My heart pounded as I stared into the unfamiliar darkness as two strange men in hooded sweatshirts headed our way. I nervously stayed from sight as they approached him from behind. With my courage wrapped in trembling hands I tightened the grip and prayed.
I’m a country girl, a native, raised in Central Oregon. Growing up in Bend, surrounded by lakes and forests with abundant wildlife, the only place my family ever vacationed was hunting and fishing, and then it was practically right in our own backyard. After I married Dennis, we traveled a little but never ventured far. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought 10 years later, life would bring us here, to this unfamiliar, foreign place where I now stood on a bridge in the Bronx in fear, clutching a .357 revolver as if my life depended on it, and at that moment, I believed it did.
The hum of the diesel engine filled the cab as Dennis and I bounced down the dark Interstate without talking. It had been a long day and it was getting late. We wanted to park for the night but we had to get through the city before we stopped to avoid morning rush hour traffic. The horses we hauled had all been fed and watered hours earlier but they too were likely ready for us to stop, allowing them to relax and sleep before reaching their delivery destination the following afternoon. The large custom eleven-horse trailer had ample room for each horse to comfortably sleep without laying down which horses only need to do every few days. I glanced at the road atlas to see what our options were.
“Once we get past the city we should be able to stop. There has to be a shopping mall or a truck stop we can park in for the night,” I said as I checked the map and found a nearby place to shoot for.
“Uh oh, that isn’t good.” Dennis said with concern in his voice as he glanced down at his foot on the throttle, tapping it to the floor.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“Something’s wrong with the throttle, I think the throttle cable just broke,” he said.
As the truck began to slow, Dennis steered for the shoulder.
“Oh no, what are we gonna do?” I said with concern.
“Maybe I can jury rig it to get us by. I can probably fix it temporarily with some wire.” Dennis assured me.
After a few minutes under the hood Dennis climbed back in and started the truck. He pressed on the gas pedal and the engine accelerated. “I think that’ll work.” But we quickly learned that the problem wasn’t solved. We couldn’t gain any speed, but we were moving along slowly. Thankfully there was little traffic due to the late hour.
“What now?” I asked.
“Once we get across the bridge there should be a safe place to pull over so I can try and fix it, hopefully at a service area that has some lights,” he said.
We crossed over the George Washington Bridge that expands across the Hudson River and separates the state of New Jersey from New York. Soon after we entered the Bronx we rolled into a service area. Not a service station like we were used to out west but a wide spot in the road with a small building that contained public restrooms, a gas pump and a pay phone. Everything was shut down for the night and the lights in the pullout area were dim. There was no one around.
“I don’t like this one bit,” I told Dennis as he hopped out of the tall semi-truck’s cab.
“Oh it’ll be alright. It’s well lit and it shouldn’t take me long to fix it. Wire will hold until tomorrow then we can replace the part.” As Dennis shut the door behind him, I climbed through the crawl-through window into the large sleeper so he could tip the cab of the truck forward to access the engine. The truck was a UD cab-over made by Nissan, we always joked that UD stood for ugly diesel and right now it was living up to the name. I handed him a flashlight so he could see as he worked under the dark hood. I glanced at my watch, 12:03 am. Oh my, it’s late.
“Do you need me to hold that?” I asked, referring to the flashlight.
“No it’s good lying here, I can see.” I was relieved he didn’t need my help, out there. I wanted to stay out of sight in the dark living quarters and keep watch. I reached in the drawer and pulled out the handgun and laid it on the counter. Then I sat down on the edge of the bed next to our sleeping baby daughter, and nervously watched out the window as Dennis worked bent over under the hood. A car slowly pulled into the lot up next to the closed service building. My heart fluttered as two men dressed in dark clothing stepped out of the car and began to walk towards our truck. I quickly stuck my head out the crawl-through and quietly told Dennis, “Two guys are coming this way.” He looked up and saw they held a small gas can in their hand. I reached down and picked up the pistol and removed it from the leather holster. My heart pounded with fear as I anxiously watched them approach in the darkness. As the two men moved toward Dennis, they split up, each approaching him from a different side. Oh my God, I thought. Why are they doing that? What are they gonna do? They probably saw our Oregon license plates and this big fancy horse trailer and think we’re carrying cash. They were right; however most of the money we carried was personal checks from clients, payment for delivering their horses on this trip.
