This story is based on the story prompt challenge #12, or the anxiety prompt. The Hunt story is taken from real events and described as it was experienced.
Three buck grazed in the grass near the pond, unaware of having been spotted. I climbed over the barbwire fence as gracefully as I could, however, short legs and baggy pants don’t make a ballerina. The nearest deer saw me, of course. I ducked behind a sage bush and waited for him to go back to eating.
A game of red light green light with the closest buck resulted in my slow progression through the sage brush. He finally got too uncomfortable and took off in his bounding leaps. The other two were still unconcerned as they grazed on the fauna. However, a large expanse of open area separated them from me.
Watching them casually roam just out of range, I couldn’t help trying to sneak closer. I was noticed fairly quickly, but the two buck didn’t seem too concerned. For a moment they actually turned and started coming towards me. My heart started pounding faster and harder. But the deer just went around a bush and continued walking towards where the first had disappeared.
The First Shot
I knew they were still too far away, but I knew in a moment they would just get farther. I drew my bow and centered the lowest sight pin on the second deer. Trying to gauge the distance, I raised the pin higher on the deer. Before the buck decided to move, I released the arrow and watch it slide into the grass ten or fifteen feet short of where the buck had stood.
They both ran, of course. The deer I had shot at ran behind a hedge of willows. The other stopped on top of a small ridge to watch me. As sneakily as I could, I began the trek across the open expanse. Only moving while the buck wasn’t looking at me, the progress was slow. My thighs burned from holding a low squat while the buck watched me between bites. I really think he heard my muscles crying, because every time I shifted, he looked up at me.
Regardless of the slow progress, I made it closer to the grassy patch where I had seen my arrow land. The buck that held me at bay decided I had gotten too close and began to continue climbing the hill ahead of us. Realizing there were no longer any deer remotely within range, I finally stood to complete the last few yards to my arrow.
The Second Shot
I returned the arrow to my quiver just in time to see a buck hop out of the nearby reeds and land on the top of the little ridge. The distance was still a little far, but much closer than the shot I had taken before. I tried to ignore how difficult it was to breathe as I drew and took aim at the buck watching me. I could feel adrenaline pulsing through my head as I released the arrow. The hit was in the dirt, just two feet below the deer.
Realizing that my hunt was over for the night, with more than my share of opportunities, I began dredging straight through the reeds, to keep the disappearance point of my arrow in sight. I heard a rustling, off to my left, but continued, certain that there were no longer any deer left that weren’t watching me from twenty feet up the hill.
I allowed my head and heart to try calming down. The reeds were taller than me and pushing through them was far from quiet. But giving up on being stealthy seemed to allow the anxiety and adrenaline to dissipate. I couldn’t see my arrow poking out of the dirt yet, and I was hoping I hadn’t lost another one.
The Last Shot
Just a few feet from the edge of the ridge, where I would hopefully find my arrow. I heard crashing through the reeds and to my left saw another buck stop on the other side of the ridge. He stood behind a bush but I could still see him watching me. I drew again, the tension of the bow transferring through the muscles in my arms and shoulders, feeling like they would rip apart. But I held steady.
The buck wasn’t in full view, but I could see his head, neck, and shoulder. Another long shot, this time I wasn’t sure if I would be able to see where my arrow landed. With one arrow still in the dirt on my right, I didn’t dare try to keep track of another arrow. A pulsating energy echoed in my head and dared me to take the shot. But with the reeds as tall as me, the arrow would have to travel through them to ever reach the deer beyond.
I didn’t take the shot, and instead lowered my bow and turned to find my arrow. Traveling back to my car, with all the arrows I had arrived with, I realized how short the distance was that had taken me almost an hour to cross before.
Once I got to my car I set down my bow and sat for a moment. The residual adrenaline and muscle workout left my limbs feeling rubbery and shaking slightly. I was lucky to have seen five buck within the short time and small area. Closing my eyes helped calm my senses and let my body relax. Two shots were missed, but I hadn’t lost any arrows and I saw plenty of deer, so the hunt was a success.