the way out here

A hunter’s haze

By HUNTER HILL
Posted 10/14/20

I woke up this morning wishing I didn’t have to go to work, much like a lot of folks this week. It’s not that I didn’t want to go to work, so much as I would have preferred to be …

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the way out here

A hunter’s haze

Posted

I woke up this morning wishing I didn’t have to go to work, much like a lot of folks this week. It’s not that I didn’t want to go to work, so much as I would have preferred to be sitting in a tree-stand. Archery season in Pennsylvania started this past Saturday (two weeks ago, by the time you folks get to read this) and with it came the unavoidable urge to spend time in the woods. Like most, I’ve been practicing on the target in the back yard and digging out my camouflage from wherever it might be hiding in preparation for the hunt. Alas, as I write this it isn’t my time yet to seek a harvest.

As I prepare for work, I sip my morning coffee and gaze out the window at the dull grey morning fog as it slowly dissipates into the warming day. In a haze of obligation, I finish my morning routine and make my way to where I need to be.

Throughout my day, I can only think of when I might have the opportunity to get into my stand and put some time in waiting for the deer that will feed my family for the coming year. I was blessed with two doe tags this year in addition to my buck tag. After getting sick last year, it was a last-minute miracle that I was able to harvest the deer needed to keep the freezer full until now. This year, while I still have my health, I certainly hope to tag out before the weather turns and makes an enjoyable outing into an arduous task, laden with the obligation to provide meat.

In this haze, I find myself daydreaming of where I will sit and remember the various scenes etched into my mind from years of laying in wait with but a single view to watch as I sit patiently. In years past, where my success was slower in coming, it’s interesting to compare those scenes from the first weeks of archery to the final week of the rifle, where at first the fields are still green and the trees only just turning colors, to where the entirety of the landscape is blanketed in obscure sheens of white snow and ice.

As I continue to go throughout my day, I imagine the new opportunities this year brings. Having recently acquired a homemade smoker from the neighbors, I can’t help but think about various cuts of meat hanging to be smoked in the spacious wooden cabinet. Having just cut down a dying apple tree, the fresh-cut apple wood will make that food a true delicacy. Our garden yielded several bushels of tomatoes this year, which my wife has already made into sauce and salsa. Not having nearly the culinary creativity that she has, my mouth waters with the thought of what she can do with the combination of canned items from our garden and the fresh meat from the coming fall.

Still in my haze, now infused with the subliminal sweet smolder of the smoker, I take this moment of longing for the coming hunt and harvest and turn it into a moment of thanks. It is a unique blessing to be able to grow one’s food and go out and hunt for what is readily available from nature. This type of living is second to none. Sure, there is work involved, but there’s a deep gratification from living this way that cannot be achieved through a TV-dinner bought from the store.

The way out here, we are dreamers. We dream of what we already have. We live in a haze at times, thinking of our favorite parts of the year. But that haze is ultimately our reality. So, are our heads in the clouds? Only so much as the fog that parts around us, like curtains at a show to reveal the main event stepping gracefully into view on a Saturday morning. The way out here, we live our dreams, and they are as tangible as the food that sustains us each and every day of the year.

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