Moment of Truth

By , holtwood, PA
The moment of truth I had been dreaming of all week long was before me. It happened so quickly. One second tranquility and not a movement was around me, and the next all havoc had broken loose. I shook out of control, and I could not keep steady. This opportunity of a lifetime was before me. Would I succeed or fail?

Eight hours earlier, I awoke to the alarm clock at four-thirty in the morning. I lumbered out of my bed and gathered supplies I would need for my adventure that day. I greeted my dad with a grunt as he smacked me jokingly and told me to “Wake up.” We walked outside into the crisp, below freezing, December morning. After piling all the gear and ourselves into the truck, we headed out for the short drive to a parking lot along the state game lands near our house. We parked along with the ten other cars all there for the same reason as my dad and I. After we gathered everything we needed we headed out into the woods just as the sunlight was creeping up the eastern sky.

We had no idea where we were going. The only idea we had was that our destination was farther than most hunters would go, and in terrain that only the foolish dare. The place was the cliffs along the Susquehanna river. Never being there before, we blindly plowed through the briars that were as thick as they come. They would catch your hat and pull it off, and as you were reaching for it, they would find any bare flesh and rip at it leaving tiny specks of blood. After trudging for forty-five minutes, although it felt like two hours, we reached the top of the cliff overlooking the river. Peering down over the side I spotted a small overhang that looked like a spot that I could perch on and watch down over. As I headed down the steep cliff to the overhang, my dad went back into the woods a bit and tried a different spot.

The view was stunning, I had a great view of the Normanwood bride and Holtwood dam. They both spread the width of the mighty Susquehanna river. I could see the cars speeding across the bridge and the water rushing over the dam hundreds of feet below me. The islands spotted the river like a connect the dots puzzle. The birds were flying every which way like they didn’t have a care in the world. The woods were still. That was until twelve-thirty when I spotted a few deer headed my direction. Single file they slowly curved their way towards the small open lane down the cliff. These deer were safe, because they were only doe, not what I was after. The deer I was hoping would be following this group was the one I wanted, the one with giant antlers. Why I had such a zeal towards this deer I did not understand. About ten minutes after spotting the first deer, the large brute of a deer showed itself. Would it follow the others to the spot where I could take a shot at it, or would it outsmart me and take a different trail?

The deer acted as I was hoping it would; the massive animal went directly where I needed it to. The adrenaline pumping through me made it impossible to stay steady to make the shot. Somehow I rested the crosshairs on the shoulder of the buck and squeezed the trigger. The shot brought the woods to life. Deer were running in every direction, a few stood confused at what was going on. The buck dashed away, and to me it looked unharmed. Questions immediately raced through my mind. “Did I miss? Did I hit one of the many saplings on the hillside? Did I just mess up the chance of a lifetime?” After slowly creeping down the steep slope my dad and I started looking for blood. A half hour passed, no blood. An hour passed, no blood. My emotions were at the lowest of low. I thought I had missed.

When we spotted a large pool of dark blood among the leaves my spirits soared. We had been looking in the wrong spot because the woods looked so different from my perch ninety yards up. I followed the trail that ran horizontal to the hillside and instantly the blood trail stopped. After a few confusing seconds I turned and saw him. He had died and because of the steep slope slid down the cliff until he wedged under a log. The hillside was so steep our balled up jackets rolled down it with ease until they entangled in a tree. Because of that steep terrain, it took six hours to get this buck out of the woods. Had I missed I would have never been able to forgive myself, but in the end it was a perfect shot that finished with a memory of a lifetime.





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