As the two men moved towards Dennis in the dark, one on each side of the truck, I stepped up to the crawl-through with the revolver firmly in my grip. Making my presence known; I stuck the barrel of the .357 magnum through the opening. The guys mumbled something to Dennis that I couldn’t quite make out their words.
“No, we don’t, sorry,” Dennis replied. “There is a small town up ahead not to far though,” Dennis added as he pointed in the direction we were headed. Then the two dark figures walked back to their car and got in. With great relief, but still holding the Smith and Wesson, I asked, “What did they ask you?”
“They said they were out of gas, and asked if I had any.”
“It’s a diesel truck, why would we have gas?” I said as I watched them pull away.
“They just went back the way they came from! The nearest town is in front of us. I don’t think they needed any gas.” I said, with relief they were gone.
“Are you almost finished?”
“Yep, I fixed it, with a piece of baling wire. It should hold until we can locate a UD dealer and buy a new cable,” Dennis said as he lowered the cab and latched it shut.
“Let’s get out of here. I don’t like this place.” I said as I crawled headfirst through the hole, over the infant car seat, back into the cab.
“Me neither,” Dennis agreed as he settled into the driver’s seat and started up the noisy diesel engine. “Thank you Jesus,” we both said as the truck accelerated and we gained speed, and safely headed on our way.
* * * * *
This was one of the top 10 winning entries to the CO Writers Guild 2012 Literary Harvest Contest.
Two nights ago, just 10 minutes after my husband arrived home from work we heard a horrific noise towards the front of our small acreage. At first I thought it sounded like a car racing by shooting an automatic weapon. Then I thought it sounded like someone losing their load of metal and garbage off a flatbed trailer as they traveled too fast down our narrow country lane. We ran outside to the porch. I smelled a strange odor...dust or smoke billowed past the end of my driveway as I sprinted in flip-flops down our gravel drive. Then a huge plume of dust billowed in front of the neighbors house ending in what I thought was an explosion. As I reached the street still unable to see, I heard a woman screaming for help. My blood raced and chills ran down my spine at what I might see when I topped the hill. I knew it was something terribly bad.
As I reached the street I was met by my neighbors running down the road with me. My phone rang...the song "Fancy"...I knew it was my daughter whom had left home earlier that same day returning to college.
"Hi Michelle," I answered, trying to sound calm but failing miserably as I was out of breath and adrenalin raced.
"Hi, I just wanted to let you know that I talked to..." she went on.
"Honey, I can't talk right now..." I interrupted, " I think there's been an accident on the front of our property." Then she started asking questions as I topped the hill and saw the street covered with garbage and debris...papers littered the street for a hundred or more yards. I searched for the jackknifed trailer that had carried the load. There was none. Then I spotted the vehicle laying on it's side in the middle of the horse field. The result of multiple rolls down the hill, through the fence and across the field.
"Is is bad?" Michelle asked.
"Yes, it's bad." I replied.
"Oh my God is Daddy OK?" she asked in a terrified voice.
"Why are you so upset?" I asked.
"You said it was Dad!"
"Oh no baby, I thought you said is it BAD, No it's not Daddy, he is fine." Then I began to tremble for frightening Michelle, tears filled my eyes.
I hung up the phone to see my neighbor calling 911. I spotted a male body laying in front of the crumpled SUV. I was afraid to approach, in fear of what I might see but I knew I had to. I ran to the wreckage. Thank God he moved, he was alive. His shirt was covered in blood the size of a soccer ball. His right arm was covered in blood. I told him to lie still that help was on the way. People from my neighborhood ran to assist the woman driver stuck in the rig hanging upside down in the seat-belt. Three people held her dangling body upright. She gurgled as she struggled to breath. My husband was one. He squatted on top of the SUV hanging on to the severely injured woman. He focused on her neatly french manicured nails that dug into his blood smeared bare arm to avoid looking at her exposed brains. Blood dripped down on the small framed neighbor woman that helped hold her body. My husbands hands trickled blood of his own from small cuts from the broken glass.
