The Buck

I walk through the predawn twilight
towards an old pin oak tree, squirrel gun in hand.
Cat squirrels dance through my head in anticipation
of this morning's hunt. The borrowed pistol at my hip,
an afterthought- just in case.

As I settle in at the base of the oak,
I begin to stretch my senses: the rich organic smell
of this east Texas loam, the rhythmic song of a hermit thrush,
the cries of blue jays in the distance,
and a cardinal whistling to greet the dawn.

I memorize every leaf and branch and my awareness
awaits the first flick of a bushy tail. And just for a second,
I wonder, "Perhaps I'll see a deer this day?"
I shrug aside the thought, but loosen the pistol
in its holster - just in case.

And then, there he is, the buck.
Walking steadily towards me.
He's big, but I have no time for thought,
only to act.
I raise the pistol, fire, and miss!

He jumps back in the brush,
searching for danger.
I think all is lost,
but continue to focus -
if I can just get one more shot!

At the base of my tree, I am still.
Back in the brush, the buck looks around,
but cannot find me.
Then he walks up the rise to my right.
I shift my position, and take my shot.

As the buck falls, I stand.
I walk the forty yards, pistol in hand.
My elation builds, and I throw back my head with a whoop.
I finally begin to shake, and realize that this morning,
at dawn's first light, I've had a dream fulfilled.


by Troy Hibbitts, February 1997