I am not a hunter, but I am married to one. Outside is his favorite place to be.
“Yes” was my husband’s instant reply when one of our 20-something sons asked him if they could go hunting soon. He began packing that same night. All our son had to do was pick the time and his Dad was ready.
“Shocked Silence” was my husband’s instant reply a couple of days later when I asked if I could go, too. It’s nice to know after all these years I can still surprise him! He recovered from the shock reasonably well then asked “why”? Good Question. I could hardly believe it myself I had asked to go.
During these long months of working from home and then staying home some more, my camera has provided me a measure of peace and happiness. I gravitate toward landscape and wildlife photography, which is something you can do solo in a pandemic. But the idea bloomed that I could possibly tag along with the Hunters as they prepared, get a good day out of the house and in nature, and maybe a photo of at least 2 of the people I love the most.
We set off. I drove separate since I wasn’t planning on staying as long. They got in their vehicle and I got in another. I smiled when I saw the blaze orange ball cap my husband had put on the passenger seat for me.
I followed their truck for two hours to our destination. Eric and I have relatively the same taste in music, but we do differ sometimes. He refrains from playing Led Zeppelin while I’m in the car and I refrain from playing “the playlist”. But with only myself for company, I said Hello to Adele, waded Muckalee Creek Water with Luke Bryan, took a Smoke Break with Carrier Underwood, sat in a Cop Car with Sam Hunt, and listened to a lot of Brantley Gilbert because I’m one of the Ones that Like (Him).
Up ahead, I suspect there wasn’t any music playing. I could see the older man talking with his hands, and by the placement of the bill on his Iron Paradise ball cap, I watched the younger man look at him and then throw his head back, laughing. Each stoplight was a silhouette confirmation of what I often see in real life. They are father and son and always will be. But another layer has been added – the father and his son are also friends. This is true for the father and all of his sons. Priceless.
Lots of winding country roads later, and after fording a shallow creek – a new experience for me- we arrived at our destination. The guys started unloading their gear and I unloaded mine. A cat from a nearby barn ran to greet us. She did her sweet best to convince us to at least pet her and at best to take her home.
I put on my blaze orange ball cap- backwards so the bill wouldn’t hit my camera- and followed the guys for a few hours. I did my best to hang back, to be invisible and see the afternoon through their eyes as they selected their places and set up for later. Photos were tough as the sun was so harsh, but I was happy to capture a few.
I have zero desire to go out in the dark, climb a tree, and sit in the cold. When I ask our Hunter why he enjoys it, he had a lot to say. What I learned is it’s sitting in the dark silence, watching the sun rise, and experiencing the woods waking up. It’s harvesting your own food that the Good Lord provided and enjoying His creation while doing so. It’s passing on the knowledge and experience while spending unplugged time with your sons. It’s connecting with others who share the same passion for these same things. It’s continuity and tradition. His father passed down to him what his father taught him and now he’s passing it down to his own sons.
As I listened to the Hunter talk, the word that echoed in my mind was relationship. He was describing a layer of relationships that hunting has given him. Relationships with his God, with Creation, with his Dad, with his Sons, with his Friends.
The arm of a Barnett crossbow reads “The Brotherhood”. It rings true true because that was what the Hunter was describing to me.
Relationship. Friendship. Brotherhood.
And, while “Brotherhood” can mean the “state of being brothers”, Merriam Webster also defines brotherhood as “fellowship, alliance”. This is the definition that rings true for me, because I have a niece who is also a hunter, just like her Grandfather, Father, Uncle, and Cousins. It’s a tie that binds; it runs in the family.
After a few hours, I headed back to my car and the guys headed deeper into the woods. I’m still not a hunter myself. No one is ever going to find me in a tree before sunrise, but I came away from the day with sure knowledge about why hunting is part of the hearts of those I love.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. James 1:17 (NIV)