A hunter follows his routines

Sep. 23, 2013 @ 07:35 PM

The naked light bulb is silently persuaded by what remains of an overnight wind. He stands by the screen door, and his left hand lingers along the switch panel.
It is 5:30 a.m., and he is up and dressed as one cup of coffee is being followed by a second on the last Saturday of the summer. His knees are one season older, and his eyesight is another sunrise weaker.
His routines are as viable now as they have always been — one more chapter before bed, tomato and bacon on wheat, left boot laced first, an old camouflage hat with the faded image of a tobacco stalk cinched around his grey hair.
He is this way every morning. He is outside only briefly, then is in the entryway of a dark room. When the light is turned on, the shelves, walls and the spaces are lined with gear, camouflage, fishing tackle and glass gars with random screws and nails. There is a hammer here and a plastic milk crate there.
He lifts the bucket from the workbench with his hand. He takes three trips from the garage to the truck, and he always loads the over-under 20-gauge shotgun last.
His headlights are yellow within the darkness that precedes an encroaching sun. The radio is low, and the channel has not changed in 20 years. For those two decades, he has driven to hunt, fish and all of the other stops along the tracks of life behind yellow lights.
He drives the same way, the same speed and he slows, as usual, upon reaching the two mailboxes with red and blue reflectors. He turns left onto the field road that leads past tall trees and filters into a field known as long-field.
He parks in the same place, turns the lights out first, the motor before openng the door. The darkness is receding, and the distant sky is a timid orange. He walks the same way around the corn field that was cut two weeks ago, and all the while he is witnessing the outline of a lone, elderly elm tree come to life.
He knows the roots of this tree. He knows the branches, where the dead limbs are and he remembers when she was thinner and not as tall. He knows the haw sometimes faces the north and east when it comes here to hunt.
From where his bucket will sit, he arranges the shells in the pocket of his vest and lays the shotgun across his lap. He rests his arms across his midsection while his eyes go limp. His lips are joined, and he listens to the awakening of the world.
The sun is gaining some speed and darkness is being chased off toward the west. The sky is blue and the thin clouds are evidence that somewhere above, a current of air sometimes washes the horizon clean.
His senses are engaged. The sun is behind the hill, and the doves already are taking flight.
He is a hunter. a pursuer of game. He is passionate and deliberate.
From beneath this familiar tree, he knows the doves will enter from his right. There are single birds that dart in, and five birds circle about. While he is reloading, two larger groups of doves infiltrate this place.
His motions are fluid, and his cheek is against the stock. After he has collected enough birds and all of his spent shells, he leaves with the bucket by his side.
His steps are not retraced. Instead, the wheels of his truck and souls of his feet traverse routine paths and routes.
After watching a naked light bulb, seeing the sun chase the darkness and witnessing the doves’ flight, he is again in the room where the shelves are lined.
When it is night and his eyes are heavy, there will be another chapter and he will enter the bed from the right side.
In the morning, tomato and bacon on whole wheat and the observance of the remnants of a breeze will be how he begins another day.
Enjoy your time outdoors.

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