Inside the blind dressed in clothes washed in soap meant to mask their human funk, I wait for light and deer. This morning I do not carry the bow.
I walked to this field in darkness, keeping to tree-lines, and made less noise than I imagined, so that unzipping and flicking closed the west entrance, and then opening the half-moon flaps to the north, east and south sounded so loud that I thought every creature for one hundred yards would come to instant attention.
Three days ago we tucked this camoed blind, a form of a lightweight tent, in a mowed patch of cornfield and scrub that deer might use to move from cover to cover. For several days I have been practicing with my friend’s crossbow from a seated position twenty and then thirty yards from a small target. Slowly the bolts have been finding the center.
This morning I have come to sit for the first time and be still. In the darkness, the tops of trees are revealed in faint moonlight, black, silhouetted, asymmetric in shape. The breeze hugs the ground. I can feel its cool run against my face and know that it is swimming along the contours, crackling the dry leaves of the stalks, dipping into this patch and making it a tidal pool of smells. Deer possess scent glands in their feet, their legs, their eyes, their long noses.
Light comes up in overlays like the cells of a cartoon one laid upon another to create movement in time. I have moved very little, a leg stretch, a slow swivel of my head to bring my ears to a sound, to a crunch, to a low something in the overgrowth at the edge of the woods. Mostly, I listen, and when my mind wanders, I bring it back by rehearsing the steps, both safety and killing, I will need to remember to use the bow.
I like being still and waiting out here, away from everything wired.
The first birdcall is a catbird, low from the tree-line behind me. Then a flicker, jays at the tops of trees, the crow family, five together, raucous as children, then many geese directly above me, heading southwest.
It will grow colder. The season goes on to November.