Bow Hunting in Autumn Woods
Patrick Wilding

The cold air burns my nose as I sit twenty-five feet in the air, my feet dangling helplessly from my climbing tree stand. I look into the treetops and see vibrant colors and dark brown squirrels running around like little kids in a toy store. I hear birds calling and chirping to one another. Every now and then I will see a crow or a hawk patiently waiting to strike for lunch. The vibrant colors of the trees are fire-engine red, blazing orange, sunflower yellow, with even a few light brown ones hanging on. These colorful leaves await their chance to lift off the branches and live for the moment it takes them down to the forest floor. As I sit scanning the area for my game, I see the forest floor is now dying out also. The once king of the forest floor, the fern, is going from a bright green color to a deathly brownish state. I also notice many mounds of litter and junk. This place kind of reminds me of an old junkyard. I see rusted out barrels, potato chip bags, and even beer and pop bottles. While this may not be the greatest place on earth for the average person, I'm not the average person, so it's great for me.

Even with all of the junk and trash out here in the woods, it doesn't seem to bother the wonderful activities that go on here everyday. I can't believe how alive the woods have become just after two hours of sitting here, Then, for some odd reason, the woods go quiet--almost like someone has pushed the pause button on Mother Nature. I look around slowly to see if maybe it's a hunter or if something is happening.

I look to my left, and I see the most beautiful creature I have ever seen. There he is, a ten-point buck. His massive chest is all puffed out, his head held high, and the huge rack of antlers on top of his head shining in the sunlight. This boy is on a mission to claim his territory. As I watch him more and more, I can feel my mouth start to water as he slowly makes his way towards me. My muscles begin to tense, and I can feel the adrenaline start to kick in. My heart starts to beat so fast I swear he can hear every pound and pulse it makes. I am in shock; he doesn't even know I am here. He walks around with his tail between his legs, showing no sense of danger. I can smell the scent he is leaving for the other deer in the area, a strong, gross, and musty kind of scent. As he gets out in front of me, I start to draw my bow back, but by now I am shaking so much it was hard to hold still. As I release the arrow I can hear a thump. I am not sure if it is from my bow, or my arrow hitting the deer. He takes off so fast I think it never really happened.

I wait fifteen minutes before climbing down. During the longest fifteen minutes of my life I try to pay attention on what is going on around me again. It sounds like someone has now released the pause button on the forest, for everything has picked up where it left off earlier: The birds are cawing and chirping, the squirrels frantically running around on the ground searching for food, and the trees making a deep howling sound as they sway in the wind. Now I can even hear the stand's mild cry as it creaks when I move down the tree.

As I make my way toward the deer, the sticks and blown-down treetops snap and crackle with my every step. My dad hunts about sixty yards away from me, so there is no way I can attempt to be quiet and not bother his hunting. Walking through these woods is like being in New York for the first time, because with each turn I make I am not sure which direction I have just came from. I try to follow the red blood trail, which kind of reminds me of a dog on the scent of a pheasant. I twist and turn, trying to make my way through a cluster of saplings. The blood seems to be getting more faint as I move deeper into this unknown void. Finally, I find him. He is lying there taking his last gasping breath; this is the most horrifying sound I have ever heard. As I move closer I realize he is now gone--all that is left is this massive body of hair, meat, and antlers. Even though I am so excited that it is mine now, I still feel a little bad for taking such a beautiful creature's life. My dad finally meets up with me and helps me field dress him and drag him back to the truck.

My hunting spot may not be the most active, the prettiest, or even one you might brag about, but I can't get enough of being out there. The sights, the sounds, the smells, and even the feeling of being in these particular woods hunting with my dad is what drives me back. Even though it reminds me of an old junkyard, I would still brag about these woods as much as possible.

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