Silence of hunting, golden moments

Oct. 28, 2013 @ 08:15 PM

It was that moment when I thought about justifying the purchase of a decibel meter.
The wrapper for the whole-grain granola bar was as loud as I have ever recalled. When I looked to my right, slightly down, I could see crumbs, the empty wrapper in hand and two blue eyes looking upward and to the left at me.
It was one of those days that seem to only happen once in awhile, and where the day had begun in silence, was now ending with an audible infiltrate, which seemed to spread from this tree stand to the noticeably empty hills below.
Only eleven hours prior I had stepped into the darkness and hunted for three hours without making a sound, much less leaving crumbs as evidence.
Upon seeing these guilt-ridden blue eyes look at me, it was one more sign that hunting with my youngest son is very different. It was just one sign. There were others, of course.
The walk to this place was unorthodox in that he sang while we walked. The climb up the stand was unnerving as he clanged around on the ladder and giggled with each step. In the stand, there was silence for only 24 seconds until the first of three wrapped morsels, prior to the whole-grain granola, were shuffled, opened, mixed and subsequently ended up in my own hands.
He whistled. He hummed. He talked to himself. He leaned and stretched, and at one point he stood and with his hands clasped behind his head he said, “I like that it is so quiet, Dad.”
Now, our chances of seeing a deer that had all of its senses — like vision, smell, and hearing — were really low. Still, we hunted and watched and admired the birds and noticed the squirrels, and between bites and whistles and all other comical distractions he thought he heard about four dozen deer, bears, coyotes, foxes, turkeys and other game that is or might not ever be native to this landscape.
About 200 yards away, tucked amongst the leaves and branches and well-blended with silence is the tree stand in which I spent three hours of my life earlier that day. Perhaps the game we sought could be found there. Perhaps the silence would be deafening there. Yet what is not there, and what can be seen here and heard here, are guilt-stricken blue eyes whose only transgression is that he secretly ate another granola bar and that, either way, it really is not about hunting and seeing wild critters.
I leaned my head back and rested against the base of the trunk of the tree. I said to him, “You know, this morning when I hunted alone, I didn’t make a sound.”
He looked to me and said, “I’ll bet you were hungry, though.”
Enjoy your time outdoors.

You may email Jason Hawkins at hawkinsoutdoors@msn.com.