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.
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.
Overcast. Two ravens glide along the ridge, circle back and land in the treetops. A hunter in gray forest camouflage emerges from the woods.