By Oak Duke
Whitetail hunting wraps up our will and desire and envelops us in a number of folds.
It's mirrored in our breathing.
We take in the beauty of nature and our being there at the cusp of fall's peak and
splendor with a deep breath.
We who spend so much time up in the trees experience the leaf change firsthand. We
reach out and touch it, literally.
And, too, the challenge of out-foxing the wily buck's senses is faced each time we
attempt a close encounter.
Our best planning, careful preparation, practice and scheming are pitted against the
finest tuned prey animal's instincts and abilities.
We are the chess player and the piece, the trapper and the trap, the music and the
guitar, all at the same time.
We make our best set, best move, best riff and call it a stand each time we go hunting.
We hope we're placed right, but most often we get smelled out. And we ponder over the
board and are the capturing piece.
But above all, when it's all said and the doing is eminent, we are in position for the
consummation of our ontological foundation, like a keystone; we must make the one
The moment of the shot is but a second, but it is the peak experience.
What a breath!
Here we put it all on the line.
Here above all others are where we define ourselves as success or failure.
Never more clear-cut.
Either we execute or blow it.
The shooter either exults or sucks in the air of bitter disappointment.
And it's all very physical. Our hearts pound. We sweat and our breathing is altered.
Deep, tiny, forgotten glands pump and squeeze, bringing thoughts and feelings up from
the chromosomal depths of the primordial double helix.
Sometimes we forget to breathe.
Our hearts stop here.
As the buck slowly and tentatively moves into range, sometimes he's so close and it's
so quiet that we can hear him breathe.
And with one arrow we try to snatch his breath away and make it ours.
But no matter how close a whitetail is, he's still a long ways away.