Reflections From The Front Porch
Written by Darrell Anderson.
The boy was motionless. He had barely moved for a couple of hours. His rump was sore and his legs and neck were stiff. He couldn’t move. Moving would compromise his position. He had studied and worked too hard for this moment.
The day was typical for the time of year — with a slight breeze, a clear sky, and plenty of fresh air. The air was not yet cold with the snap of winter, but nonetheless possessed a briskness that reminded everyone that winter would soon arrive. But today was perfect.
For the past few years the boy’s father and grandfather had been sharing with him their knowledge of the outdoors. They had shown him the woods, how the animals lived, and how they avoided danger. He had learned to track deer and had spent his weekends in the woods learning the deer’s habits. The boy had learned well. He would not move for fear of the deer seeing him. He sat still, waiting for the moment to come.
As he sat there, he wondered whether stalking the deer was a science or an art. Surely a science the boy thought. He could walk the woods and see the signs. He could tell where the deer had come and gone. He could estimate a deer’s antlers by the rubbings on the trees and could recognize the signs of the rut.
The deer he had been following was especially large. The tracks he left were by far the biggest in this area. There was no doubt that this deer was master of this territory. Surely some young bucks would challenge, but they would learn the strength and wisdom of the big buck, just as the boy had.
Then again, the boy thought, perhaps stalking was an art. A person requires years of practice and observation to learn about deer. Perhaps the methods were scientific, but the actual practice was an art. Perhaps knowing a deer was insufficient. Perhaps he had to think like a deer. Yes, that was the connection — to think like a deer was to feel and act like one. The boy was sure. And with each passing moment, he grew more confident. The deer would be his.
Suddenly, his heart began pounding very hard. He had heard his father and grandfather speak of “buck fever.” He had never experienced the sensation, but there was no doubt in his mind now. His heart pounded so hard he thought it would burst through his chest.
The noise was faint, barely audible, but he knew the deer was behind him. He sensed as much too. This was the moment he had waited all morning for. He was thankful he was sitting down.
He started to turn, ever so slowly. What seemed liked hours to the boy were but only a few moments. He stopped as he saw the deer. It was him. He knew it. The same deer he had been tracking the past several weeks. The deer was huge, almost as if he were out of a dream.
The antlers spread far out from his head. The boy counted ten, eleven, twelve points on the beautiful rack! His heart continued pounding heavily. The deer did not see him.
The boy slowly raised his arms. He steadied himself, inhaled gently, and then slowly, quietly, exhaled. He squeezed his finger.
Click. The deer raised his huge neck and head. The boy did not move. The deer returned to continue feeding, but then stopped, and again looked toward the boy. The boy was still. The deer snorted and bolted for the next knoll.
The boy dropped his arms and started breathing again. He thought the camera shutter had seemed unusually loud. But now he had proof of the skills his father and grandfather had taught him. He rose to go home. He would share the morning with them. They would be proud.
Somehow he sensed he was becoming a man.
Next: Curve Balls