The Hunter's Experience
Kori Sherman

I wake up well before the crack of dawn, rising to the smell of French toast, sausage, and pancakes. As I look at my fellow hunting buddies, I notice their eyes are wide and full of
excitement, even more so than when they were children on Christmas morning. I rise from bed and walk to the window to look outside and see a beautiful moon and every star lighting up the enormous dark sky. As I look down, I see the ground covered with snow glistening in the moonlight. I hear and feel my stomach growl for food, because the smell of breakfast makes my hunger grow. Sitting down at the table, the discussion is about the day's hunting strategies and hunches.

After breakfast, I head downstairs to begin suiting up, dressing very warmly because I will have to battle the cold. Since I have to be still all day. I put on my blazing orange and make my way outside to the field full of moonlight. I open the door of the house and feel the cold grab hold of me and wake me up completely. My first step from the house is loud, as the icy snow crunches below my feet. As I look off in the distance I see the deep and dark forest that I hope has a promising day of hunting in store for me.

I make my way to the vehicle to grab my weapon. As I lift it up I feel the weight and realize the power and purpose of what I hold in my hands. I begin loading the ammunition into the gun, but find this to be a hard task because my fingers are already numb. After the gun is loaded I grab my backpack and flashlight and head through the field towards the dark and mysterious forest.

While walking through the field I look up and admire the beautiful sky, recalling the words that my father told me, "A full moon during hunting season is a hunter’s moon." Hunting has given me so many memories like that, because it's not just a sport but a tradition that has been passed on for many years. As I continue on, the hunter’s moon lights up the field like a high noon sun, and makes it easy to see without my flashlight.

Once I enter the dark forest I must turn on my flashlight to see, because it is as if someone has just turned the lights off. The trees block the moon, and I have to find my way to my blind with my trustworthy flashlight and trail markers. While walking down the trail in the dark I cannot see anything around me except where my flashlight lights the trail. As I walk I begin to hear noises and many other things, but have no certainty of what lurks in my presence. I must rely on my sense of hearing to know what is there. I take one more step when suddenly something takes off below my feet, causing my heart to skip a beat, but I realize it was just a partridge as I hear the wings fluttering through the air.

Finally, I end my journey in the dark when I reach my blind; I enter the blind, sit down, and settle in for the day. Now I must be quiet and still so I can listen for the slightest of noises, because it is still too dark to see. About a half-hour later daybreak occurs and sunlight begins to show. My vision finally begins to come back, and now I can see what I hear moving through the forest. As I sit and listen I hear the crunching of snow off in the distance and begin to zero in on the area the noise is coming from. Still not sure what it is, I continue to watch. The noise grows louder as it comes towards me. I finally catch a glimpse of the great brown and white animal moving gracefully through the trees.

My heart begins to race as I reach for my gun. Being sure to be silent and unnoticeable I continue to watch as the deer continues to move closer, I realize it is as big as any deer I have ever seen. My heart now doubles in pace as the deer turns broadside, giving me a perfect shot. But then the deer picks its head up and looks right at me. We share an eyelock for seconds that seems to be like an eternity, because I cannot move, not even blink. As the deer puts its head down I raise my gun looking through the scope at the crosshairs. I don't even realize what's going on, as my instincts have taken over. I place my crosshairs on the front shoulder of the animal but cannot hold the gun steady because I am shaking so badly. I take a deep breath, hoping to calm and steady myself. Then I begin to squeeze the trigger, the next thing I know the deer is gone and I can only hear the ringing in my ears. Now I must sit down and be quiet as I allow the deer time to lie down and die. I must be still for a half-hour without knowing how good my shot was or what the outcome will be.

After the half-hour, I get up and go look for a blood trail. I find just enough to get me on the path to my deer. I walk the blood trail for a distance and look up to see a large log lying on the ground with blood on it. As I walk up to the log to look over the other side, I see the shining of the crown of a dominant buck; there lies a most respectful trophy. As I look and admire the
animal, I realize I have just outwitted a very tough and intelligent animal. I kneel down beside it to say a blessing over the animal and thank it for a great competition. It reminds me of being alive in the old days, when this was the way of life and survival for a family.

After experiencing this thrilling experience, I myself cannot believe that there are such things as antihunters. Why are they so mad at hunters? Because we supposedly kill poor defenseless animals? Do they not understand that this is how our forefathers lived? They couldn't depend on going to the grocery store to pick up anything to feed their family; they had to do it themselves. Anti hunters try their hardest to obstruct our hunting. They do many things, drive around honking their horns when they see a hunter, try to change all the rules on hunting, and anything else they can think up. In my eyes, there is only one anti hunter who should be able to speak out against hunting, and that person is a vegetarian. If not, that person lives by a double standard. Their beliefs are simply that domestic animals are born to be slaughtered while wild animals are sacred. People simply pay the butcher to do their killing for them and think nothing of it. They don't realize that that animal too was alive just days earlier. As hunters, we do the jobs ourselves; we take the animals through fair chase, matching wits with the wild on their own terrain, not in a slaughterhouse where the animal has no chance of survival.

I think all anti hunters should set aside their strong feelings towards hunting and try it for one day. Just to spend a day in the outdoors one-on-one with Mother Nature is wonderful. I believe a lot of them would change their mind about hunting. Living one day in the life of a hunter would be a breathtaking experience for many people.

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