Others gathered to assist and wait for the ambulance that was taking an exceptionally long time to arrive...they couldn't find the way they said. I focused my attention on the herd of 6 horses that raced and kicked and continually tried to approach the wreckage. I worried about the injured man laying on the ground being trampled. I spotted some hay and ran and grabbed flakes to distract and calm the excited snorting equines. It worked for a while. The man on ground mumbled about "messing up" and "leaving the baby alone". He insisted I call a number. "I messed up," he said. I asked his name, he said it was Ray. He said they had been baby sitting..."they need to know about the baby," Ray said as he he looked up at me. His eyes were crystal blue, but glazed...is he drunk? It could be shock, I thought. Grey stubble covered his chin...he needed a shave. His hair was short his frame was very small. Thoughts of my deceased brother-in-law flooded me, he had a roll-over accident from high speed driving drunk. I walked away and called the number. The woman on the phone didn't know Ray or anything about a baby but started asking me all kind of questions. "Where is the accident?" I confirmed there was no baby there and she did not know Ray then hung up the phone still waiting for rescuers to arrive.
Liqueur bottles scattered across the dirt field. A box of Fronzia wine lay next to the overturned vehicle where it had been thrown from the car. I looked around at the debris of post-it notes, receipts, a checkbook, the woman's black purse and cell phone, an old pillow. Junk mail and opened envelopes of mail littered the street for hundreds of feet. Time passed slowly. Thirty minutes passed and help had not yet arrived...they only had 3 miles to travel. We could hear sirens getting louder and then the faded and went silent. I saw my husband talking on the cell phone with one hand as he strained to hold the woman with the other. He's calling 911 again. I heard the woman moan. Someone jumped into a truck and headed up the road to flag them down and lead them to the wreck site.
They finally arrived and began assisting the woman, removing her from the overturned car. One rescuer attended the man on the ground. They yelled that the Air Life helicopter was on the way and would land in the neighbors pasture.
The horses now tired of the hay, headed towards the downed fence. I shooed them back. We grabbed a halter and caught the lead mare and led her to another pasture, the herd followed minutes before Air Life arrived. The woman, Jennifer we later heard, was loaded into the helicopter, Ray was transported in the ambulance.
The following morning our quiet country lane was covered with pink spray paint marking the "out of control" speeding vehicle's path. No one witnessed the accident but 1 person saw them pass his home at a speed of near 70. "They got air going over the hill in front of my place, " Roger told the sheriff deputy. It was believed that alcohol and high speed was the cause. I felt guilty thinking I should have done more. Why didn't I run to help the trapped woman as my husband and others had. I tried to tell myself... I did the what I knew...dealing with the horses.
I picked up the discarded crime tape and found a grocery receipt on the ground. I was sure it came from the wreckage. Four bottles of wine and a bag of chips is all that the was purchased at 9:00 am just 3 days before the accident. Anger overcame me when I thought of how many people could have been affected by these peoples actions. The pink marker paint showed how the car had traveled the full length of my property on the dirt shoulder on the wrong side of the road. I thanked God that Dennis had arrived home 10 minutes before the accident. But now he sits in a lab being tested for HIV and hepatitis due to the cuts on his hands.
The newspaper said that Jennifer, age 37 was in critical condition and Ray, age 50 was in serious condition. They were not married to each other. I don't know whether these people lived or died, but I do know that nearly a dozen of my neighbors showed unconditional love to these people who had no regard to life and chose to get behind the wheel while intoxicated. I can only hope the unattended baby was safe and unharmed.
For me, it started with these three simple words…In the beginning. In the Book of Genesis, mankind was commanded to “rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all creatures that move along the ground.” With the early fall of man in the Garden of Eden, the killing and consumption of animal flesh became a necessity to survive. That’s a good enough reason for me to eat meat; plus the fact that nothing goes better with pancakes than of a pound of bacon while on my annual hunting trip.
Isaac, an irreplaceable founding father of the people of God, said in Genesis 27:3…“Now then, get your weapons—your quiver and bow—and go out to the open country to hunt some wild game for me. Prepare me the kind of tasty food I like…bring it to me to eat so that I may give you my blessing before I die.”
