A narrow roadway stretched between the group and me. Trees unlike any seen anywhere else, the structures seemingly holding up the sky of my childhood summer home in the Adirondack Mountains, lined each side of the dirt drive. The buzz of a chainsaw pervaded my young ears, the noxious fumes infiltrating my nostrils, clinging to each nose hair.
The scaffolding of my youth were falling one by one, making way for a new shed, fueling fires months away in the cold of the northern winter. I watched, transfixed as the limbs descended to earth, their first contact.
One of the twins, I forget which, was yielding the saw whose chains meant an ending of a life, the beginning of a fire. I approached the men, as girls of my temperament are apt to do, and listened to their banter.
Another monster was hewn, meeting the ground with a gigantic thud that reverberated through woods. Wiping his brow with an exposed wrist, the twin momentarily let the chainsaw dangle from his right hand.
I was the first to notice the blood running down his blue jeans.
Shrieking at the sight, I pointed to the crudely painted denim, getting redder each passing moment. The men gathered, the leg was exposed, its flesh angry and still bleeding.
The twin sat against a log and laughed as his leg turned inside out. Horrified, I asked if he was okay. He muttered, I’ll be alright.
Deer season, archery specifically, begins Aug. 31, a date I wish would take its time getting here. I feel much like my surrogate brother, the twin whose negligence resulted in a practically severed leg. I feel caught off-guard in a new place, surrounded by new things. I don’t know anything about this area but I know for sure, with the certainty of one blinded by naïveté, that I’ll be alright.
My newly betrothed husband and I just moved from the sunny skies of North Carolina to the otherworldly skies of North Dakota.
We never planned moving this far from home but we needed an adventure. North Dakota seemed like the perfect place for wilderness and mystery.
Sunny skies weren’t all that we left behind. We left friends, many of who never knew we moved until weeks later. We left family, reliable restaurants, superb BBQ, sub-par waterfowl hunting, and a whole slew of land absolutely full of ambulating venison.
Solo hunts in North Carolina were easy. I’d pack my beloved Jeep, drive about 20 minutes, unload, and venture to my tree stand. After ascending the stand, I would nap, check my distances and prepare for sunup.
Every morning, a hoot owl I lovingly named Hank would rouse my slumbering form. More often than not, I would awake to the sight of eight deer running across the ridge to my left. All does, one fatter than the next, too far for a shot but close enough for me to hear the grass laying flat underneath their hooves.
I knew what to expect in North Carolina, which days to hunt, which days to stay in bed. I knew where to shoot, where to set up, and where to score the cheapest Glacier Freeze Gatorade and Apple Cinnamon Nutri-Grain bars.
Not so in North Dakota.
The land we’ve secured from family friends an hour from home is vast, about 100,000 acres vast. There is land closer to home, as well. But all I know for certain is my agenda no longer revolves around the east coast king, the whitetail.
My heart is set on a muley this year. Before moving here, I’ve never seen one except in magazines. Likewise, I haven’t scouted, shot my bow nearly as much as I should have, or asked permission – anywhere.
This season will be tough for sure but I have one tag to my name, the long adhesive kind that will be awkward to keep track of. I’m absolutely anxious for this season to begin, as I haven’t had venison tacos in months. The utterance of “ground beef” causes stomach acid to churn angrily at the notion.
If the twin, again, I forget which, was able to look at his seeping leg with a sense of humor, than so shall I. I shall succeed this season, come hell or hooting owl. It won’t be easy, nor painless, akin to tearing a blade out of a muscled calf, but it will be what I came here for: an adventure.
The Writing Huntress writes, hunts, and wears a lot — a whole lot — of camouflage face paint. She has a soft spot for adopted pets, which makes it no surprise that her home is run by three rescues, Dixie, Titus, and Avery. TWH is married to an admitted huntaholic who is refusing treatment and oftentimes is lost for days only to be discovered wearing a ghillie suit. She can be found, with him in tow, surely, at the nearest blind, tree stand or whiskey emporium.