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I attended a Native American Pow-Wow in Douglas, MA a few years ago with my wife and children. Being an eighth Penobscot Indian I was excited to learn a bit about a heritage I’d never really investigated. While there, I struck up a conversation with an elderly gentleman who was selling handwritten books about Indian crafts and customs. One book about primative Native American hunting caught my attention; I leafed through the inked pages and wound up purchasing the fifty page hand written guide for fifteen dollars. I didn’t realize the wealth of knowledge contained within these pages or the once in a lifetime experience studying this book would allow me. I learned something about myself during a cold November afternoon and the lesson has stuck with me for years.

I’d been trailing this buck for almost four miles, crawling through some of the thickest briars I’d ever seen. At times I had to crawl on my belly like a GI going through a barbed wire course in order to avoid the overhanging razor sharp barbs. Through every foot and every bead of sweat I knew I was getting closer to my quarry. After five weeks of patient tracking and observation I knew where he’d be and how he moved, especially when he felt threatened. Another quarter mile or so and I’d be in his bedroom.

I paused briefly and got a quick gauge of my surroundings; the wind was still blowing towards me and I could see my quarries’ fresh droppings still glistening a mere fifteen feet ahead of me. I was close. My Bob Lee recurve bow was tucked in a pouch inside a leather quiver on my back along with two arrows. I’d only need a minute once I cleared the heavy briars to set up my bow and finish the last leg of my stalk. I clawed my way forward slowly, clearing the last few feet of overhanging barbs and eased my way up into a crouching stance. There was a large oak tree directly ahead of me and I crept up to it and quietly lifted the quiver off my back. I slowly opened the zipper pouch, cursing the sound the metallic teeth made as they slid apart.

The bow went together quickly and I carefully laid my weapon down on the ground and began to undress. I removed my bulky shoes and sox and placed them by the tree. I quietly slid out of my camo jacket and removed my shirt. My pants slid off next and I quickly piled all my clothing into a plastic bag I’d brought just for this purpose. The cold didn’t bother me much because my heart was pumping blood and adrenaline through my veins at an alarming rate. I took a hand full of dirt and moss and began to smear it all over my arms, legs and torso, rubbing as much dirt into the pores of my skin as I could. I took another handful to mulched soil and worked it into my hair and face to conceal not only may pale, pink flesh, but to mask my human scent as much as possible. The final step was the crushed pine needle spray I’d brewed the night before, I held my breathe and misted over my chest, legs, face and arms with several short bursts. I exhaled slowly and took in a short controlled breath. I could smell the musty forest floor and the scent of pine but nothing else.

There would be no cheating on this stalk; there would be no doe pee our buck urine attractants or hundred dollar camouflage clothing. There’d be no doe or fawn calls this time and no sitting in a tree stand or blind waiting for the deer to come to me. There was no food or scent lures this hunt; I was in his world, he had the advantage here, not me. I was entering a world where I was the intruder out of his element. This, to me, was the way hunting was meant to be, not some commercialized modern interpretation. My arrows were of my own creation, the quiver was home made as was the Dacron 50 bow string I’d just placed on my weapon. There were no cams or power wheels or bow sights on my bow; it was simply a string, two limbs and a laminated wood riser. I took four more shallow breaths, allowing myself a minute to adjust to the surroundings and become familiar with the background noises in this part of the forest. I gently picked up my weapon and knocked an arrow on the bowstring. I knelt down by his tracks, picked up a finger full of mud and rubbed it across my chest igniting the predator inside me.

I moved forward along the trail, one to two steps every fifteen to twenty seconds. My ears strained to hear every noise and my eyes intently scanned the dense foliage for any unusual movement or pattern. I knew he was here, nearby. I had to spot him before he spotted me or this stalk would be over and I’d come away empty. I moved forward another fifty feet when I heard the snapping of twigs to my right side. I froze in place not moving a muscle. As slowly as I dared, I tuned my head slightly in the direction of the sound and strained my eyes in that direction. There he was, even bigger than I’d imagined! I couldn’t make out his entire outline, just the front half of him. He was working over a scrape, aggressively marking his territory. I watched his front legs tear into the ground with a deliberate, aggressive frenzy that only the Rut can bring about in these majestic animals. I knew if I moved he’d detect me. I could feel my bare feet sinking slightly in the soft earth as the cold mud covered my toes and heels. I fought the urge to move because any step now would give off a hollow sucking sound as my feet escaped the muck in an effort to move forward. After ten long minutes the buck moved deeper into the cover. I took the arrow off the bow and carefully moved as much of the mud from around my feet as possible and gently lifted each foot, moving forward in short slow steps. My arrow was caked with mud and totally unsafe to hunt with now. I reached into my back quiver and freed my second shot and placed the used arrow point down in the trail to be recovered later.

I moved off the trail and toward the direction my quarry had traveled, careful to avoid the dried twigs and saplings that carpeted the forest floor. I hadn’t anticipated him leaving the trail he’d been using for so long. But this was what made hunting, real hunting, such a challenge. I silently wished for a pair of light gathering binoculars, I’d have been able to watch my prey as he ventured deeper into the woodlands. I approached his fresh scrape and could smell the musky odor from his fresh urine and tarsal glands. This buck was ready to mate and would be careless of its own safety at this point. The need to propagate overrode any sense of danger or caution. I moved a bit quicker to try and close some of the distance I’d lost freeing myself from the muddy game trail. As I moved along, my feet lost the sensation of cold. My hearing grew sharper and I was, again, the apex predator.

