We were entirely distracted looking at what seemed like a doe behind a wall of thick green shrubs. One of us sighting binoculars in as the other was squinting eyes to focus and trying to decipher what was causing the bushes to move. Suddenly as if taking a usual morning stroll around the fields, appears in front of my eyes the sight of my first buck.
He appeared during one of those moments when your eyes need a five-second break to charge on the challenge of identifying game once again from sticks, branches, leaves, and squirrels. Blood pumping fast, face flushing, heart raising, I could hear my heart beat resonating in my ears.
I couldn’t say precisely from what direction he came from.
I have never seen a buck out in the woods in my entire life. First time ever that I had the blessing of witnessing such a fantastic sight and feeling. My heart skipped beats, my mouth dropped, and like a reflex, my right hand landed flat underneath my hunting mentors knee and squeezed hard trying to grab his attention with the intention to communicate an alert to stop moving or making noises because something incredible was standing right in front of our blind.
I couldn’t believe it. I was staring directly at a buck. At that moment, I was so amazed by the whole encounter that I didn’t even count antler points or tried to average weight or age. I was in a daze. Stoked. Speechless. I couldn’t keep my eyes off him. I was totally admiring the way the buck walked, moved, behaved, noticing every single muscle-movement on his robust body as he walked around, how beautifully his coat shinned with the sunlight and sun rays peeking through the tree branches and all the reactions he had every time he heard unfamiliar or perceived as threatening sounds. I was observing every single detail with such precision I couldn’t even hardly breathe.
That’s all it took for me to get motivated and ramp up my personal goals for this coming hunting season. I have been preparing for my first hunt for the past two years. All I had as a goal for this hunting season was only to show up at a public hunting management area and observe others hunting. Now things have changed a little, maybe it’s time to get ready for more than just watching after all. I still can’t believe I sighted my first buck.
I thought I was just watching a sunset… but the sensation within turned out to be much bigger than that…
During a delightful afternoon, with beautiful cool breezy air currents that carried the last textures of a Winter’s end… I felt the need to wander around the woods of a hunting camp of a very good friend of mine. After many painful and unpredictable life changes, the need of going after soul solace seeks began to feel stronger everyday. Without even doing it intentionally, I found my comfort in nature. Everything about nature started to captivate me.
Finding pleasure and contentment in simple little things became my utmost passion. Nature started being present in my heart, in my soul, in my body and in my thoughts. I remember feeling grateful for having the ability of observing sunrises and sunsets. By watching those spectacular events I felt how they illuminated my being with a sense of hope that I had never experienced before. Even rainy days felt like soft velvets covering my skin, as every rain drop fell and ricochet against my face and my body, as every storm passed, as every puddle formed and the smell of petrichor inundated everything around me.
I felt hypnotized by so much power. I found a companion in nature. The world outdoors felt like my best friend, my partner, my confidant and my complement. I loved getting to know this new friend I found on a daily basis, everything about my wilderness friend intrigued me. I became very passionate about the environment and climate. Continuing to expand my knowledge and awareness about wildlife and nature made me feel connected to my inner self.
Today, I feel grounded. Learning about trees, plants and medicinal herbs makes me feel part of this world. All these feelings overwhelmed my soul to such an extreme, that I retracted myself from friends and family for a while. Everyone thought I was sad, but I wasn’t. I was paying close attention to the world around me, around us. I remember thinking how at moments, it became hard to believe that I had been alive in this wonderful world all these years and I took it for granted. I had no more time to waste. I had work to do… I had a world to discover… literally…
As I continued to walk around the hunting camp, I noticed a deer stand in the distance. I felt the urge of climbing up and just sitting there until the sunset spectacle was over and the nights drama began. So I did, I carefully climbed up to this new high altitude unknown perspective, to observe the last colorful sun rays of the day dilute in the profound waters of the sky.
If you pay attention at a sunset, the display of colors in the sky always seems to match your emotions. As they dissolve in the horizon, somehow everything that hurts inside you disappears too. I felt like my heart was a paint brush that was being dipped in a water cup to be cleaned.
The most powerful part of a sunset is the moment where the day is about to close and turn into night. At that precise fraction of a second, there is this pause, the silence, that exact moment feels like the most incredible gift I have ever received in my entire life. Those absent seconds, those precise non-existent seconds remind me that I am alive everyday. They make me aware of my surroundings and feel appreciation for all the beauty nature displays for me daily. They provoke me to breathe the depths of air textures mixed with the humid dirt to serve as a reminder of what I am made of.
Those absent seconds, teach me how to listen to the melodies of the winds, sounding like a potpourri of chirps and chimes of breezes blowing around me to make me realize how far distances I can reach, when I wish things with my whole heart.
They have awakened the thirst to hydrate my soul with the taste of rain, sun rays and river water to deeply evoke on my heart desires. These absent seconds never cease to stop feeding my taste buds with the crave to hunt and scout within me to be true to who I am.
