Prey: White-tailed Deer
Date: November 14, 2005
Location: Saskatchewan, Canada
Years of Experience: 21
Where rocks grow orange the chickadee darts just in front of my boots from one flimsy branch to the next, it peeks back at me seemingly grinning knowing full well my intentions on the crisp autumn morning.
I stumble and bend saplings trying to keep my movements balanced and fluid but to this chickadee I am as clumsy as the last hunter that hiked this path so many years ago. The air smells of rotting foliage and the musk of an elk herd that passed only a few hours before the sun chased away the cold shadows.
I grip the rifle and peer intently through the poplar saplings hoping to catch a shine of antler or the ghosting movement of deer. I am not here to reflect on past mistakes, or missed opportunities, but to kill the buck that calls himself boss in these parts; where moss grows knee high up the old poplars and rocks on the south facing ridge grow orange and carry lonely memories and lost stories. The game trail is littered with elk tracks and droppings but one prominent deer track stands out and atop.
I quicken my pace across the open meadow but too fast I carry myself and a beaver slaps his tail in the glassy pond. The echo of the slap carries on for what seems an eternity and to counter the alarm I let out three deer grunts and quickly make my way up the sharp ridge, sun at my back and wind to my left. I settle and the silent woods engulf and welcome me. The wood pecker shrieks from tree to tree, shrews rustle leaves beneath my feet, and the saddening bonk of a raven in the distance stops my shivering. Here is where the rocks grow orange, I am not alone.