hunters

‪Unseasonably warm. The sun catches on glass disinterred by frost heaving. From the valley, the cheerful pops of a semi-automatic rifle.‬

The morning after the end of deer season and an inch and a half of new snow covers the evidence—the gut piles, the trails of blood and hair.

A pileated woodpecker trepanning an oak to extract its harmful inhabitants the ants. Distant shots from deer hunters at a similar task.

Bright sun. From the valley, four gunshots in quick succession, followed by silence. A phoebe circles the house singing, as if sizing me up.

This isn’t how Hollywood would’ve scripted the deer season opener: flat light with no hint of shadow. Shots don’t ring out—they merely thud.

From the east, the pop-pop-pop of a rifle being sighted in for deer season. From the west, the roar of Black Friday traffic. Hunters, all.