Those absent seconds, make me feel the possibility of almost touching the horizon as every ray of light disappears in the distance. I count them one by one, each one like a resonating vibration of everything that constitutes who I am.
They act as daily set reminders of every single blessing I hold in my heart and in my life. It is just at that precise moment, that I consciously and humbly acknowledge that my biggest blessing of all is my own life and the path I choose to take to live it every single day. Those absent seconds are my daily gift TODAY and EVERY DAY.
As soon as I became fully aware of all this power, I suddenly felt something changed… I felt different…I was connected, I was powered, I felt inspired, I felt primitive and totally intoxicated with my own hunger. Just like that, and without a warning, wilderness came bearing gifts to me. I began to receive and develop all the necessary tools to become a hunter…and I am a huntswoman.
“I have to learn to be an independent woman. So its a process.”- I said.
Let me rephrase that: “I have to learn how to be an Independent Courageous Hunter Woman.”- I repeated.
I told these words to a friend three years ago. She is a very special person in my life. She is one of those people that can know the most horrific things about you and still thinks you are amazing. At the moment that my mouth pronounced those words, I was actually looking at a picture in a hunting magazine. The picture was of a girl on a horse, carrying an elk on her back. I was so damn inspired by this image.
“I have to learn how to be a courageous independent hunter woman. So its a process.”- I said and believed it was all going to be about having the courage.
I thought I had it all down. This thing of being an independent woman had to do with being able to support myself financially, carry my own shopping bags and being able to paint a wall the color I wanted without having to ask “what do you think?” A very simple thing to accomplish for a little tough cookie like me. I was so fucking wrong.
I was absolutely wrong. It had nothing to do with that. The word courage is not what it was about, it was about resistance, tolerance, patience, performance, self confidence, self worth, dignity, values, character, dedication and resilience.
It was about not giving up, trusting the process, listening to my heart and following it but at the same time being humble enough to recognize that sometimes what my heart wanted wasn’t necessarily the best thing for me.
It ended up being about having the ability to accept my limitations and embrace help when it was offered and needed. It was about facing fears I didn’t even realized I had and sweet talking myself back to do things I almost gave up on. It was about persistence.
It was about humbling up to a world that we humans think we can control and trusting on its ability to keep me safe.
It was about learning and embracing fears that controlled my mind, my actions, my choice of words and the way I behaved around people.
It was about letting go of peoples opinion and placing my own on a higher standard. It was about quantifying the value of my worth and all that I have to offer.
It was about redefining the word solitude and finding company and comfort on everything that makes me, Me.
It was about endurance. It was about strengthening my core to be able to withstand the blasting force a woman can feel by crossing the border and entering into a world dominated by men hunters.
It was all about the recoil. The kickbacks we encounter along the way. Those times we flinch back in fear or times we spring back into confidence.
Regardless of the fact that in occasions we let others take our shot, because we are not ready to take it ourselves, at the end its all about that heart-rending freight we all try to avoid.
It wasn’t until I stepped a foot on public land that I understood the word solitude. I have been wandering around these woods for about a little bit more than a year now. When it’s not a rainy day, you can appreciate the nature of consistency. Consistency keeps you moving forward embracing who you are and finding resilience in everything that you encounter in the way.
I used to seek perfection in the past, but now I view consistency as something more beautiful and human. I fail at a lot of things. I fail at a long list of things, but continue to be consistent to where I want to be in my path. It’s true that I don’t know where I am heading. Nonetheless, all the things I don’t want, act like a compass to guide me towards where I want to end up.
In this technologically revolutionized world, I have come to find out that there are still locations, just miles away from the nearest cities, that are still disconnected from the net of invisible lines that control our daily routines through social media. Living, with literally little to no modern day communication settings in my own home, has changed my life. Now, I notice things that I never payed attention to before.
This week the temperature dropped in the morning by eight degrees. The sunrise and sunsets locations have shifted and the sun is beginning to rise later and nightfall is coming sooner.
I have also discovered that walking the woods during a full moon night doesn’t require to carry a flashlight. Spiders build their webs on the same nightly location and for some reason, they seem to always be facing down while waiting to wrap their prays.
After hogs have been rooting in my yard there is always a peculiar scent left behind and my nose picks it up immediately. Rain awakens any silent afternoon as if all frogs, crickets, cicadas and toads united all fronts to pay a symphonic tribute to the water falling from heaven.
There is never a dull moment living out here. If it’s not an entire family of otters crossing your path as you walk towards your mailbox it’s the cows jumping a fence or going under it to get to the neighbors yard.
Some say its a blessing. Others still believe there has to be something wrong with me and possibly have already diagnosed me with some sort of incurable mental illness or disease. I say it’s the latter. Living out here, transforms you. Beyond the tree stump, you find your solitude.