Oak leaves that turned brown just a few days ago already rattle instead of rustling. A hunter in gray camouflage emerges from the woods.
A great silence punctuated only by an occasional gun shot. A squirrel digs up a black walnut from beside the porch and bounds off with it.
Bright sun, cold wind. The blaze-orange vests of two hunters walking up the road: a father and his daughter who’s just shot her first deer.
Cloudy and cold. The quiet tapping of a downy woodpecker. A deer hunter appears, his bloody quarry sliding behind him on the fallen leaves.
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.
The sun is a bright nipple in milk-white clouds. On the ground, a new, thin fur—what deer hunters like to call a good tracking snow.
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.