Carpe Diem

Looking back several years ago to 2008, I can’t help but think of an emotional encounter while bow hunting a small private property in the early hours of December. That morning started out just like many other exuberant hunts as I was beginning another journey into the wilderness of unknown certainty. I can think of no other adventure or aspiration than that of the outdoors with the opportunity to broaden my experience with an overwhelming anticipation to hunt. I woke up to a bit of an unusual morning that day at 4am and discovered that the cold front that had passed the previous day had left its arctic grasp in central Texas. Low clouds, high humidity and very cold conditions foreshadowed an exciting quest to hunt. Temperatures were hovering around 19 degrees Fahrenheit with an impenetrable layer of mist that froze to anything on contact. Layered thoroughly as feasibly possible, my body was prepared and my mind was set. The sacrifices made in weather like this proved that my yearning to hunt was second to none. With bow in hand and early morning darkness on my side, I marched to my tripod stand nestled in a concentrated group of oak and cedar which was later nicknamed “The Cave.” My father and I had come to name this location as “The Cave” because of the way the trees and substantial cover were situated on a shallow down sloped bank of land. There was only one way in and one way out providing a funnel for an abundance of wildlife to flood through. The tall thick oak trees presented a shadowed canopy that was accompanied by dense cedar filling in the open space below. Situated under a large dominant oak tree was my 12 foot tripod completely oblivious to any wildlife or person around. Established on top and prepared for another opportunity to seize the day, I prepared my mind and body for a long wintery hunt. As the mist settled and froze wherever it landed, my bow soon began to gather a thin film of clear ice. Hunkered down shivering and teeth chattering, I gathered my thoughts and prepped my mind on the potential excitement of what might come. As the sun started to slowly climb out of the eastern sky behind a thick misty morning, I could slowly start to see the shapes and contours of the wilderness around. All senses were on full alert as I knew the prime opportunity was slowly beginning to rise. The faintest of noises were heard as leaves and twigs began to crack below. I knew the moment had arrived. My mind had gathered enough information from my surroundings to know deer were nearby and making their way through this funneled array of dense cover. Excitement within began to rise as my heart beat increased. Anticipation drew near with the possibility of the unknown drawing close. Just as the deer moved from behind a growth of cedar, I couldn’t help but think of my first hunt with my father as a child and the awe-inspiring excitement I had. In a matter of seconds, 4 bucks had stepped on scene and provided an opportunity of a lifetime. As light slowly began to gather, I examined each and every buck to determine which one if any was mature enough to harvest. Of the 4 bucks that strolled in, 2 were of maturity. I had previously ranged certain distances and knew exactly how far each and every buck was. The wind was low and by my calculations, the buck I had intended to shoot was standing 20 yards away. With every beat of my thumping heart, I slowly gathered my bow in hand and began the incredibly precise approach of locking into my target and pulling back. As I summoned my strength and controlled my breathing as best I could, I began the draw. Frost that had assembled on my bow began to break and as I reached the break on the pull of the icy string, a faint shallow rip of noise alerted the deer. The sound made from the pull can be best described as that of climbing into the saddle sitting on top of my horse. The muffled sound projected through the air just enough to signal the deer and place them on full alert. The break of my draw made just enough noise to scamper the bucks about 10 yards further than what I had mentally ranged them at. I quickly reexamined the distance and determined the bucks were now somewhere between 28-30 yards away. I set my 2nd pin on the mature 8 point and controlled every breath I had. What seemed like minutes, I had registered the distance, took meticulous aim and slowly squeezed my bow release. The arrow flew straight and precise in what seemed like slow motion striking the buck 2 inches behind the shoulder as it stood perfectly broadside. The arrow exited the far side of the buck with a new color of crimson red laying several yards beyond the buck. The buck leaped high, kicked with great terror and made a 90 degree turn to run for cover. Exhilarated and beyond belief, I found myself rapidly breathing and rejoiced that I had made a perfect kill shot on the mature buck I had always wanted. The unbelievable emotions and uncontrollable trembling that developed was the result of pure resiliency and passionate desire called hunting. I waited for what seemed like hours replaying the previous moments over and over before I ventured out of my stand and began the most anticipated trek to locate this deer I had been so blessed to harvest. With the help of my father’s friend, we located the buck approximately 75 yards away from the shot. A swarm of emotions engulfed my thoughts as I marveled at my accomplishment. As with each successful hunt, I gave thanks to God for providing me this gift of an opportunity to hunt and harvest a beautiful animal with which I loved so admirably. My frigid body was overwhelmed with joy as I blessed this hunt to those who had helped me grow into the man I am and teach me what I knew. I feel blessed and gracious for all that I have encountered and want to continue these lessons in life for as long as I can. Hopefully I can soon experience another opportunity like this and share it to my son in the near future. I live to feel this moment and hope for more to come. Carpe diem