By Ryan Connolly

It was well before sunrise and I was high in the canopy getting  seasick from too much breeze and too little tree.For once, I left the mounds of gear in the car.

The tree, bow and  arrows, water and a Hershey bar would be more than enough.

The sun rose in grand fashion.  The woods came alive.

The grey-squirrels made the fall leaves a slip-n-slide and were everywhere.

The birds were up and singing.

It was woodland finery on all sides.

The wind calmed and my tree  stood still. I looked down the lane and she was there.  A ghost.  She was 100 yards  up wind.  I thought she’d be gone, the way she came.  But she stayed.   It wasn’t long until she was broadside at 25 yards where she waited.

She waited for a lifetime.   She waited for the shakes and they came. For me to bump an arrow from the rest and I did.  To re-knock.  To  study her.  To wonder if I was ready.  If I could.  She scratched a  hoof at a pesky tick.  Shook her head.  Flickered those big ears. She  was magnificent.

I thought about my life and others that needed her for energy, inspiration and strength.  She was patient and waited.

I drew back.  With the hand of something better guiding me I released.  She lied down.  Confused but easy.  The shot was good.  I  gave her the mercy of another arrow.  It was true and she died.

I climbed down and knelt and touched her.  She was a ghost again.  I  thanked her and the sun and the tree and all the rest.  I opened her  with my knife and left her insides for other lives.  I carried her out  and took her to Hunters Helping the Hungry.  In that way she was honored.  The circle of life ever closing.

I got back into the car and drove the 65 miles home to a city where the mysteries are few and the ghosts are all gone.  I’ve been thinking  about her most of the time since and that’s more than enough.