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Thread: theHunter: Call of the Wild - What's this? A Let's Play?

  1. #1
    Mrenda's Avatar
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    theHunter: Call of the Wild - What's this? A Let's Play?

    I know FHC isnít normally one for Letís Plays, narrative, screenshot, video or otherwise. But Iím writing this up anyway so I thought Iíd give it a go on here.



    theHunter: Call of the Wild

    theHunter: Call of the Wild, imaginatively and uniquely titled, is what you might guess; a hunting game. That should, if you know nothing else, be where your guessing stops.

    theHunter is not a big hoo-rah game of being a big ballsy bastard, speeding around, blowing the crap out of animals. Unless you set out to deliberately break the game it is a rather chilled and serene experience. If you do set out to break the game you can rack up kills quickly and easily (or at least you could, according to some.) That, however, is against the spirit of the game, and youíre only cheating yourself, because if you play within the spirit of the game theHunter is a beautiful experience, visually impressive and mentally relaxing, about tracking through a huge open map where you will, after a challenge, find an animal worthy of your hunt.



    Some people have described theHunter as a walking simulator. And you will do a lot of walking, as well as crouching and crawling. This isnít a problem. The maps included with the base game are stunning examples of slices of a world thatís interesting and a joy to be in.

    The animals you shoot are a way of offering purpose and keeping score in a game thatís about slowing down and experiencing whatís around you. You wonít die. You wonít lose. Youíll continue on for as long as you like.

    The Mechanics

    The basic mechanics are you shoot an animal. To shoot an animal you have to find an animal. To find an animal you follow their tracks (often for a very long period of time, sometimes frustratingly in circles,) you listen for their calls, or you learn through exploration where their feeding, watering and resting grounds are.

    As you play you earn cash from harvesting animals and XP from successful kills. This allows you to purchase better weapons that better suit your play-style and for taking down more difficult prey, and better equipment to give you more of an advantage. The XP allows you level up skills that allow you to track better, shoot better, and learn more about what youíre following.

    There are missions, but theyíre very loose. At most theyíre encouragement to explore the map and widen your range.

    As with most ďwalking simulatorsĒ a big part of the game is itís very much what you make of the experience. Itís possible to kill some animals (once youíve figured things out) quite easily. However, to get bigger, more unique, higher score animals youíll need to really work on your tracking, your knowledge and your patience, and have some luck. But thatís not that point, not really. Itís very much about the journey. Spending one hour at the beginning of the game tracking an animal as youíre starting out can be just as rewarding as finding a rare animal late in the game (not that Iíve ever got that far.) Everything along the way has meaning for you, because itís your doing, in a beautiful world, with your skills and determination.

    The Narrative LP
    I like writing and creating and Iím not a big fan of games telling me what to think. I like games that are rich and deep enough that you create the moments of importance yourself, not because itís written that way, but because of the effort you put in, where your triumphs and successes are your own. I suggest you buy and play the game to get that experience because I will be creating the moments of importance writing this as a narrative LP from the perspective of the character in the game, with her own backstory, thoughts, issues and hopes informing what she, as the narrator, says in the LP.



    Do come along for the journey with your star, Eimear Fudd.

  2. #2
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    Chapter 1

    Dear diary,

    Thatís a joke, you see? Growing up I was convinced you read my diary. You always seemed to just know. Really I should say, ďDear Granda.Ē

    Even if I said, ďDear Granda,Ē this wonít be written to please you. I know you always said I have a talent for putting words together but equally you said I should include more car chases and shoot-outs. Thatís what all your buddies want to read. Thatís what you want to read. Car chases sell, Eimear! Adventure, excitement, guns! Well now Iím in Germany, the one place you said you never mastered, and I have a backpack stuffed with all the gear you taught me to use. It will be an adventure, and Iíll show you I am fully capable of all the things you say I gave up on. And more.

    This will be a story for you. Itíll be a story for all your hunting pals. Itíll be a story for Conni, the ďWildhŁterĒ of Hirschfelden. But it will be told as I see fit.



    I donít know if you ever met Conni but she was on the radio to me the second I got within the limits of the hunting reserve. Maybe itís my situation coming through, what Iíve been through these past few years, my failure, but again it seemed just like you were reading my diary and youíre still the one in control. Youíd set this all up. You knew I was coming, you readied the reserve and Conni for me, you said, ďLetís see how badly she letís me down, as always. Letís see how she ignores me and fucks up again,Ē and you were ready to pull one over me.

    This isnít to gripe, not at you, weíre long past that. I went my own way. And thatís something weíre past too. You know full well my dreams didnít work out for me and you didnít say a thing. Well, now Iím going to try what worked for you. Iím doing the things that make you tick. As I said, Iím not griping, but maybe there is a bit of bitterness.

    Conni was onto me within seconds of my arriving. On the radio, phone, HunterMate, whatever you want to call it. A simple start, with a little bit of help from her.



    ó Locate a track
    ó Shoot an animal
    ó Harvest an animal

    As if it was that simple.

