The Hunter

November 13, 2011
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Invisible to the untrained eye, as silent as a lifeless body, and as still as a rock, I sit and wait. The cold winter breeze sends chills down my spine as I ever so slightly turn to the left. Just barley above the horizon of golden brown soybeans, peaks the dark orange sun. While taking a deep breath of the crisp, cold air, my nose is filled with the scent of fall leaves and the slight smell of camouflage paint that disguises my face. Fog has just begun to creep into the woods, covering the ground with its mixture of red, orange, and yellow leaves. I watch as a bright yellow leaf floats to the ground and disappears into the dense fog below.
Turning to the left, my eyes instantly begin to adjust to the dark woods and its shadowy trees. An eerie silence fills the woods with only the occasional sound of leaves landing on the ground. I begin to think that no life lives in these woods, that I’m alone with no company. Remembering my father’s wise words, “There is always silence before sound,” I intently wait for my prey.
I grip my weapon ever so tightly as my fingers begin to feel winter’s harsh embrace. I hear my father’s voice: “Never let the fingers be still. Always keep them moving.” My father has taught me many ways to fight off one of my worst enemies; the cold.
Crunch, crack, sounds of life pierce the silence of the woods. Birds begin to awaken, sing their morning songs, and fly from tree to tree. The hyper, agile birds fill the woods with noise. I then think to myself, ‘Finally, my game has begun.’
A loud crack to my right catches me off guard, and I slowly turn my head and look. My eyes squint as bright light from the sun causes my eyes to burn. I frantically try to look for the source of the sound but only see a shadow dart behind a tree. My heart races, adrenaline surges through my veins, and my senses seem to improve significantly. However, on the outside, my body is completely still and lifeless, as if part of the tree. I’m higher, much higher than my enemy and have the advantage of stealth on my side. Then, from the dense fog that still covers parts of the woods, the shadow darts towards another tree. I grip my weapon even tighter and listen to every crunch, snap, and rustle I hear behind the tree. Suddenly, the shadow reveals itself. A squirrel, a small brown squirrel, walks from behind the tree. My heart swiftly returns to its normal beat, and I let out a quiet sigh.
The squirrel is not my mission; he is not my prey; he is merely a friend, not a friend to me, but a friend to my enemy. “The squirrels usually wake first after the birds,” I remember my father telling me. “Be cautious, check your weapon, and ready yourself, because soon your mission will awaken.” I do just this; I slowly inspect my weapon, being sure it’s loaded correctly, that the sights are working, and that it will do its job. Having held this weapon for a good two hours already and having practiced with it for many more, the smooth metal stings my fingers. I have held this weapon for a good two hours already, and I have practiced with it for many more. As if it’s an extended part of my body, I am confident with this weapon. I know its strengths and its weaknesses.
As I turn to my left, I quickly freeze. There standing, not but fifty yards from the tree, is my mission. He is the ghost of the woods, and he is my prey. The sun gleams on his golden brown coat, and with every breath, steam shoots from his nose. ‘Does he see me or not?’ I ask myself twenty times. I watch, waiting for my moment, waiting for him to make his fatal mistake that will leave me the victor. As if I’m not there, he walks closer. My heart pounds inside my chest, and I grip my weapon so tightly my knuckles turn white. ‘He doesn’t know where I am,’ I think to myself. He walks even closer, making the gentlest crunch with every step. Every single muscle in his body quivers; his ears twitch to the slightest sound, and as he turns slightly to my right, I finally realize how large he is. I estimate his height to be 110 inches. Twenty yards now separates us, and he is close enough that I can see his brown eyes. ‘He is in range. As soon as he stops, I’m going to take the shot.’ I pull my weapon up, very slowly, and put the sights on him. With extreme caution, I turn the safety off and place my finger on the icy cold trigger. Suddenly, he freezes, my heart stops as I freeze as well. A loud bang rings in a different woods; birds take off, and squirrels climb up their trees. He then bolts towards to the right. With his white tail straight up in the air and his ears on alert, he dives into the denser brush. His antlers snap the low hanging branches, and I can hear him tear his way through the brush. Eventually, the snaps and crunches fade in the distance. His wide shoulders and enormous body is forever burned into my memory.
I have missed my chance. Another hunter has shot at his mission and scared mine away. The ten-point buck I’ve been hunting lives to see another day. He has been granted today’s good luck, but I will be back tomorrow to challenge it.

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Warriorsfan said...
Nov. 19, 2011 at 11:33 pm
Wow!I felt like I was in your footsteps!That is some detailing talent you got there!Man!You seem like you know what you're doing when you hunt...I hunt too!I just hunt smaller game.If you want to read about my first hunt you should read my article Hunter's Pride.I really like this and I wish there were more like this where hunters will speak up!:D
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