A poem by
When the wilderness calls my name,
I am always ready to go after game.
It summoned me once again last night
And I was on my way by early light.
As I go to the mountains in the distance,
I know the weather will make a difference.
It will be cool up high and the sky is gray,
So the hunting should be very good today.
Prey that normally stay in hidden places
Will tend to be out in more open spaces.
That means less need for tedious tracking
And sneaking up by quiet bushwhacking.
It took a long time to learn and prepare.
Now I know what to do when I get there
To have my sounds and scent undetected
And make my presence quite unsuspected.
The most remote are my favorite spots.
I make my way and take lots of shots
In places I don’t let other hunters know,
And enforcement officers don’t like to go.
I like to take aim at the game to be found
Within map lines surrounding the ground
Of national parks and forests, plus various
Wildlife preserves and management areas.
Why buy a license? I see no good reason.
I just shoot them all like it’s open season.
It doesn’t matter a bit if the target selected
Is designated as endangered or protected.
In the better weather months, my scent
Does little to give away that I’m present.
Even so, I always try to reduce recognition
By moving ahead from a downwind position.
For three seasons, camo is easier to see,
So I go in colors like camel, tan and khaki.
My winter wear suppresses scent effectively,
Inside Mossy Oak Breakup or Seclusion 3-D.
While stalking in meadows, brush or pines,
I pay close attention to all the telltale signs.
Along with the different types of tracks I find,
I scrutinize the scat that has been left behind.
Texture and temperature show how old it is
By how moist and warm, or dry and cold it is.
Type, size and shape make for revealing reading.
Their menu is a clue to where they’re feeding.
It gives a gauge of the size and age of prey,
And helps show me if I’m going the right way.
I also gaze at places where game bed down
And know how long ago they’ve been around.
Sometimes we surprise one another suddenly,
But it’s better spying them before they see me.
That’s why I pause and use binoculars periodically
To slowly scan each span of terrain systematically.
I am ready to take a close-up shot in an instant,
As well as zero-in to get a target that is distant.
For shots across a valley to the opposite slope,
I carry a light tripod and shoot through a scope.
From each new expedition into the wilderness,
I learn more and advance my hunting prowess
But remain realistic and never predict success.
I rely on what I’ve shot to judge my progress.
The hit list also serves as a target inventory
That I use to pick and pursue my future quarry.
A lot have been crossed off but, now and then,
I choose to shoot the prey previously shot again.
With persistence, patience, and a little luck,
I get all kinds of deer, fawn, doe and buck.
It’s just a short trip to reach mountain goats,
And a bit more for wolves, foxes, and coyotes.
Other targets, too, are not all that far away.
They include eagles, hawks, grouse, osprey,
Bobcats, lynx, pumas, moose and wapitis,
As well as black bears and a few grizzlies.
Hunting for the meat holds no appeal at all,
And I don’t seek trophies to mount on a wall.
I do my shooting, leave the prey as they are,
And then just hike back to where I left the car.
At home, the rewards for my kind of shooter
Are digital images downloaded to computer.
I am content to watch my shots, frame by frame,
Until the wilderness once again calls my name.
[Inspired by Jesse Varnado, Wilderness Photographer
and nephew, September 2006]