I heard more thrashing and took the opportunity to walk ahead at a brisk pace covering nearly twenty to thirty yards. I spotted him working his massive tines against the trunk of a young cedar tree. Even at this distance I could smell the distinct aroma of freshly cut cedar pulp as the bucks antlers tore though the thin bark and shredded the soft inner sapwood. For the first time since I started tracking him I was able to see his entire body. He was a beautiful animal, easily two–hundred pounds with three heavy tines on each antler. I knew he was probably three or four years old, a male buck just coming into his prime. I stalked even closer, barely forty yards separated us as I measured and weighed each tiny step closer. I could feel the wind blowing at my side and could hear the rustling of each leaf that still clung to the trees of this brisk New England fall afternoon.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Hunter not a killer... cont'd

A mere thirty yards now separated me from my quarry. I could feel my heart racing and my breath increase with each step. Despite my best effort I could feel Buck Fever consuming me. I ceased my stalk and found a temporary respite behind a sizeable red oak tree. After several controlled breaths I felt able to continue my hunt. I took a quick moment to rub fresh earth on myself before peeking to see my target. He hadnt moved yet. He was enthralled with shredding the hapless young sapling. From this distance it was easy to see the yellow bits of cedar pulp that decorated the brown, leaf covered ground below him. I took off my back quiver and left it behind the tree and dropped to my stomach, holding my bow and one arrow out in front of me. I crawled closer, toward another tree, using its bulk to cover my advance. After what seemed like hours, but took only a few minutes, Id made it to the tree. I knocked the arrow and prepared for my shot. My heart began to beat like a trip hammer, this was the moment of truth, the moment Id spent the last two months practicing, scouting and rehearsing in my mind and seeing in my dreams. I silently slipped out from my position of cover and with well rehearsed movements drew on my unsuspecting quarry. My right hand drew back to the anchor point on the right corner of my mouth and my left forearm pointed toward the heart and lungs of my prey; all I need do is relax my finger tips and claim my prize. My prey looked over and spotted me. It froze. I froze as well. We stood there for several heartbeats, predator and prey gazing onto each others eyes knowing what was supposed to occur next.

The buck didnt move; it didnt turn tail and run as I expected it would. It seemed almost surprised that I had gotten so close. My fingers continued to hold the 65 pound recurve at bay, staying the inevitable outcome of predator and prey. We were bound together for these short seconds by a single Port Orford cedar arrow suspended on a bow string. The predator took glee anticipating the kill but the hunter was satisfied with the stalk. I could feel my arm shaking as I continued to hold back. The deer took one step sideways, wondering if it should flee. I looked into its eyes again and knew I wasnt going to kill this majestic creature. My arm ebbed with relief as I slowly lowered my bow and stretched my contracted right arm muscles. I dropped my bow and the sound seemed to echo throughout the forest. To my amazement the deer watched the bow fall and then looked back at my earth and moss covered body. He backed up another step, never taking his eyes off me. I withdrew two steps and felt the urge to do something that now, as I look back, feel totally ridiculous admitting. I nodded and half bowed to this creature and thanked it for the opportunity for such a wonderful experience. The deers head stood up majestically and he slowly looked me up and down one last time. Without giving me another glance, this large six pointer faded deeper into the forest eventually disappearing into the cacophony of trees and undergrowth.

I stood motionless for another two minutes digesting what Id just done. Id let the buck of a lifetime walk away after months of scouting and preparation. For all the time and sacrifice I now had nothing to show for my effort. The predator in me was disgusted, but the hunter in me was strangely content. I hadnt failed, really. I set out to see if I could stalk a deer in its own back yard. I trained and studied the techniques and put those techniques to practice. I successfully tracked and hunted my quarry. I could have made my kill but I chose not too. I believe that the hunter knew that a kill now would cheapen the experience, ruin the moments when I was a part of the natural world, a part of the circle. I didnt need the kill to be successful; the hunter in me knew that all along. It wasnt about the kill it was about being able to make the kill on my own terms. I was a hunter, I didnt; need the technology of today, I could become part of the woods and become a part of the circle. That was more important than a trophy or a freezer full of meat that I didnt really need.

I am a hunter, not a killer. I think I can live with that.
 

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Obsessed Huntress
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That's the story of a real hunt. Way to go!
 

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Member
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16 Posts
Im still shaking after reading your article.

BACK TO ROOTS!!!!!!!!!!!
 

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Senior Member
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I enjoyed that,thanks:)
 

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Most excellent. I very much enjoyed it.

Thanks for your time typing it out for us to enjoy.

Brian
 

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46 Posts
A great story. I sincerely hope you keep a hunting log. It will be one for the memory for years to come and to be shared.
 

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Wow, went back to this archived story and whew, what a story, what a thrill, I was so lost into it I forgot to breathe.
 

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Wow

huntingal said:
Wow, went back to this archived story and whew, what a story, what a thrill, I was so lost into it I forgot to breathe.
Thanks for digging that up.
 

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Flying Dutchman
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What a great story. Thanks for writing it down and share it with us. And heritage to be proud of.
 

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Senior Member
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That's a great story, good find huntingal thanks.
 

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Senior Member
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3,188 Posts
Great story! I enjoyed it immensely. :cool:
 

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Senior Member
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1,098 Posts
Wonderful story.Thanks for sharing it with us.
 

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512 Posts
My signature quote is; ''It's not the kill, but the hunt, where memories are made.'' Your story says just that. Thanks.
Kenny
PS. When I learn how to post my signature, I'll put it up.:nopics:
 

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Really enjoyed that story ie. hunt. Very impressive.
 

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Registered
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Great story thank for sharing!!
 
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