Icy cold air nipping at the nose and chilling the lungs. Crispy ground crunching under foot with wisps of snow laying here and there. Daylight just beginning to make it's way through the early morning darkness. An old body cuddled in the softness of warm clothes.
Finished with the early morning chores and now making his way to the spot he has been seeing the deer he wants to bring home to fill the freezer with. Very lean, wonderful tasting, nourishing meat for the winter months ahead.
He gets to his spot picked out months before and perches on a stump that stands there from a tree he once cut down when clearing a fence row. He listens and watches as the day begins to get brighter. His eyes take in the beauty of the dawning day.
The grasses of the fields glistening with the frozen dew that has collected on them over night. The weeds and brush at the edges of the field just outside the trees which give cover to the wildlife that hides within. He enjoys the silence.
He watches carefully at the trails he has seen the deer he wants emerging from so many other early mornings as he enjoyed the views of the different seasons of the year. All with their special changes of scenery. The beautiful flowers of the plants in the spring as the sun rose over the scene. Attracting the birds who would carry their seeds to start new life elsewhere. The filling of greens as summer approached. The greens that would feed and nourish the wildlife as the year went along. The leaves that would hide the birds as they grazed and hid from their enemies. The leaves that would hide their nests full of their precious eggs and babies. The change to fall when the beautiful colors of the leaves emerged before they dropped to the ground for the winter so the weight of the snow wouldn't break the branches and limbs of the trees.
He pours a cup of hot coffee from the thermos he brought along. As he smells the coffee and prepares to take a sip of the liquid heat he says a prayer to the universe to be on his side today and to aid him in making a clean shot so his prey wouldn't suffer.
He takes a deep swig of his coffee. As he does he hears a sound of a branch, something moving to his left. He sets the coffee on the ground slowly and cautiously turns his head to look. He spies a young buck. His head is full of thought. But it's not the older deer he wanted. So he watches as it moves from the brush, across the field and into the brush to the woods.
In his mind this deer would have made some decent meals, but was to young and should be left to make more deer and not hunted until a few years later.
He picks up his coffee and gets as comfortable as possible on his stump once again.
As he peers around at the beauty of the early day his mind begins to wonder about the years that have passed and the many times he has hunted alone and with others. He recalls conversations with other hunters and smiles as he remembers how they complain they never see deer.
He checks the wind direction, sets his coffee down and reaches for a cigar. He lights his cigar and watches the brush line across the field from him. As he enjoys his smoke he notices something moving in the heavy brush. He readies his rifle as he watches the familiar sight of the deer he has spent almost a year watching steps from the bushes. His cigar drops from his lips to the ground at his feet.
He watches as the deer walks into the field. But something is different.
The deer looks at him. It knows he's there. Yet it doesn't run. The deer gives him a look as if to say, it's my time and you are the one I want to feed with my body. My spirit is ready to move on. He waits for about a minute longer with thoughts seeming to go back and forth with the deer. Not one sign of the deer wanting to move except four paces closer and slightly turning to the side. The deer knows his hunter too.
They have both enjoyed each others company over the past year. They have watched each other knowing this day would come.
He aims his rifle with as much care as he has learned over his life and squeezes the trigger gently. The deer drops without a sound or movement of fear or pain. It's over and life goes on.
As he walks to his deer he feels sadness at the passing of a deer who has become a friend and taught him of his ways so this day would cause neither of them more pain than necessary for life to go on. He approaches his deer and says a prayer over him. Thanking the universe, thanking mother earth and thanking the deer. Giving thanks that he is allowed to share in the spirit of the deer, knowing that this deer will live on through him and those who share in the meals.
His hunting season was short as he intended it to be. Now was the time to take home his bounty to be stored for the meals during the winter ahead.
He only feels sorry that mankind has chosen to break the food chain and he will not one day be able to return what he has been given to go on feeding the life left behind when the day comes for his spirit to pass on.
Yet he also knows he can plant trees that will last longer than him that will feed and protect the wildlife long after he is gone. He can plant wild berry bushes and plants that will feed and drop seeds to spread their own growth that will feed those that feed him for many years to come.
He can leave something behind which will continue to feed as life goes on.
For this he smiles, as life goes on.
There is little to smile at when things are received. There is much more warmth and more to smile about when the smiler is doing the giving and sharing the smiles.