Mankind would never have survived to evolve without the consumption of meat. Early man didn’t spend their days on hands and knees tending a garden. They slaughtered animals to prevent becoming prey. They hunted game to eat, used the hides for protection against the harsh elements and harvested bone for tools. One could argue that in today’s world we no longer need those things to survive. But without the consumption of meat, domesticated stock would be virtually useless and overpopulate, affecting the survival of plants and organisms and seriously altering the earth’s natural balance which would affect the survival of mankind. It’s a vicious circle, a process that human’s are constantly interfering with, tipping the scale.
I strongly disagree with the common practices of unhealthy, cruel and inhuman methods of raising meat for higher profits, but I would also argue about the use of chemicals to raise fruits and vegetables. The human body requires a balanced diet with complete proteins to thrive in addition to quality vitamins and minerals. If humans hadn’t messed up the natural system by contaminating the Earth, we wouldn’t have to support the human body with synthetic additives to our food. We would actually get the vital nutrients naturally through our food.
Adam and Eve may have been created to live blissfully on fruits and vegetables in harmony with all the animals of the earth, but the second Eve convinced Adam to take a bite of the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, we instantly became carnivores by nature.
I find it more ethical to eat natural meat then I do to eat genetically engineered grains and foods that have been altered from their natural state. We live in such an immoral society today who’s actually qualified to judge what ethical even means?
I have always been one of those people that viewed the glass as half full but lately my vision has blurred. It's becoming more difficult to look at things in a positive manner. Every time I turn on the news something horrendous has occurred. And I can't handle another one of those abandoned and abused animal commercials with their big sad pleading eyes. I just want to bring them ALL home. Oh No! See what I mean?
I'm beginning to struggle to see the good in things and I'm usually allergic to negativity. Laughter is my drug of choice but lately I'm having difficulty getting my fix.
2012 is going to be a really big year. Some say the World is ending. It very well may be...when I think of all the happenings coming up in the near future, if we even have one, I'm not sure if I should roll with it or FREAK OUT! Here's what lies ahead in my future.
February 5th...I turn 50, yes, 50, a half century old.
Two weeks later I celebrate my 30th anniversary with my best friend and first husband.
In June...my one and only child graduates college, and speaks of moving 2000 miles away to New York City.
In August...my baby girl, turns 21. There are plans of a celebration in Vegas and talk of commemorative tattoos..."tiny and tasteful, a scripture verse" she says. I should get one too, a tiny, tasteful tattoo. Oh my! What am I thinking?
My hair is thinner, but my waistline is full.
My butt is bigger, but my bank account is not.
My eyesight is failing but still good enough to see my that my brows and eyelashes are nearly extinct.
My temples are turning grey more quickly looking less like "highlights" and more like Cruella DeVille. I have to color my hair more often.
My boobs are too big, a curse or a blessing? I'm not sure. It's a matter of perspective. Bras are too small. Apparently they don't make them in my size, as well as jeans that come up higher than a string bikini with legs long enough to touch the top of my shoes.
For the first time ever "Cramps" visit monthly but "Aunt Flo" has never left, "She could be with you for another five years," my doctor tells me. "Oh JOY!"
I'm pondering my future, if I have one. When I look at my water glass it sits half full, but my wine glass is half empty. I'm beginning to sound like Kathie Lee and Hoda of the Today Show. So what do you think? Should I freak out? Is it the end of the WORLD?
Just in case...will you buy my book A SACRED PLACE, Memoirs of a Female Hunter, so I can go out happy with a feeling of accomplishment?
A Sacred Place, Memoirs of a Female Hunter
_He sits there, peering into my window. He’s been there daily for a week now. Dressed only in a plain gray suit, he almost goes unnoticed. Although not much to look at, his presence is welcomed for the joyful song and dance he performs.
A Townsend’s Solitaire Thrush, according to my Field Guide to Western Birds. I’m not sure why he’s there, or how long he’ll stay, but I chuckle at his greeting each morning.
Time has passed so quickly. As I reflect I'm reminded of all the gifts I've received this year...
...my husband has continued to work in construction when many others have not had work.
...my Lord and Savior has provided us with a home that is paid for that can't easily be taken away from us. And heat to keep us warm.
...we have plentiful food on the table, not fancy, but nourishing.
...we have not been injured and no loved ones have died, with the exception of my 31 year old horse that I raised from birth and my cow dog injuring his leg trying to herd my mare yesterday. He hops on three legs and I pray it isn't broken but I am thankful for the ability to even have a dog.
