Hunting Lesson

 

      “Stop the car!” Bill didn’t know the cause of my excitement. I quickly pointed to the distant spot on the highway. He then spotted the magnificent buck. His great horned head held high, erect and motionless he stood far from us on the highway.

I quietly loaded my gun and aimed. Just at that moment Bill slammed the car door. The buck jumped and disappeared in the bush. I knew that deer trek around in a closed loop along a few miles path. I decided to go after him and I began the slow chase. Bill stayed behind by the car.

I followed his tracks in the fluffy snow. But he was wiser than I, his pursuer. He run through a low lying frozen bog and jumped back into the forest. My intended pray knew that the falling snow will eventually cover his track. The excitement of the chase kept me going. I tried to spot him in the bush, but without his tracks the chase became hopeless. I lost him. I turned back, but I couldn’t see my boot prints, the snow covered them.

I pondered for a while how to get back to the highway. In my haste, I left my compass, matches, emergency supplies, and warm parka in the car and I felt cold. In a panic, I began to run around trying to find my way out of the bush. It was tiring and useless. I slowed down and walked to a high point. I looked around to get oriented. Nothing but bush surrounded me. I became aware of the silent loneliness of the frozen North. I saw no birds or any living creature. I only noticed the eerie sound of the wind sweeping the barren tree limbs. I fired my gun, hoping that Bill would hear it and will respond with a shot, but silence followed. It finally dawned on me that I was lost.

I was alarmed. I knew that if I didn’t walk south, but towards the Canadian north, I will freeze to death. I felt real empathy for the deer struggling to survive in such Godforsaken climate. ‘If I find my way out I will never again go hunting,’ I made the silent commitment.

When I overcome my initial panic, I began to use my head. I sat down on the highest point and marked the direction of fallen trees in the snow. I decided they point to south, for they must have been felled by the northern wind storms. It took about two hours, carefully proceeding in southerly direction.

The highway was busy during the summer, but no vehicles were in site this time of the year. I waited shivering in the cold for more than an hour before a truck driver picked me up and he drove me to Bill’s car, two miles further. Bill told me that he realized that I was lost and he fired his gun many times, hoping that I will hear it. He was about to drive to the nearest RCMP station to request a search for me.

I managed to survive. But the frozen Canadian north thought me a lesson to respect the deer that has to struggle for survival under such lonely and cold conditions. And also kept my promise and never took a gun into my hands, and I never went hunting since that hunting trip.