This is the second entry of my 2016 deer hunting video journal. It has been an incredible rut for me so far for the 2016 deer hunting season and I hope you all enjoy this video. I wasn’t expecting it to turn into such a big project but then again, I never do with these type of things.
Here’s the voiceover:
I was 24 when I realized the wild was dying.
The epiphany came to me while deer hunting one October evening. Such epiphanies rarely seize a man of the morning time, I’ve found. There’s a frailty to morning light. It softens the hard edges of the world where the dew of night makes camp. Its angle radiates a white hue and illuminates the unnamed particles of vagabondage—the dregs of dreams—the frayed edges of night—both waltzing a final waltz. It glows like a lover’s breath and curls along each beam like baby-hair. During such moments, a poet can only sing.
October is spring within the fall here in Georgia. A deciduous cacophony sweeps the hollows. The vibrant yellows of Mountain Ash, Bitternut Hickory and Black Walnut harmonize in splendor with the subtle bronze shield of the American Beech and Sweet Birch. Fiery clashes from the Northern Red Oak and American Sycamore erupt and seem to disperse red flickering embers of the Red Maple, Black Cherry and Flowering Dogwood.
But evening light lands differently upon a man’s heart. The harsh angle does not bring with it a new day. Instead, it rides on a thin veil of dusk and as this veil drifts over the cacophony, the former colors begin to smear with one another in static noise. As night impedes, the observer is left looking at a muddy and mysterious scene, drained of its vibrancy. The wind through it whispers but two words: brevity and goodbye.
It was during one of these October evenings that I heard a similar whisper in my heart. The words formed and lingered like a hybrid of mist and smog—a clumsy juxtaposition composed of forest noise and the hum of distant highway traffic. From my tree near the mountaintop, far away, I could see the pulse of the city. Brake lights flickered between invisible tree branches. Occasional horn honks shot outward into the forest like futuristic arrows. Faintly, when the wind blew just right, I could make out the golden arches of the burger joint below.
As night arrived and I began gathering my equipment, I felt a weight inside me I’d not felt before. It was not tied to knowing I’d soon assume my position within the red pulse of civilization. No, I’d already come to terms with that epiphany at a younger age. This was different, subdued, like the impossible ideas that transcend the minds of children and twist them into adults or the gray and gritty smear between erosion lines. As I made my descent and the city was swallowed by the mountainside, I looked out across the drained lowlands of the Etowah River Valley and saw great running ghostly gray squares in the night that look barren and alien even from space.
As I pulled my truck out onto the road, as my eyes squinted into the headlights of oncoming cars, I realized that these are the evening days of wildness. Although the deer still fear our silhouette and our scent and the squirrel continue to bark at the cadence of our footfalls over dry leaves, I know in my heart that these creatures are static noise. They are echoes of a day when wildness could not be tamed. And they are caught, just as I am caught, somewhere in a dusky hue, where history and the present moment tear apart and become strangers to one another.
I still go to the woods. The wildest spot I find there is often in my mind, when I’m able to imagine the fleeting vision of how it all was before it all was not. Sometimes it’s a Cherokee in my periphery, kneeling near a log, his turkey feathers quietly shaking as he draws his bow. Other times it’s along the long lashes of a mother doe as her fawn nurses the last few drops from her before the leaves begin to change.
I haven’t stopped killing deer but I don’t take as many as I once did. Nowadays, I like being near deer more than anything. I think it’s because we share a common awareness. For one of us, it’s conscious, for the other, a raw flame of instinct. But for each of us it acts as a compass needle. It keeps us alive. It tells us when to run, when to stop. It tells us when to eat and when to rest. The needle of the doe sends her away from me. And my needle sends me after her. Sometimes it’s to kill. But most times, it’s only to witness a brief, muddy glimpse before the falling of the veil.
Music can be found at:
Follow me on facebook: