The Hunter’s Decision
The Chasing Of The Rare Deer
By P. S. WILMOT
Once in the wintery north of The Rockies, below its base stretches out a vast plain, now fully covered in the accumulation of snow for such a time. Silence stood the homes, immersive lies the distance between the houses in stillness, of pure white. The covering of white as far as one could perceive, with the sporadic whistle of the wind raging across the frosted-land of powdery white snow. The smoky chimney remains the only sign that life thrives within these homes. Slow was the ascent of smoke from the chimney, but steady it remains in their consistency for the fireplaces within.
In times gone by, there were two strangers, one black and one white, who were hunting in a vast area unknown to both individuals.
Their hunt for the legend of a rare deer took both men far away from the snow-covered plains and high in the wintery Rocky Mountain peaks of the misty white surrounding. The trace of the footprints in the snow was as the fast fading of one’s conscience. For the barrage of constant wind and snow, invisible became their tracks on their journey, but their need to succeed became the only conscience for an awareness of their surroundings. Therefore, forward their needs steered them into the great unknown.
Void was the heavens above them of any trace of a cloud in sight, but the fullness of a blizzarding whiteout and the downpouring of snow. Bare were the trees that did remain, with each brittle branch covered in the weight of snow. Such were their outfits and the hunting rifle in their arms.
Although both individuals were in different locations of the great outdoors, their need, and the will to succeed were on par. However, a short journey was now life’s decision.
Without the awareness of where they once were, neither their current position was known to them. Both the strangers were stranded in different locations. At which point in time the sighting of the rare deer became a reality. The black stranger took aim at the rare deer before the white stranger could discharge, while he yet looked through the scope of his rifle. Cautiously, he disengaged his view from the scope as the firing sound of the stranger was heard with the follow of an echo throughout the surroundings. The slower the echo dissipated, the more the professional hunter was aware of the projection of the round as he traced the sound in pursuit of the game. Although it was not his shot, he knew he was not alone in the unknown. And the one who took the shot will as well follow the trail and there they will meet. The helpless animal went down in confusion. Now with the silence of the echo, the struggling of the animal led the hunters to its location. Almost simultaneously, both men arrived at the drop, standing in the accumulation of snow above the knees, without acknowledging one another presence the black stranger had his hunting rifle placed once again in a tilted position while wrapping the barrel and the muzzle with a tape. Though the men stood beside one another in the pouring snow looking upon the animal, but they spoke not a word. For professional hunters, the expected action on their part toward the animal was to be swift. Nevertheless, there they stood motionless rooted to their respective positions. At this point in time, they knew not the way back where they began, if they were to return it was to be after the storm. A camp had to be erected where they stood. And before them was the decision for the extinguishing of life for the preservation of theirs, though uncertain. For they were in the midst of nowhere. Likewise, being high on the mountains, vast was now the distance from the nearest frozen stream in the plains. Without saying a word, they both gazed at the helpless wounded animal because of his inaccurate shot. Both men were outdoorsmen, and they knew the importance of surviving at all costs and before them was an animal yet alive. They had to make a decision between survival or compassion. Broken was the silence through the utterance of the white stranger; you missed.
A clean shot that passes right through the right thigh. “Do you want to do the honor,” asked the black stranger?
The white stranger somewhat hesitated, after a moment of silence he had a different idea. He suggested that they should take care of the deer which wasn’t in danger of dying from the wound of the slug. But if it was to cease to be, it would have been from the excruciating elements wherewith they were all caught up in.
The black stranger was skeptical about this idea because he thought that it would be a waste of time and resources, but he agreed anyway.
They both worked together hurriedly to build a shelter with a fireplace. The men took turns taking care of the animal, combining their rations enabling them to extend the duration of their daily intake. The helpless animal, extremely large in size, rare in its appearance offers not an aid like a third human would, but having it close in their midst provided ample source of warmth. After several days, the deer started to recover and once again was able to walk.
In so doing, their minds were in dire condition, while being helpful in a time of challenge, but knowing this was a very long severe winter.
After many days, the two strangers released the deer back into nature and watched as it ran a path. A peculiar path, as if it was a familiar route and off it went charging into the low visibility of the ongoing storm, until all that was left was the intangible memory they shared and likely no one would ever know of their great compassion. For there was no end in sight to the storm and far away they were from anything they were familiar with. Yet, they both felt proud of themselves for choosing compassion over survival. But the reality of that which was ahead was yet to be determined.
Through the passing of time, hope became like a substance slowly slipping the mind’s ability to keep holding on.
