In His Splendor
As I got older the game I hunted got larger, deer season soon became something I looked forward to year round. As I continued hunting and spending more time outdoors my love for nature only strengthened and I began to look at it differently.
My entire life I felt bad every time I shot an animal, as I think everyone should. But I was doing it to maintain myself, or so I was taught.
My thought process began to change over time and I no longer ate meat and there was no reason to continue hunting, so I didn’t. Now sitting here today, I do again eat meat, just white meat and very very little.
I missed one thing, the thrill of the hunt. I still have not picked up a gun and gone after a deer nor do I ever intend to again. I personally believe and talking with many hunters know others believe this as well; as you age and mature in respect for the animal, you stop killing them for sport. If you do still hunt them, it is for the meat and not the kill.
Me not eating the meat, there is no reason for the hunt.
But still, that lingering missing of the thrill every fall as the deer went into rut was there. Each year I spend considerable time out photographing fall and elk. I never photographed whitetail deer; I simply did not have the time to put into tracking the big ones.
The day I photographed this monster I was out looking for big bucks. I had spotted this one earlier in the day and watched him disappear into the thick undergrowth in a nearby wooded area.
I set off in the direction I had thought he would be going knowing there was a clearing if he kept heading the way he was. Lucky for me, it was the rut and bucks get stupid when they are chasing the does. Knowing this, I thought I might have a chance even though I was not prepared to hike in far and sit and wait.
Sit and wait I did, for about an hour. Now this day was well below freezing and it was early in the morning, I got cold. And when I say cold, I mean I sat there for as long as I physically could and then checked my surroundings again before I got up to hike back to my van.
When I looked around I spotted another buck, not quite as big. In spotting him, I stayed for about ten minutes longer photographing him and then quietly slipped away.
As I got close to my van I looked over into a clearing and spotted another small buck.
I walked out onto a ridge and stood by a stand of old trees; then he came walking up, the big one. He ran at the small buck and chased it away. I was so cold but I wasn’t budging. I stood there and photographed the deer chasing that doe until my camera ran out of battery.
With fingers numb and toes burning I hiked back with a dead camera and adrenaline flowing through me. The thrill I needed was back and I was happy to be out hunting again, with a camera.