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Hunting Your Own Food

As the ball rises from its bed in the brush 40 meters away, every cell of my body decides to try a jailbreak. I’m at my hunting post, 24 feet up from a tulip poplar, where I’ve been hiding for four hours waiting for a deer to pass. And this has been right in front of me all the time. I would like to stand up, but my legs are shaking too much.

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This is my third last autumn trying to kill a deer with a bow , arrow, and Handmade Damascus Hunting Knives     this is as close as I’ve been. At 40 yards, I see the nap of her hair lying in one direction along her back, the opposite along her shoulder. The dollar, a five-pointer, standing now, drops its head with antlers almost to the ground and stretches its entire body. And then it freezes. It becomes a statue of grass. A minute later, when he revives and wanders out of sight, I am devastated. But in hunting, you do not move without a good reason. And a broken heart does not qualify.

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What I love about hunting, in spite of my lack of success, is how it makes everything matter in a way that it did not before. The wind, to which I was indifferent, becomes a matter of life or death. A deer that is leeward will smell you: “will defeat you” is the term of the hunter, and will disappear before you see it. Conversely, if the deer is against the wind, it is still in business. Unless, of course, the wind changes

In the same way, all sound matters. The forests are a spider web, and you enter like a fly that hits that network. The animals, seen and not seen, register and alert each other upon arrival. All you can do is sit quietly and still. Do this, and in 15 or 20 minutes the woods will absorb you. Sit still enough and a goldfinch, confusing you with a tree, will light up in your chest, drown for a few seconds and fly away.

Sitting still but present, alert to the wind in your skin and the intermittent pounding of the falling acorns, you may hear a sudden increase in the chatter between the birds and the squirrels. Another fly has hit the web. Now you are among the animals alerted. It could be anything, even a deer.

You enter a relaxed but elevated state of consciousness, a type of active meditation. But the entrance to this world has a price. You have to be hunting – I do it, anyway.

My legs, although they still tremble strongly, are once again receiving requests from my brain. I stop and take my bow in my hand. Fifteen minutes later, I hear footsteps on the sheets behind me. A range walks quietly just below my position. Just below the raised tail of the range there is a dollar, following its nose.

The Long Range

The range makes a wide circle, the dollar follows every step. They are eight meters away. I drew and pointed, noticing the burrs in the buck’s coat just below where I want my arrow to go. I release the arrow. The range shudders by reflection before the sound, but does not alter the step. The dollar, its nose still just below its tail, shows no reaction. They leave the stage to the left. I can not have lost myself. It is impossible. But there is no other explanation.

It is getting dark when I lower my bow with a rope and descend silently. I find my arrow sticking out of the ground precisely at the angle I shot, as if nothing stronger than air had penetrated. But when I pull it, I find that the shaft is stained with blood. A few meters away there is a dark medallion of blood on the leaves. Then another. Then, 15 yards from where I fired it, the dollar dropped. My arrow passed through him. I did not even know that he had been shot. It is a death as clean as you can hope to do.

I start to shout “Yes!” But my voice instantly sounds bad here, a transgression, and I swallow the word before it escapes my lips. He had asked me and worried how it would feel to kill an animal, and now I know it. It feels, both in the modern and the archaic sense, impressive. I am flooded, overwhelmed, trapped by interwoven feelings of euphoria and repentance, pride and humility, reverence and, yes, fear. The act of killing an innocent being does not feel, nor feel, nor completely wrong nor completely correct. I caress the male’s flank. I apologize for taking my life. I murmured: “Thank you.”

That night with the back of a rooster. It’s fantastic, wild instead of gamy. What was running in the forest is now on my plate, without the benefit of an inspector’s seal or the sanctifying fluorescence of the supermarket. What I have done feels subversive, almost illicit. I’ve stolen food And it’s good

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