Thursday, December 2, 2010

Gone Hunting

The first Monday after Thanksgiving is the start of rifle season for whitetail deer, an unofficial Pennsylvania holiday.  I have been participating off and on since I was twelve.  Now, in 2008, I was once again traveling north with my hunting buddies.  My enthusiasm for sitting in the cold woods has waned over the last few years, but I know the overall experience has always been positive.
The first morning I was at my stand before sunrise. The day turned into a quiet meditation. A few doe wandered by early, but otherwise there was no activity.
The second day finds me in the woods again, but I am not optimistic. The deer are spooked, aware that their territory is invaded; the chances of seeing a legal buck are diminished. I had lots of time to think.  I was dosed up on Sinemet, having titrated up to one full pill three times a day.  I’m feeling pretty normal. Cold and distracted, but normal, considering where I was.
A buck wandered into sight.  A familiar blast of adrenaline entered my system.  I welcomed the rush, knowing I would be warmed and focused by it.  I am human and I am a hunter.  My body responded to the hunt exactly as it has evolved to do.
 I lifted the rifle to my shoulder and confirmed that the buck was legal. Then things began to fall apart.  I was shaking. The deer became a blur in my scope as I the convulsing took over my arms. I was so out of control, that the only right thing to do was click the safety back into position and put the rifle down.  The deer, finally aware of me, turned and trotted away.
What an odd sight; a laughing, trembling, and thoroughly pissed off creature dressed in blaze orange. It was another ten minutes before I could pick up the rifle and leave, convinced I would never hunt again.

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