...we have relatively good health. It doesn't mean we haven't had challenges but they only make us stronger.
...I have a fabulous loving family to surround me throughout the year.
...and I have the Love of Jesus Christ and the reassurance of His presence to walk by my side each day.
The days are getting colder, but the sun still shines. My little gray suited feathered friend continues to brighten my day with his presence. He may be gone tomorrow, but for today, I have his song and tomorrow I’ll have his memory. He reminds me to appreciate even the smallest blessings.
Hope your Holidays are filled with precious moments and memories to carry you through a lifetime.
_The morning was cold, 18 degrees when we rolled from the warmth of our beds. Dennis had loaded the truck the previous day in preparation of getting an early start, but after a frantic search for Michelle's misplaced Under Armour and Dennis' long johns, we left much later then we'd intended.
The sun began to rise along with the temperature as we arrived at the edge of the National forest. We headed up the ridge then turned off onto a narrow dirt road that cut through a draw. The terrain looked promising so we parked the truck and headed out in search of sign. Mom and my sister and her two children immediately started climbing, fanning out across the side of the ridge. Dennis, Michelle and I spread out at the base of the ridge. Side-hilling along the dry slope was difficult. My feet slide inside my boots making walking difficult and increasing my risk for an injury. Disappointed with my choice of footwear and disgusted with myself for wearing snow boots instead of my Danner hunting boots I headed back down to the flat at the edge of the road. Michelle soon joined me. The sun was high in the winter sky, I removed my hat and unzipped my heavy coat. It was too warm for December.
Michelle and I stood scanning the hillside across the draw. "I think we need to go look over there on that other ridge and look along the bottom in those thick trees," she said. I agreed and we stepped from the road and started the downhill decent. The grass was thick and tall. Good feed for elk, I thought as we slowly worked our way for the bottom. I stopped often to scan the hillside. Elk had recently been in the area. I noticed a track, then piles of fresh elk manure. I felt a tinge of excitement as we eased our way down the ridge. A stream trickled through the bottom. "Oh this is good, fresh water." Just as we stepped across the creek Michelle and I spotted it at the same time, standing in a cluster of fir trees. We froze knowing we needed to wait for Dennis. I motioned for him with the wave of my arm while Michelle and I held our position silently waiting for his arrival.
Dennis slipped in from below and downed our target with a single attempt. It was a successful winter harvest. Then we began the long difficult haul back across the creek and up the ridge towards the truck. The load was heavy but we eventually made it back to the truck. We promptly punched the tag and attached it. Then with the help of my sister and her kids we loaded it into the truck. It filled the back of her Dodge pickup and hung a foot over the downed tailgate. It's branches wear huge. It was by far the largest we'd ever tagged.
Once we got it home, we carried it into the house and stood it up in from of daddy's seven point bull elk mount, It was huge, the tip of it's branches went clear to the ceiling of our open beam home. "It's perfect," I said. "It's the perfect Christmas tree."
A Sacred Place, Memoirs of a Female Hunter
My daughter is a senior in college majoring in journalism at a big University. She is always telling me how she hates to write because she doesn't like the negative feedback she gets on her papers from certain professors. They are the ones that don't bother to point out the good things about her writing but go out of their way to be negative and tell her everything she did wrong. I understand that their job is to teach but often their comments are just their opinion and their approach often feels like a kick in the belly. They get an "F" in the "build me up" department. I try to support my daughter when she calls me in tears feeling like a failure. I give her the "it's just one persons opinion" speech. Over the years, I've given it many times. She has grown up showing horses and knows how it feels to be judged, so she is not thin skinned. You can preform a perfect pattern but if the judge likes paint horses better than appaloosas and you're on the appy, you probably won't win that class.
Writing, if grammatically done correct, is just a matter of personal opinion. True some writers have the ability to paint a more colorful picture and spice things up more than others, but that doesn't mean they are better writers. We all like different flavors, some like it hot and some do not and that's what makes us unique recipes.
