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The fellowship of true hunters

Bill Kight
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They brought his remains down Middle Mountain on horseback, draped over the saddle like in the old westerns. The body had been treated with respect and carefully wrapped in a tarp in a way that concealed the human cargo.We were back at the cabin, resting from our morning hunt, when the local rancher we knew rode up with the sheriff and the pack horse trailing behind.The gentleman’s name escapes me now, and I cannot recall the details of his death, but that does not matter.He was a hunter returning from his last hunt.And for reasons unexplainable, I feel he knew it would be his last hunting trip.The country where he hunted, that my friends and I hunt, is too much for the road-hunting, beer guzzling, unprepared, careless men many of us have met who think they are hunters.That’s why we hunt there. It’s wild-ass country. Steep. No roads, few people.I returned from that country a couple of days ago empty-handed, tired and sore but feeling whole again.It was great to be back in the company of those few who know how much I missed being with them the last few years since my surgery.The presence of competition does not erase the mystery of hunting companionship.If you haven’t been in the midst of true hunting culture since childhood, it’s hard to explain the nature of its effects on the human spirit and psyche.The rules and protocol go unspoken but are enforced by the fear that once violated, the results would be a broken fellowship you could never fully regain.It was an unforgettable experience for me to be with my father-in-law on his last hunt.Because he was suffering from the onset of Alzheimer’s, there were no shells in his rifle. He wasn’t there to make a kill.The letter he wrote to my friend Ralph, thanking him for the invitation to hunt, is much too personal for me to share, the flood of emotions too raw.But there is a small way to relate what I know Perry felt that special last hunt.It’s what lured him to the woods his whole life, and it’s from a poem by his favorite writer, Robert Service, entitled “The Call of the Wild.”Have you gazed on naked grandeur where there’s nothing else to gaze on … big mountains heaved to heaven, which the blinding sunset blazon?Searched the vastness for a something you have lost? Have you strung your soul to silence?Have you wandered in the wilderness, the sagebrush desolation … have you known the Great White Silence, not a snow-gemmed twig aquiver? (Eternal truths that shame our soothing lies) …Have you suffered, starved and triumphed, groveled down, yet grasped at glory, grown bigger in the bigness of the whole … seeing through the nice veneer the naked soul?Have you seen God in His splendors, heard the text that nature renders?… But can’t you hear the Wild? – it’s calling you.A call for one last hunt.Bill Kight, of Glenwood Springs, shares his stories with readers every other week. This one is dedicated to Dave and his hunting companions who helped make his last hunt special.


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