Sitting back-to-back against the position of their postures. They no longer care to see the ravaging effects of the accumulating snow, wherewith they were now stranded. With both their eyes closed, the once strangers were now trusted friends for a decision that could be their last.
Hmm, the white stranger let out a breath, why is it rare?
From a state of silence, asked and responded the black hunter. You mean the deer; why is it called rare? Well, it is free and likely it will survive the entirety of this storm, and we won’t. Between the two of us, we have over 70 years of experience in hunting, and we let go of a large game so we could survive a winter storm? That is rare my friend. Both the men let out a laugh which lasted not a long time due to the extreme cold and weakness they now felt.
Hey, but we could end up being legends in a Sunday school for our noble deeds on these mountains.
“Oh yes, replied the white hunter. The deer just need to be around after a few decades to tell the story to the first missionary up these mountains.”
Darn, we could have taught it how to read and write! Humorously, added the black hunter.
So, do you have a family? Inquires the black hunter.
There follows a period of silence. Yet he respected the silence of the white hunter. In response, softly spoke the white hunter. Through the quivering of his voice, he spoke out. If they would ever accept me again, at least with breath in my lungs I would try to be the best I can be. To my little girl, her brother, and my wife. I acted the fool. I couldn’t even stand my own presence, so I stormed out and remembered the tale of the rare deer. So, I thought I would spend the winter with a purpose of hunting this animal, but then I saw it laying there helplessly. I thought within myself. I might never see my family again for my wrongdoing. They have always loved me, but I’m not sure I have done a great job returning the love. So, I thought, maybe, I can do one last good deed, even if it is for an animal, to let it live.
After those words, there again lingered another silence, but for this time, silence was the black hunter. Till the white hunter nudged his shoulder into the shoulder of his friend. Perhaps, his silence was a reminder of the similarity of his own burden having heard the account of his friend. Nevertheless, he felt woeful was their current condition. And the lighten up of the vibe would suffice. Therein, with his head hunched over and his eyes closed, he rejoined the conversation humorously. I see you plan on doing one last noble deed to step into the great beyond with a great status, by taking a brother with you through those pearly gates huh?
I don’t plan on being a company of yours going down to the other side, groggily the white hunter replied.
Thank you, spoke the black hunter.
What for, asked the white hunter?
This moment here and now, I have lived my life as a loner, but not a weirdo, just my way. So, thank you now for your company. As the black hunter spoke those words, faintly his friend mumbled, I feel nothing, but I hear things.
Don’t you give up on me now.
Though he attempted to turn in hope to comfort and encourage the white hunter, his friend, but their strength was predicated on leaning against each other as the temporal shelter began to cave in from the snow on top. Both hunters at that point in time heard the sounds of multiple hooves, but without the will to utter that which was sensed. In stillness, they remain as the unknown sound magnified within their conscience of which they had not a control of, yet nearer drew the marching sound of coordinated hooves toward their location.
Slowly became their respiration process, yet vividly were their senses, of seeing, but without the physical eyes by perceiving beyond the ears, the heart became a room of discernment.
Motionless, they lean on one another. As the snow continues to crash down within the shelter. Then out from the path where the rare deer disappeared, came a booming voice. As the many hooves came to a stop.
Good thing they are all together. Great job Blue in bringing us back, for you to repay their compassion toward you. We will set up a camp here and nourish them.
The moral of this story is that sometimes compassion can be more important than survival. It is important to help others, even if it means sacrificing your own needs. If the heart is selfish to only see its needs, it shall be driven into a place of isolation and discomfort, while forsaking others. Like the two hunters, Divine order will give the individual a chance for redemption. Like many individuals in life, their life is all about vigorously hunting for the next thing of success. Therein, they are driven further and further away from all that truly matters to them, and through selfishness and greed, the conscience is wiped away like a footprint through a snowstorm. Till that individual is weary and lost, but there will be the opportunity of making things right, which at times will cause a great deal to the individual. However, this is the stage of growth for a change. Such was the decision made by the hunters for the sparing of the life of the rare dear. Yes, the legendary rare deer was right before them. Its blue eyes did glow; they have at last found their success. But What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but loses his soul? Their decision caused them a great deal. Although the deer could have sustained them temporarily. While hoping to display a trophy of the game for a gain. They could not have survived the duration of the storm without the help brought back by the same rare deer. Up in the unknown of The Rocky Mountains, lived a man virtually unseen by all, but his animals, including the deer with the blue glow eyes. Having been spared, it did return to the man, seeing its wound and the healing thereof, he hitched the remaining of the animals with Blue at the front which led the way back to the hunters, in their time of need.