Squint to be certain. Yes, and finally. I am three miles from home. The drought has scattered prey from their usual feeding grounds into lower valleys and higher catch basins. For me, dragging a kill downhill seems more logical than huffing it uphill from the valley.
A bow and full quiver of arrows had become life saving about twelve years ago. My wife and I abandoned to the desperate city folk our little home with its central creek. Property or our lives, or both if we made our presence known. I think we made the right swap. Though we were prepared, it hasn’t been easy becoming nomads.
Does and fawns; no buck in sight. Logic dictates I take a fawn to leave the mature females to breed again. Never bucks. I need to hunt again and bucks were scarce due to the long standing sport of collecting a crown of antlers for someone’s wall, the equivalent of a silverback ape drumming his chest. Besides, a fawn would demand far less energy to transport.
The quiver lay close on the ground, one arrow lighter. To move downhill would be upwind from the group. An uphill shot isn’t my first choice. I have been getting better.
Slow, deep breaths. I exhale and let loose the arrow that is promptly followed by rifle report, which startles the group and me. Firearms were rarely used to hunt. Too valuable and drew too much attention to a person who had something for which most would kill.
The fawn had fallen in the chaos; a clean kill. Another arrow from the quiver as my guts shrivel at the thought of killing a human. A woman rises from the forest brush and turns toward the disappearing herd for another shot—at a moving target.
I will have to wait her out to tow the fawn, if she doesn’t scour the area for a chance kill from the rifle. I am unsure if I can kill a human after so many years of avoidance. I have no love for common humans. She’s stomping about a bit and hissing her Ss, perhaps cursing.
The fawn is now loaded onto the transport board without altercation. It is also nearly dark as I couldn’t risk changing position until dusk.
“I was hoping for venison stew.” Her voice is young but past childhood. “How about you leave that right here and I’ll let you leave.”
“You have the advantage, miss.” My bow and quiver are down the slope where they have been all day. I can’t decide if their location is a good thing. I hear the hammer ease.
I noisily make my way down the hill in a haphazard fashion, flailing at limbs and anything else in range. I finally drop beside the bow and quiver to look back. Struggling uphill, she had slung the rifle cross-body and it rested on her back. She now has my pack and assorted gear; everything I have for hunting is on that transport board, save the items in my hand.
She looks back several times though the darkness conceals me as I nearly walk beside her. She can’t hear past her own ragged breathing and stomping to maintain traction uphill. I aim and release.
Her screams are harrowing; I’ve disabled her arm at the bicep. The board is waiting for me. She cries, growls and kicks while I bandage her arm and set her on her feet. The rifle I take. I know she’ll not make this mistake again. Nor will I.
Now, to make it a fair distance without the scent of the fawn’s blood attracting a different sort of scavenger.
©2014 Sandra R. Davidson