It’s Hunting Season

hunting season

Deer in Blue Mood by Nicole Gelinas http://www.fineartamerica.com

It’s 6AM and still pitch black outside. I’m outside with the dog on our first walk of the day around the property. I’ve already done my morning meditation and have felt the surge of energies coming in from above. It’s a beautiful morning, not too cold. The moon is just past full and I can see Venus shining in the Southern sky.

As I walk, I do my morning prayers, blessing the world, my property and all of creation. I stop and look at the moon as it begins its descent for the day. And I thank it for sharing its beauty with me. I just stand there soaking up the silence. No planes, no cars, no equipment running and no gunshots. I allow the peace and the moonlit morning to envelop me as I bless the day.

And then I hear it. The gunshot. And it is close. It jars me so much tears begin to flow. Its hunting season here and I live in the country. I have allowed myself to be wide open as I connect with the day and the gunshot rattles me to the core. It’s dark outside and they are not supposed to hunt deer in the dark. I look towards the sound and I can see the red light from the gun through my naked trees. And I hurry back into the house with the dog. Although they are not on my property, they are close.

Last fall they clear cut that land behind my house and I mourned the loss of those magnificent hardwood trees. The noise and dust were overwhelming, and I felt that my space was being invaded.  But the loggers were just doing their job and they were very respectful of me, as much as they could be under the circumstances. Fortunately, I have a little buffer of my own trees before you see the damage done. After it was over, some friends and I did ceremony out there for the lost trees and I felt better.

Now it is deer hunting season and the owner of that land allows hunters to use it. And although I am not a hunter, I understand that the deer need to be culled. I’ve lived through hunting seasons every year that I’ve been on this land. But this year is different because of the clearcut. It’s easier for them to see with the trees gone. I suspect the hunters come in and put down deer corn and just wait, hiding with a clear view of the deer. This year they are hunting closer to my house although they are still within legal limits.

I told myself that when I heard them shoot a deer on Thanksgiving morning as I was preparing the feast for the company coming later that day. But once again it upset me and I had to calm myself down. I could hear the hunter in his glee saying ‘I got it, I got it!’ as I silently blessed the spirit of the deer that was killed. I think it was the buck. I just saw that buck on my land a few weeks ago and I marveled at how handsome he was. At the time I did a silent prayer that he would survive hunting season. I don’t think he did. They came back after dark the next day with an ATV, four of them retrieving the deer carcass.

This is the time of year that tests me. How do I not judge these hunters because I love those deer so much? I try to put myself in their shoes with the adrenaline rush of the hunt and the thrill of the kill. I try to see them ‘just like me’ doing something that they love. And I remind myself that they will be using the meat for food.

But it is hard. All the teachings I share about this life being an illusion come to mind and I am challenged to remember them in my grief. All I can think of doing is to light a candle for the hunted and the hunters. I don’t know these men. They could be my neighbors who would help me in a second if I needed it. Being hunters does not make them bad people.

I think of how the indigenous peoples honored the animals they killed for food. The respect and gratitude expressed for the animal giving its life so that they could survive. I don’t know if these hunters do that or even understand that concept, though I am sure they are grateful for the meat. And so, I do my own ceremony for the cycles of life here upon this land adjacent to mine.

Hunting season ends on January 1st. Another month to go. More time for me to learn to toughen up to this cycle of life. There is a part of me that wants to find that deer corn and pour human urine on it so that the deer don’t eat it. That is my human, visceral response. But is that truly the best response from a spiritual perspective?

Just as I was the one who mourned those magnificent trees that were felled last year, I can also honor the fallen deer as they give up their life’s breath for another’s life. That I can do and will do until this season ends. They will be in my prayers along with the hunters, for we are all one. Even if the hunting causes me distress, we are still all one and don’t I have to walk my talk?

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