Addiction is a state defined by compulsive engagement in naturally rewarding behavior. With regards to drugs and alcohol, sex, gambling, or internet addiction, there are usually adverse consequences. Other than mosquito bites and poison sumac rash, I have not found any adverse consequences of hunting; yet I would definitely say I’m addicted (like I am to fishing, and coveting that moment when there’s a fish on the line struggling to get away as I reel it in).
My waking thoughts, and my sleeping ones, now turn to the next chance to hunt, and Monday seems like torture as I persevere to Friday evening just waiting for the opportunity to begin my whitetail ritual (which I’m sure will look much the same when I’m hunting turkey, or should I find myself in some opportunity of a different kind).
Today’s Daily Word message is “Communing with nature, I find oneness.” The text reads, “Communing with nature reminds me I am one with all life….” For the nature lover who hunts, this is the truth. I have expressed before how much satisfaction I get when I’m fishing and catch a trout or catfish. In that moment, I am in a struggle with one of G-d’s creatures which desires to live; yet when I successfully reel in the fish, gut it, clean it, cook it and eat it, I feel at oneness with my true being. I have taken ownership of my responsibility to feed myself. Shopping in a grocery store and consuming food that has been killed for me and dressed to be attractive and guilt free does not provide oneness.
So I go out to the hunt, each night I am able to go (and some mornings as well) with great anticipation of the ultimate connection to nature; the opportunity to be self-responsible, to face another animal (as I recognize that humans are animals despite our evolved souls) with the intent of taking its life to feed myself and my family.
Tonight was no exception, and I hoped and prayed that this night would be THE night that I actually succeed at my endeavor. When I spoke with my son over the phone this morning, he suggested I would hunt better if I channeled my inner warrior by painting blood on my face, under my eyes. My son suggested I prick my finger for the blood supply. At this rate, I figured a little superstition couldn’t hurt, so I proceeded to prick my finger and paint blood under my eyes, along with the camouflage paint, after my Scent-a-Way shower.
About 1835 (6:35 PM) I spied a beautiful buck headed for the clearing. This was not the young buck I’d seen before, but a younger trophy buck, maybe 2 1/2 – 3 y/o. I had prepared myself to take my time; to sight in on the deer, breathe, and take a purposeful shot. As the buck meandered into the clearing, headed toward the pond, I kept him sighted in my scope. It was surreal watching him from the scope of my crossbow instead as a tourist in a treestand or tree-blind. The buck seemed uninspired to stop for me, however, so I made a noise with my mouth (I find the only down side to using a deer call is that it requires use of hands, which in this case were both busy steadying my crossbow). The buck stopped and faced me. I knew that if I was going to take a shot, this would be the time, so I targeted his chest and squeezed the trigger.
I’d love to end the story with, “And that’s how I shot my first deer,” but apparently my left shoulder disability impacts my bow shooting as it does my gun shooting. Being 70% disabled in my left shoulder tends to make me shoot down and to the left. I can only assume that is what happened. The buck bolted, screaming (more masculine screams than the doe), and I wasn’t sure if I’d hit him or not. The deer move so quickly that I don’t get a chance to see if there’s an arrow protruding anywhere. I got up and went to look for a blood trail, but that’s when I saw my arrow buried in the ground at the base of a fallen tree limb; just about where the buck had been standing. Apparently, finger blood was not enough to compensate for my lack of prowess (or skill) with my crossbow.
Blessed is the beautiful buck who lives to see another day! I will be up early tomorrow morning to try again. As my intention is to hunt for food, I do not have a preference if I shoot a doe or a buck. I have now taken a shot at one of each; I figure “three’s a charm.” The important thing to remember at this point, is that I have continued to hunt, despite many nights and mornings seeing no deer at all. I have invested over 30 hours in the past month (my first hunt of my life was 20 Sep 2014), and have learned valuable lessons in the process. I have also been blessed to sit in the silence (which does not exist in nature) away from the noise of mankind; I have witnessed creatures’ great and small investing effort in their own survival; and I have unwound in G-d’s natural temple after hours and days of demanding work.
And like the buck, who was blessed to live another day, I have been blessed to feel what it is to truly live; to be free in nature, unencumbered by computers, crisis, and the cacophony of noise expressed daily by humans. I am addicted to hunting, not just because of the craft of the hunt, but because of the time it affords me to care less and just Be.
(This essay was originally published on 24 October 2014 on Facebook by Sara Crusade – GalHunterMidlife)
(Follow my hunts on Instagram – @Gal_HunterMidlife)