For a few years, my little brother and I went hunting at least a couple of times each season. We hunted squirrel, with only once or twice going out with any intention of getting deer. We enjoyed it, even if our hunts were not fruitful. Then, one year my wife and I got a bearded dragon from Pet Smart. We did not know that the little guy was sick when we purchased him, thanks in large part to the negligence of said business, and he died after just a week. It was a horrible experience; he had a bone disorder that caused him great pain, and we watched him die over several agonizing hours. After that experience, I was convinced I couldn’t watch an animal die, at least for some time, so I took a break from hunting. After all, watching an animal die is a possibility when hunting.
But I’ve healed from that ordeal and I’m ready to get back to it. I’ve missed going out into the crisp autumn air at the break of day, the comforting weight of my boots on my feet, the slow crunch of dead leaves underneath as we crept through the woods, hoping not to startle potential game. It was my one chance at true adventure, given that my job has me firmly planted at a desk indoors–which is fine, but it’s nice to have a change of pace.
My decision to revisit this hobby came as I started writing a new book. It’s about a hunter who has to confront his own painful past as he tracks down a dangerous bear that seems to be as unnatural as a ghost. Writing this has got me thinking fondly of my memories with my little brother and, on a couple of occasions, my mother, who accompanied us as an observer.
So come this autumn, I will probably find myself out in the woods once more, shotgun in hand, hoping to bring home a harvest to share with my family.