Where I'm going with this is that I made one of those "kicked in the stomach" calls to my daughter today. I received a rejection letter for a short manuscript that I submitted two months ago. I have written articles over the years and submitted them to various publications. I have published several and been well paid for those pieces and I have gotten the dreaded "We're sorry but this doesn't meet our editorial needs at this time." I can handle those kind of rejection letters. They don't say I'm a lousy writer or my story looks like it was written by a first grader, it just says that they don't satisfy that publishers appetite at that time. But this one was different. I believe that the editor thought they were being helpful, but I didn't submit my manuscript asking for a grade or review.
I'm a self published author of a very personal book that I recently wrote called "A Sacred Place, Memoirs of a Female Hunter" . I didn't even try to submit this book to a publishing company, I just published with a print-on-demand company so I didn't have to deal with someone else telling me how to make it a better story. This book is my story not theirs. It's a true story and I tried to paint a descriptive picture to allow the reader to walk along beside me on my very personal journey and feel what I felt. The rejection letter I just received was for one of those personal stories. The letter started out by thanking me for submitting. The editor went on to say they found it a "pretty good read". Well there was the first little kick. Then they went on to say that they had received stronger better stories. Well that's OK, I can handle that. It's their choice to pick what they like. Then they ended with the "General Critique" (unsolicited of course). What is this, high school English class? I thought as I read the next sentence. "It stays a bit too much on the surface"...what ever that means, I thought. Another jab to the midsection. And now that I'm already in pain here it comes...wait for it..."you need to write from the heart." Wow the final kick in the gut to make me feel like I'm a loser and total failure. Wait a minute, this is my story, my emotions and my loss, how does this editor know how I felt and that I didn't write from my heart?
So I made the call to my college journalist daughter who gave me some very sound advice... "It's just their opinion Mom," she said. "That's why I don't like writing." She reminded me that I need to practice what I am always preaching to her. But it still kind of stings. But I guess I need to pick myself up and shake it off. I think I'll go bake some chocolate chip cookies. I like that flavor.
A Sacred Place, Memoirs of a Female Hunter
I am a self published author. In the publishing world the general public has been led to believe that self published author's work isn't any good or they would not have chosen the "vanity publishing" route. However many self published authors are proving that rumor false by becoming Best Selling authors, and they did it without the help of big publishing companies. I am one of 700,000 self published authors, true some will be poor writers but the odds are we aren't all bad. Just because we chose to self publish doesn't mean we tried traditional methods and failed. For me, I chose it because I'm a control freak and wanted things to be done my way. I will admit that I have struggled when it comes to marketing. Writing is my cup a tea, it's just talking with my hands, and I'm quite good at that. But marketing on the other hand is a whole new beverage for me. One that has a bitter taste. So I'm always on the lookout for a new flavor; guidance. My friend, who is an award winning, recently NYT Best Selling author I might add (not self published), sent me an email about a guy that has been very successful at self publishing. He too is a NYT Best Selling author as well as an Amazon Kindle Best Selling Author.
From that e-mail I purchased a book called, How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months, written by John Locke. In his book John shares his marketing plan on how he used social media to become a best selling author. He was however first a self made millionaire in the insurance business. And now a successful author. I'm just a housewife and a mom. I don't care about becoming a best selling author but I spent 6 years writing, and a lifetime creating, the stories that I've published in my book and I'd like to share them with more than a dozen of my closest relatives. OK, I'm exaggerating but not much. With the invention of e-readers, you can purchase books cheap. In this case, for the low price of $2.99, that's less then a fancy cup of coffee. For that price you can afford to spit out the bad ones and go to Starbucks. With all that aside, I had a point to make. It's the real reason I'm blogging today.
In John Locke's book How I Sold... he tells of a blog that he wrote in November of 2010, he said it "is the blog that changed my life." It is titled "Why I Love Joe Paterno and My Mom!" In that blog John talks about how his father died when he was only two and how his mother never remarried. She told him one day to find a role model to look up to, to choose a person of high character...and that "he will never let you down." When I read that, my heart sank. Oh no! I thought. When John wrote and published this book, publicly announcing his role model, a man he says he has loved for 44 years, he had no idea what the near future held. And now with the recent bad publicity and the firing of Joe Paterno from Penn State, I worried how it made John feel. I felt his pain. I have been disappointed by mankind. I have been guilty of putting people high up on a pedestal thinking they could do no wrong. But I since have learned that is "unfair" and I'm only setting myself up for disappointment. We all have and will fail at some point in our lives, more than once. I have learned that if I put my faith in mankind that they will ALWAYs let me down. It say in Hebrews 13:5 that God will never leave you or forsake you. And God will NEVER let you down. So as far as a role model goes, for me, I'm sticking with God because He is the ONLY ONE that will never disappoint me.
