Moment of Hunting Clarity
It was the fifth morning of my 2015 archery deer hunt, and I was walking the same dusty trail back to camp. I left the cruel woods early that morning, chased out by the looming heat and impending failure. My head was hung low as I mindlessly kicked up dirt along the path. Suddenly I was awakened by a fresh set of bobcat tracks crossing the path.
I remembered last night when I was startled awake by a high speed chase around my tent and the screeching of a squirrel. Probably a bobcat, I thought.
Now, intrigued by these delicate tracks, I pulled out my camera and knelt down to take a picture. I was suddenly gripped with clarity and crushing emotion. It was the first time in a long time that I wasn’t thinking about deer, and was just enjoying nature. In this moment I was filled with love for every aspect of the woods. Just like the bobcat, I had a place there too, and knew I was accepted by a greater whole. Success or failure meant nothing in that moment.
Until then I was desperately pushing a dangerous energy ahead of me, filling the tranquil forest with thoughts of killing. This, I believe, is why we often fail in our hunting pursuits. There is a connection to life that only humans don’t understand. Our gift of consciousness blinds us to higher levels of understanding.
We must conquer ourselves before we can conquer nature. This is the natural order of things, and a lesson I’ve been blessed to learn over and over. These little surprises–like those bobcat tracks–add up to a much larger experience, and that experience is what I’m really hunting for. This is why I’m really there.
Like any old marriage, the woods and I have our moments, both good and bad. Sometimes we ignore each other. But once in a while I remember why we’re still together, and why I love her so deeply. In the end, I’m to blame. It’s me that fights, not her.