Jason Hawkins Column: A hunter with a camera on a snowy day
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 firstname.lastname@example.org