A Sacred Place, Memoirs of a Female Hunter
I've never shot a bow and arrow unless you count the toy bow made from a green willow branch and twine that my older sister and I made when playing cowboy and indian as children. We'd race around bareback on our horses pretending, however we both always wanted to be the indian, so she was Nez Perce on her appaloosa gelding and I was Cherokee on my pinto pony. I know that the term is politically incorrect and I don't mean to offend anyone. I come from a long line of native Americans from both sides of my family and respect all heritage. However we watched the great westerns of the times on television and modeled our play accordingly.
Like Native Americans, my family has hunted big game for food since before my birth. My mother was eight months pregnant with me during that hunting season. We rifle hunt, we always have. We have never archery hunted. I have a great respect for skilled archers. I know that one needs to be skilled to hunt properly with a rifle as well but I've always been impressed by people that are successful at bow hunting, especially harvesting bull elk. I have been in close proximity of large branched bulls during rifle season and believe me it's exciting, but the thought of bugling in a huge angry testosterone filled branched bull elk is not only thrilling but terrifying. I've heard stories where an agitated bull came within feet of the bugler. So close that the hunter felt the animals steamy breath as he snorted over the large log where the hunter swatted in retreat.
I've seen negative results from both, rifle and bow hunters, where animals where fatally wounded and lost. Sometime the result of a mistake or just bad luck, but often the result of an irresponsible hunter taking a shot that should have been passed upon or not bothering to go look after taking the shot, assuming that they missed when the animal didn't fall to immediate death.
Myself, I will probably never archery hunt, I'm too much a creature of habit. I enjoy the hunt. Walking through the thick timber and climbing steep terrain in hopes of stalking or flushing an animal. I have a difficult time sitting still. I feel like I'm missing something just over the next ridge and I have to go see. I lost an wounded animal once, my first year elk hunting...a mistake I vowed to never repeat. I have honed my rifle skills since that day 30 years ago. For that reason is why I'll never attempt to archery hunt. The fear of wounding an animal and the thought of it suffering and dieing of infection is more than I could personally bare.
A Sacred Place, Memoirs of a Female Hunter
November marks the two year anniversary of a great family tragedy. We won't dwell upon the date, we will however move forward with life leaving behind the darkness of that day. It is apart of who we are...who we have become. It's what we do with the defining experiences in life that matter. A dear friend and well known author, Jane Kirkpatrick, told me once that we all have a story. Each story is different, some are not as exciting as others to most but we ALL have a story. When I was writing my book A Sacred Place, Memoirs of a Female Hunter, I was writing it with the sole purpose of preserving my family traditions and a way of life that over the years is changing, like all things do. I wanted to document for my daughter and future grandchildren, the ways things were before I was too old to remember. So I wrote my story. Then I published my story. Others have read it and enjoyed it. Maybe others...not so much, I don't know I haven't heard. I am hopeful that my story may bring a smile to someone's face or spark a memory of their own, or they may learn something by walking along with me on my journey. It might be boring or uninteresting to some, but it's My Story. My sister is apart of my story but she also has one of her very own.
My sister's story from that November night is tragic, and dark and unpleasant. But it has an amazing ending, filled with faith and hope and love and a bright shining light which guides her. She is growing and flourishing from her experience and has turned away from the darkness and ran to the light. She will tell her story some day. She has young children and her main goal is their growth and development and happiness. They are doing very well today, due to God and my sister's nurturing. We talked on the phone yesterday while she was shopping. We discussed the need to tell her story some day when the time is right. She believes that she'll know when that time it. Immediately after ending our conversation, she walked past a sign with a road map and a compass and a phrase written at the top of the plaque, that said "The World is Waiting to Hear Your Story." She smiled and purchased the plaque to hang above her desk as a reminder. And when the time is right she will tell.
So...what's your story?
A Sacred Place, Memoirs of a Female Hunter
Sherrie Gant is a writer, photographer, and