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It has been going on with the rise of the sun for as long as men have walked. Elk hunting is all of these things and many more. Some trips have branded me in a way that past moments and I are now one. This sometimes happens at full draw. When the pressure of the hunt, the power to take life, lingers in my mind just before the index finger touches off my arrow. While both hearts still beat, now only louder, and with more thrust. I wonder about the outcome of the shot as the elk runs off, is the hunt over, did I miss? Afterwards, the whole time while walking through the woods, looking for my arrow, looking for what it is attached to, a culmination of feelings takes me on a merry-go-round ride. Then eyes tell my heart to skip a beat, because in front of me a set of antlers erupts from the earth, motionless, in the shade of a pine. Then, the long slow walk to him… it’s the end of the last chapter, with no more pages left to turn. This is all part of the magic. Your feelings, and how to deal with them, is what you’re left alone with. It is nature, raw, and unblemished. Crazy thoughts may sometimes race through your head. If you had not taken the shot, he would still be running wild and free. You contemplate that if you could take the arrow back… would you? Then you lay your bow down next to him, dropping to your knees in submission, touching him for the first time, thanking someone other than yourself. Your hands rub up and down the antlers feeling every knurl, every rubbed tree he has whittled down. You try to imagine the mountaintops he has crossed, all the bugles he has screamed. And all the hunters he has slipped past. Then, in your mind, you see their faces. The guys back at camp, before you come walking in late at night. “Where is he,” they will probably be saying, talking among themselves. Wondering where you are, before you arrive. “He must have gotten something,” the first might say. “Maybe he’s lost, or broken his leg and needs our help,” another spits out.

Tracker Third Quarter 2012  

The quarterly magazine of the Arizona Elk Society (AES) with articles involving Arizona Elk and the AES's efforts at conservation of the hun...

Tracker Third Quarter 2012  

The quarterly magazine of the Arizona Elk Society (AES) with articles involving Arizona Elk and the AES's efforts at conservation of the hun...

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