Facing the Hunter

Facing the Hunter by David Adams Richards Read Free Book Online

Book: Facing the Hunter by David Adams Richards Read Free Book Online
Authors: David Adams Richards
Tags: Literary Criticism, Sports & Recreation, Canadian, hunting
might be a stranger.) My friend looked chagrined and ready to take a raking, until he saw my young buck and became certain he had left me here intentionally because he knew I would have the luck I did. He has never given up that absurdity, and I have long since stop questioning him about it.
    In the woods, more emphatically perhaps than anywhere else, this is and can be seen as fate, not chance or luck. This is perhaps why so many of the old woodsmen I have talked to over the years believe in fate more than chance. Even if our world has gone on to embrace all the modern conveniences, and we have convinced ourselves that the things we do are managed by ourselves and ourselves alone, that we have become as much at the top of the food chain as the gods we once spoke about, there is a time, upon reflection, when most of us become aware of the fact that we manage very little. It can only take a second for us to realize this. A sudden turbulence while flying is one way to bring attention to this.
    That is, none of us has ever been able to predict with certainty the final results of any action we start. Or of ahunting trip we are on. Whether hunting, fishing, or any other activity, so many other factors are involved that our participation is always subject to forces over which we have little control. Or our own nature, which always, in some ways, betrays or surprises us. However, there are certain episodes in the wilderness that do seem preordained. Like the first deer I took, or the first partridge, for that matter.
    A young widow hunting moose is a case in point. Her husband never managed to have luck hunting moose, though he had prepared, and scouted the territory, and was adept at calling. Hunting moose was to him, like so many from the Miramichi, the great quest.
    Over time this man had come close, but he was killed in a highway accident before he managed to get his moose.
    It was his widow who decided to put her name into the draw and go hunting for him. She had never hunted before, and had to take a gun course, and pass a shooting exam. She did, and went out hunting the year after his death, far up on the Renous where her late husband had hunted, asking her brother, who had come in to help her, to stop at the place her husband had last hunted.
    Her brother tried to dissuade her, because he hadn’t scouted there at all and was hoping to take her toward the lakes ten miles farther in. But she insisted, though she had never hunted or even been there before.
    “I am not doing this for me, I am doing this for him,” she said.
    They set camp late on Wednesday night, in the dark and the rain, and she hardly slept. She was up before dawn, shivering and shaking. It was a gloomy, cloudy day, withrainwater still dripping off the leaves, and the clearing was damp and foggy. Yet at 7:36 on the morning of the first day of the moose hunt, without them even calling, a fourteen-point bull moose came into the clearing where her late husband had called the year before. And though the shot from the .306 put her on her ass, she accomplished for her late husband something he hadn’t been able to.
    To say this is maudlin and sentimental might be true enough. But to say it is grand and courageous and in a strange way life affirming is true as well. The life-affirming moments of the hunt are moments both elusive and tenacious. No man or woman who ever kills in spite will hold to them. I am not certain how much this is known or regarded now.

    I think moose have more personality than deer, are more graceful in the wild, more defining of the great northern world. They are the most distinguished of the deer family, heavier than elk and, in their own sublime way, far more majestic, though it is elk that get all the press. To see a gentleman’s reading room from early in the last century is to see a bull elk head above the mantel. It proved that this gentleman had enough money to go out west and shoot something that registered to others as a kind of

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