The Zen of Moose
Haines moose hunting is 90% watching, waiting, luck and thinking about stuff you don't usually have time for-- and 10% everything else, like the shooting part-- so you don't have to worry about wearing orange when you walk in the woods. Hunters here do not shoot at anything that moves. A person has to be mighty close to a very large, often agitated animal to measure the antler spread (50 inches or more) or count the brow antler tines ( 3 on one side) or be sure that's a fork or spike and not a broken antler, that after a week of significant effort only 9 have been turned in, and one was not legal. It was a huge bull, I hear, but his antlers were not quite 50 inches. For me, and I suspect for my husband, though he doesn't say so, moose hunting is both a meditation and escape. We are, after all, doing something-- we are hunting-- yet at the same time we are bailing out of everyday obligations and patterns. We are away from cell phones and electricity, and we are very quiet, we whisper mostly, or don't speak at all, but communicate in a way that is better than we sometimes do at home. We are, as my yoga friends say, present. In this, hunters and yogis have much in common. I like the anticipation and slight terror of tip-toeing through the dawn woods and then climbing up into the relative safety of a tree stand, and settling in for a couple of hours of silence. After a half hour a wood pecker can make me jump. But I also wanted to tell you that when we came to town Thursday, our son the fisherman surprised even more with a weekend visit home, his first since last fall, and there was much joy all the way around. I am doing my best to remember the lessons of hunting and the special yoga-for-peace practice Friday evening-- (lucky we came home) -- mostly to be present. Soak it all in, the meals, the family, the rain, rain, rain-- we could have another record month at this rate, making four in a row-- and especially the fine young man stretched out on the couch watching the ball game with his dad before he catches the ferry tonight back to work on the seiner docked in Petersburg. Although as much as I would like to, I cannot sit and stare at him the way I do the woods for moose. That would be too creepy, we all agree, and he would never come back.