First Hunt

My foot falls are marked by the crackle of twigs and papery leaves,

Around me, I know they’re watching, waiting; they’re somewhere.

Pulling my spindly frame up the ladder, I see the woods differently.

As I rise from the floor to the canopy, the grey rocks and leaves and knotted brush slowly give

way into the open, elegant lines of tree trunks.

The leaves shimmer, shivering in the cold crisp air.

Hanging my pack, I listen, trying to distinguish the rhythmic sound of footsteps from the rattling of trees. Somewhere, something is listening as intently as I do.


As the sun slowly fades above the trees, the wind dies, revealing a forest full of hidden life, disguised by the trees and stones.


Something is there.


The rhythmic crinkling of footsteps moves around my tree, invisible, taunting me.

Suddenly the rhythm, more discernible against the falling of leaves, gets nearer.

The sky dims.

The footsteps stop abruptly, listening for something I can’t hear, looking for something I can’t see.

A moan.

A scream.

The terrible exclamations of coyotes bounces off the old stone walls, echoing in woods, bloodchilling.

The nightmarish noise makes me grip the gun tighter.

The biting November wind sweeps in to accompany the joyous screams of wild dogs.

My fingers are numb, my gloves penetrated by the air.

My toes, in the warmest socks, are snapped at by the hungry cold.


As the sky mellows into a dark blue, the light disappears.

Shadows become more defined.

My hopes dim with the light.

The something, just beyond sight, eludes my vision and taunts the gun.

One final clamour of coyotes announces the arrival of the night.


I climb down the ladder carrying the sun with me, plunging the forest into darkness,

a shadow only penetrated by the eerie white light of my lamp.

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