I woke up this morning for the hunt to find out that it was over. To steal a sentence from earlier in the week, `plans change quickly when you don`t have any.`
I`m not entirely sure what the reasons were. We certainly are happy with our results, the weather has been getting tougher and we`ve all been here for a week. Perhaps it`s simply time to go - some of the guys will be back up for deer season which starts 10 days from now and lasts 2 weeks. I`ll be in Scotland for most of it (a work-related trip) and it looks like I will miss another year of deer season.
It was an excellent hunt and I`m very happy with the results and time we got to spend together.
Our `driveway`is abotu 700 meters to our main logging road. Four-wheel drive trucks are made for eating roads like this and my two-wheel drive takes it slow and steady and it`s a small relief when I make it to the main road where we drive another 12 or 13 kilometers back to an actual road and the start of civilization.
When I got to the logging road, I realized that we had forgotten the partridge in the hanging shed. Many of the guys were busy hooking up trailers and making for the final trek out so I decided to go back to get them. Because of the condition of the road, I opted to walk in to get them.
It was a wonderful walk back to the camp. I must admit I felt like I was on some sort of reality show and I had made it to the final episode. I walked a road I`ve known for more than 30 years and recounted where Jack used to park his truck, laughed at the place I got a truck stuck for the first time, vowed to come back to visit a patch of wild blueberries that my Mother pointed out in the fall and smiled at the memory of passing Ralph in the middle of a mud puddle about 5 years ago.
The walk was reflective – even more so on the way back as I carried the two birds back to the vehicle. I finished cleaning them (removing their feathers) back at the truck and made a few simple cuts with a knife that my previous dog had `given`me for Christmas. One of our other hunters had engraved my name in it for me.
I`m pretty certain that I would not be a hunter if I didn`t grow up with it. I`m prepared to venture one step further and suggest I`d likely be anti-hunting.
But I did grow up with it. And growing up with it helped me understand that hunting and killing were not simply synonyms. I have learned, for me, that there is far more to hunting than I may have otherwise thought.
I still hunt birds with my Grandfathers shotgun. I walk differently in the woods because of lessons taught to me – both by nature herself and the elders of my camp that have passed their traditions to me. I have learned ways (and continue to) to make even more use of the animals we harvest and the traditions we continue. It is in my memory and those around me that names of places live on and that they are not forgotten.
I have stood in the foundation of rock homes that were abandoned 100 years ago and have been seen by less than 10 people since. I have helped rebuild loose stone walls that were placed there in the 1800`s out of respect for those before me who settled these lands. I have learned that we are preserving far more than food on these journeys that I once struggled so dearly with.
I have come to terms with my hunt and the traditions which endure.
As indicated in an early post, I have skipped many stories in these posts which tell much bigger stories of what happens as we hunt which would explain far more about our trip and our `tribe.` I haven`t skipped hunting stories – simply skipped deep personal stories of sharing, teaching, helping and guiding each other that is a part of these trips. One could generalize these stories as those of `male bonding` – I like to think of them more as the sharing between brothers, fathers and sons of my second family. Sharing these stories would betray such sacred trust but you`ll have to take my word that there is far more to these journeys than simply killing. I am, after all, one of the newer hunters and I`ve been there (full-time) for almost 15 years.
For those of you who have stuck with us through these posts – thank you. I am sure that they haven`t all been easy to read. I know (based on traffic), that they are certainly not the most popular subject we have posted on. Our stats have taken a dramatic hit while posting on hunting and I know it`s been difficult for many to stick with it. I am not asking for your support or approval – each will make up their own mind. I simply thank you for sticking it out, keeping an open mind and joining us in thinking about what we eat. The comments and emails have been honest, open and moving.
It`s time to leave the woods behind and get back to some different topics around food, design and thinking about what we eat. I hope you have enjoyed and, again, thank you for your support and curiosity. Writing these posts has been some of the most difficult writing I have ever done.