mind. He knew that killing it would make his father the happiest man in the world. But Ben didn’t know if he even wanted to see that deer during this hunt.
The first few hours of the hunt were uneventful. A few doe but no big bucks. Many mixed emotions flooded his mind as he sat there waiting. He knew he was waiting for a certain deer, and he also knew that meant he was waiting for a very hard decision to make. He just waited.
And then it appeared. He knew by the elegant white hair and the huge size that this was it. This was it. “All my accomplishments as a hunter and this could be the pinnacle,” he thought to himself. As hundreds of emotions shot through him, he raised his rifle and pointed it at the heart of the ghost. He had the shot. This was it. The hidden blind, the blind his father made couldn’t be seen by the deer. Oh how proud his father would be. How proud he would be to see his son shoot the ghost. Ben’s finger brushed the trigger... And then he stopped, like he had nerves of steel in this difficult situation. He set his gun down, and just looked out into the wilderness. Ben followed his beliefs at that moment, not his father's. Eventually, the deer that would’ve given him everything, just walked away, like nothing ever happened. Ben saw the last glimpse of the deer’s beauty as it disappeared in the wind, just like a ghost. And just like that, it was over.
He walked back to the cabin where himself and his father stayed while up at Reed Ranch. He was pretty sure he heard the trees singing now. The beautiful harmony sounded right. He got inside, laid down, and just starting thinking. He remembers his dad always calling hunting the best sport there is, but Ben thought, “in a sport, both sides should know they’re in the game.”
Soon, Ben’s hunting days were over, and though this had upset his father, even that man, the one who lived and prayed by hunting, had understood.