This is sort of a morbid subject, but its in my head this morning, maybe its because its hallowen morning, so I want to get it out.
When I was young, about 13 or 14 years old, this friend of mine showed me this tape called "faces of death". It was really a horrific program. I would shut it off and refuse to participate now, but then I just watched it in morbid curiosity.
The tape depicted various deaths or horrific scenes. One guy missed his parachute sunt into a pit of hungry alagators, various be headings and dismemberments in Muslim countries and a few other things.
After all these years one thing remaines in my memory. It's the look on these people's faces knowing they were about to face death. I never put the title of the video into context until just moments ago. I remember in particular a group of men that was being hearded and whipped by Soddom Hussains men. They were being executed one by one only the video only showed them waiting. It was their eyes. The way they moved that stuck with me. There was no resolve. No escape. No miricle was going to unfold to help them. I could see the hopeless desperation. I did not.... I still don't know how human beings can do these things to each other. It has stayed with me and scarred me my entire life.
Then one day I was bow hunting. I had scouted this animal all summer. I knew its habits. I knew any given morning there was a 20% chance he would graze out into this swampy meadow high in the Sierra Nevada wilderness. I waited. It only took a few days. I had planned for seven to ensure a shot at my quarry, but he came early. I was hidden in a thicket of Willows, my cloths decented with the smoke from the morning fire.
He came out. I tried to relax. I kept my gaze slightly down and to the right. I don't care what any skeptic or empiri nazi tells you. Animals can tell when you are looking at them even if they are unaware of your presence. I have seen it dozens of times.
He was comeing in the meadow on the trail that he usually leaves from. It was going to make my shot much harder. 45 yards through a narrow gap in the willows. I thought briefly about not taking the shot. I knew I was skilled enough to make the kill but I was worried about how clean it would be. I do not accept anything other than a lung shot. If was using my compound bow with sights it would have been a simple choice, but my recurve is a little more finicky and my groups not as tight.
It was now or never, months of scouting, hours of driving, days of hiking, years of practice, and much fanagling with business and family were on the line. I drew and real eased nearly instantly with a classic sight shot.
Damn!!! To low. I got him in the gut. I had not practiced enough from a kneeling position and I was used to shooting from a standing position with a proper stance. Impossible in the willows.
I sat back and waited. If I came out now, he would take off across country and I would have injured him for nothing and he would die a very slow and agonizing death. I knew he would run for 50 - 100 yards before stopping and resting from his wound. If he saw me he may run for miles. I waited.
When I thought enough time had passéd and he would be significantly weakened, I came out of hiding and took my shoes off. I can move much more quietly in my large soft socks. I found the blod trail and started to track him down. He had only gone about 50 yards. He had collapsed on his side but was still alive. He was writhing. I hated the fact that my ill preparations had now put this beautiful creature in so much pain. I lost all critical thinking of what might happen if be still had strength left. I droped my bow because with him on his side all i was foing to get is another gut shot. i unsheathed my hunting knife and with out a thought ran up to him grabbed his antlers and slit his throat.
He saw me, but was to weak to run or fight. We made eye contact. It was his eyes. They were the same as the men on those videos. That look. That roll and stair. I can't escape it. This animal is conscious of what I am there to do. It knows I am a killer.
I sat with my back to him after the deed. I cut deep to ensure quick unconsciousness. Cerated edges are good for that. I finished my prayer of thanks as little river of blood started passed me.
I had never had to do that before. All my prior kills were well placed lung shots and the animals were dead when i got to them. This was very up close and personal. But the eyes haunt me. Just as the eyes of those doomed men. The blood.... The gore.... Is nothing. It's two conscious beings connecting with each others eyes and one will be no more. Two beings faceing death. Just like the title of that video. It had so many meanings to me. The faces of death, the face of the men faceing death, faceing death itself, looking death in the face. The desperate eyes of those to be killed.
I almost weeped, but I had to keep it together, there was another job to do and the flies would be comeing.
I have thought of giving up bow hunting after that. But when I sit down for dinner with my kids and my wife feeds them chicken, pork chops, or beef. I realize the dishonesty in consuming that animal without faceing it. Even shooting the poor thing from 50 yards out and never haveing to look into its face is dishonest. It might be a morbid ugly thing. But I vow every time I see one of my boys eating a burger that I will one day teach them what that burger really means. Mabey like me they will then steam a lot more vegetables and prey in thanks and sadness every time they consume another conscious animal. Maby they will look at the suffering of others more compassionately.
I do prey god will guide me to the right lessons for my children.