Words Of Wild, And Wonder
“We can only be as strong as the sum total of our experience, and I cannot comprehend a life barely lived without the solid grounds of woods and field beneath the boots. The pursuit of wild things is a foundational activity, built upon the realities of the natural world and the spirit of the quickening heart. It is an opportunity to learn some core moral values, while becoming part of something much larger than one’s self”. – From a Pheasantful of Memories
“There is a place I have been that many elk hunters must eventually visit. The mountains may shine amidst spectacular landscapes and it may look like typical elk country, but somehow things are different there. It is a land of mystery and natural forces inaccessible by horseback, jeep or other conventional means. Inward rather than outward, it is a journey of the heart on a path unique to each individual. It is a place you only know once you get there”. – From Forever Humbled.
It’s now or never, and in one motion I come from behind his track and start to swing my shotgun bead towards his shoulder. He stops as if on command, as if this is his part in the choreography of a primordial dance, and this is the selected spot to place his feet. His body is perfectly broadside, with his head turned towards me and up, his nose shining in the sky.
There is no sound, no mind, no time, just our breath frozen in the air as I settle behind the gun. He waits patiently, gracefully, and completely at peace with what is about to come his way. Both parties share something all-knowing yet incomprehensible, without judgement. It is agreed. We have done this before and may do so again, god willing.
-From The Gift
“A few things I know. A hunter’s fate is determined by his relationship with, and actions upon, the mountain. It probably would not be a goat hunt without a fall of some kind somewhere in the mix, and hopefully I have now had mine. A man’s knee will lose a battle with a rock each and every time, and I am probably not the first person that these goats have observed bashing themselves upon the boundaries of their bedroom.
Perhaps that tired old euphemism is true, sometimes, and what did not kill me will make me stronger. I have been initiated upon the altar of stone, and may now have some protection against further mishaps. My boots will be set down more precisely from now on.
No matter what happens, blame cannot be placed at the feet of the goats. They are just being goats, and what becomes of this insignificant, two-legged animal is not their concern. They know as well as any creature on earth the perils of miscalculation, and the mortal ramifications of a misstep. They live with those truths for practically every breath of their life”. – From Careless For Just A Second Can Get You Killed.
“At that moment I see through other eyes, from some other time. A hint of memory flashes and reveals this place as it looked long, long ago. I see the ancestors there, huddled in the mist beneath heavy robes of fur, watching, waiting. I see their spears and primitive weapons, eager to sink their sharpness into hide and flesh. I hear their footfalls and their labored breath heaving in their chest. I feel the spear’s blade upon my hand, at the razor’s edge of all things. They are but a heartbeat away.” From Sacred Ground.
Elk give perspective to the concept of what it means to be tough.
From our point of view he is a pitiless and unaffected creature, and he expects nothing of you that he would not expect of himself. He is a “game animal” with a lot of game. He believes strongly in equal opportunity, for he will take on all comers with hardly a care. Should you decide to enter his backyard and hunt him, you can tread lightly and show little effort, like many, and experience small success, like most. Hunt him big, and you can peg the throttles until the rockets burn out. He can take it. Can you? Your choice.
Once committed, he will meet you head on and wear you out physically and mentally, a little or a lot. He can grind your hopes into gritty powder and turn your dreams into nightmarish obsessions. He will turn and happily watch from the hill above, as you beat yourself bloody on the rocks. He waits, until you sheepishly stop to pat yourself and make sure that nothing is permanently broken…” – From An Elk Hunter Looks At Fifty
I warn them several times to stay clear of my knife in case I slip, but they never miss an opportunity to touch or prod or examine in some way this elk. Their mother has sternly warned them to not ruin their cloths, and both their father and I reminded them more than once. For all the good it does. They want to be close, to smell its’ smell and lay their fingers on its teeth. Even in death, they want to become part of its life. These two are hunters, make no mistake, and I’m proud to be with them on this mountain at this moment in time when two young people chose to join us all in the adventure that we love. – From How It Ought To Be
“Time is the hunter of all men, and no one knows this better than we do. That knowledge gives us perspective, and direction. In that regard we are never lost in this great big world, not in life, nor even in death… ” – Michael Patrick McCarty
“Plainly speaking, a Pronghorn is nothing more than ‘prey on the prairie’, in the natural scheme of things. Just ask the prowling coyote, or one of his peers. Yet, he is not so easy to capture or kill. His speed is most obvious; his eyesight legendary. Still, you might just say that he just doesn’t look all that tough.
Well, you would be wrong…
Hunt him fair, and hard, and you may begin to discover an entirely different aspect to his personality. Hit him well with a broadhead or bullet, but perhaps just not well enough, and you will learn what he is truly made of. For in his veins roars the blood of the fiercest warrior. His heart is the heart of the lion, and it will not stop beating so easily.
May we all fight for life, all life, as tenaciously. It has been an honor to pursue him, all of these many years…”. – From Pronghorns, and Fires
In my mind’s eye, I see young elk calves frolicking and playing tag on the green grass of summer, some with light spots on their skin. I see a mystical creature walking in and out of view among the flickering shadows of a frost covered, autumn meadow. I see hunting camps and friends, animated and laughing. I see tired men sweating under heavy loads of meat and horn, winded and worn out from a hard day, but energized. I see impossibly large steaks sputtering on a hot aspen-wood fire, next to a glass of good, smoky whiskey and some cold, clear, creek water to wash it down. I see a young boy, now a man, describing his first kill while beaming with a grin so wide that it fills the sky. I see a father standing behind a boy who is so proud that he can not speak, but says it all with one look. I see more than I can comprehend. I do not have the words. I see way too much, and maybe not nearly enough. – From Sacred Ground
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A Few Words Of Writer’s Wisdom:
“Writing…is the process of capturing what the eye saw, what the ear heard, what the nose smelled, the fingers felt, the tongue tasted, and, most importantly, what the mind and the heart experienced. The shooting man who, at end of day, doesn’t bring those things back is impoverished; the shooting writer who doesn’t offer that to his reader is just a hack”.
George Bird Evans, Men Who Shot, 1983
“Another thing I’m sure of is that no one can be a good writer if he doesn’t do a lot of good reading. The reading has to come first in the cycle — the refinement of tastes, a cultivated awareness of the swing and rhythm of good sentences. Of course, exposure to good reading is no guarantee of being able to execute good writing — but I can’t imagine how anyone can be a good writer without having been exposed to good reading. One of the things that a lot of good reading will do is to refine taste and judgment, and hone the ability to self-edit. And the first and most important editor any writer can ever have is himself.”
John Madson, from John Madson: Words for at Least a Thousand Years by Gary Lantz.