Jason Hawkins Column: A hunter with a camera on a snowy day

Feb. 18, 2014 @ 05:01 PM

I hope to never be a soldier in war.

I am in a field behind my house and with each step, I create more distance from where I was to where I am headed — still a mystery to me.

Luckily, wherever I go the tracks in the snow will eventually lead me home.

It is late in the day. I wear heavy boots and snow pants and a jacket and carry a pack of both essential and non-essential items and a camera and a familiar rifle. I heard coyotes two nights before and the snow creates wonder and tells secrets and I am hoping to discover both.

Eventually, the snow begins falling again and everything is silent. And I think about a soldier and what he might think while covering foreign, snow-covered lands.

There is no evidence of life. There are no tracks to follow. There is no trail to take. It is me and my thoughts. Finally, I find tracks and cedars to provide warmth and cover and a place to hide and observe.

On one side, the tracks are steady, clear and organized. On the other, sporadic. I study them. I scan the landscape and I know I’ve been observed and what a poor soldier I would have made.

I stand and I observe. My pack is heavy and my legs are tired and I find refuge beneath a tree. I replicate the sound of a distressed rabbit, as distressed rabbits might sound.

I wait. I watch. I fidget. I play with the snow in my hand and occasionally I scan the field and occasionally I am alert and occasionally I capture an image with my camera and occasionally I look the part of a hunter.

There is silence and contemplation. The sound of the howling coyote, though produced by my call, echoes and brings attention to the senses and I am hopeful for a reply.

In near darkness, I retrace my steps and I am nearing home when I pause and I ponder a far away hill where the cedars protect and warm and tracks are steady and with purpose and tracks are sporadic and frantic. I wonder of a lone creature, howling. I wonder of a soldier on foreign snow-covered soil.

Enjoy your time outdoors.

Contact Jason Hawkins via email at hawkinsoutdoors@msn.com