Jane Doe This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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The dark blemish on the target disappeared behind the iron sights of my air rifle perfectly. My neck was scalded by the hot July sun as I hunched over my tripod, I held my breath and pulled the trigger without hesitation. With a punctual snap the shot was made and I knew it was an excellent one. In a flurry of excitement I hop-skipped down the hill through the tall grass to the target and inspected my handiwork. The blemish from my previous shot was slightly wider and there were no other marks on the red and white face. If lead pellets were arrows, I’d be Robin Hood. Admittedly proud of myself I laid down my rifle and began to remove the loosely hammered nails from the tree so I could boast to my friends at what a crack shot I was. No sooner had I grasped the top nail, however, than I was startled by a flurry of movement to my right. Adrenaline pumping, I followed.

The soft fertile earth depressed under the toes of my converse low-tops as I pursued but the subject of my fright wasn’t far off. Just as my line of sight crossed over the stonewall I saw it. The most dangerous animal in America, responsible for the most hunting related injuries or deaths: The White Tailed Deer.

She was young, hardly having outgrown her camouflage spots. No more than five yards away from each other we were both petrified. As the moments passed without instance I wish I could say it was silent but I felt a heightened sense of everything around me. The Pattaconk Brook rushed high in response to the recent storm, gnats and mosquitoes competed for space in the dense summer air. It was a heavy sea of dark green and brown, evergreen trees and bark superior to the skunk cabbage blanketing the moist earth. Yet all of that was merely peripheral, my eyes never broke from Jane Doe, and hers from mine.

For the first time I had been on even ground with a wild animal. I thought of the Cro Magnon cavemen and the Native Americans that occupied the land I was standing on in the centuries past. That, however, is history I remembered as the deer took a precarious, silent step towards me. Feeling a sense of ease in this trust, I lifted my trembling size twelve and stepped over the safety of the wall, snapping twigs and crunching leaves when I hit the ground. We both winced at the awkward, clumsy noise. I hadn’t realized it to this point, but when I lifted my arm to hold the sapling maple in front of me, it trembled. With the second step she took I was close enough to see her tremble too.

It was at this point that this point that I realized we had more in common than the class mamalia. Looking into the deer’s deep, black eyes, I saw exactly what I was feeling: anxiety, concentration, trepidation, curiosity, but above all, trust.

Then, with that, she was gone. As if her message had been sent, she took an about face and was off without a sound. Not until having passed the creek and mounting the hill opposite me did she look back, then turning and continuing out of sight. I stayed staring at the mental ghost it left behind, going through the events of the past 45 seconds over and over again.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines an epiphany as follows, “An intuitive grasp of reality through something (as an event) usually simple and striking.” While I suppose its application is relative to the recipient, I’ve never been closer to what I would call an epiphany. I will never forget looking into that deer’s eyes.





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