    The first thing I had to do was find a vantage point. Maps are great but if you canít situate yourself in relation to the lay of the land, or even just landmarks, a mapís not going to do you much good. Luckily, just a few hundred meters ahead of me was a nice lookout point. Itíd be perfect spot for me to climb to the top of, look out, then realise that what Iím doing is entirely fucking stupid and I have nothing to prove to you.



    So that was the plan. Climb that little tower and realise this is all bullshit.

    Of course you fucked that up. As you always do.

    You see the little dip in front of me, right in that picture? I get to it and what do I see but the smallest little deer, standing right in my way. I canít give up, can I? I canít just let it go. No! Iím already feeling defeated by a miserable, rainy, foggy day and you make my first kill the easiest thing on the fucking planet.



    I didnít even think of getting my camera out, or my binoculars. There was no point. The stupid thing was standing, waiting, as if I was Abraham, the deer Isaac, and you were the god, but one who would never save anything or anyone from the slaughter. You expected me to do this. You put the deer there. And what Iím doing now is a test of my faith in you. Iíve lost faith in myself, and for a long time you and Granny were all I had. Now, like Iím seven again and you know everything about me, I have to find faith in you. This is why Iím here. I have to find something. Youíre the last part of me thatís good.



    There. I did it. Iím doing what youíve always asked of me. Not killing, no. Using my skills. Listening to you.

    Except this was too easy. This isnít what you want to show me. This was the stage being set. The question being asked. Now, every time I bag a kill Iíll doubt it. ĒThat one doesnít count. It wasnít a true challenge. A real challenge...Ē Every time I think Iíve proven myself to you Iíll think back to this, my first ever kill, and just like this one I know it wonít have proven anything. It wasnít a proper test.

    Thatís why Iím writing this, I guess. Itís the process, isnít it? Maybe Iíll learn and find a way to be aware of what it is Iíve learned, over time, and maybe youíll learn that Iím not idling but I am constantly, fucking constantly striving.

    So I go on.

    After I harvest the deer (it was fucking tiny, innocent, but you donít care,) I continue with my plan to hit the lookout tower. Youíve trapped me.



    I donít know what I was thinking at the top of the tower. I donít know if I was thinking. I read the little information sign at the top, favorite region, fallow deer, history, etc. but it was in one ear and out the other. I took this picture, almost on autopilot. Pretty view, take a picture, memories to cherish, and itís only after looking back at it now, a few hours later, I realise how oblivious I was.



    I kept walking, right into that forest. All those trees. Except it didnít even occur to me, ďEimear, thereís a lot of fucking trees!Ē I thought Iíd spot an animal, far enough away that I donít spook it, then kablammo! Itís dead. Iím done.

    No. It didnít occur to me that this would actually be difficult. That if Iíd spent more than ten seconds going through the most basic of performative actions Iíd realise this wasnít just a view for a picture, but something that would ready me for what was to come.

    I did keep in mind that I was walking into the wind so my scent was being blown behind me not to alert any animals. Iím not completely stupid. Maybe I had no choice but to walk into the forest? I just wasnít aware.

    I was no sooner back down the tower when Conni, the WildhŁter, was onto me again. Telling me about the tracks sheíd seen earlier that day and how I could follow them. I had to think back to all you taught me, knowing itíd take practice, practical experience, to remember what Iíd forgotten, and even learn the things you couldnít beat into my thick skull.



    I tried to remember how you told me to follow the footprints, the general direction of the animal, and to gauge whether theyíre sprinting, walking or anything in between.



    Off I went, following the trail of what I think were some deer.

    It wasnít two minutes before I got into the real nitty gritty of what it means to be a hunter: poo. There was some deer shit right in front of me which of course meant it was time to get my hands dirty (this is a figure of speech. I did not touch the poo.)



    The crap was ancient. This was you pulling the strings again. Set me up for an easy kill, get someone to do your bidding and set me up with easy tracks, set me along a path, and then fuck me over with some old shite. I could be tracking that deer for a day, going in circles, never finding it. But youíre not going to get me that way. Iíd spotted a little camp while I was walking and decided to check that out before heading deeper into where the animals might be. I wasnít going to follow your tracks.



    It was a pretty little red hut, somewhere to sleep and restock if I need it, looking after myself being very much important, ignoring your rubbish almost as important. And what do you know, from ignoring the kind of psychic bullshit you pull? I heard an animal right close by. A red fox screeching.



    Off I go. I follow the direction of its cries, into the wooded area. Iím down low, creeping along, just waiting to get to some high ground so I can see far enough to get a shot. This is when my troubles begin. I keep inching forward, always getting to the next little rise, and thereís always more in my way.



    Itís occurring to me this might not be as easy as I thought it would be. Iíll never get a clear view, into the distance, with my sights straight on something. At best Iíll have a bit of a gap, hopefully with me downwind of what I think might be out there, and I have to bring the animal in close.

    It was into my bag I went and out with the caller. This one makes a sound like an injured jackrabbit, hopefully well enough that itíll bring a predator like the red fox in for what it thinks is an easy meal.



    I had my little bit of a gap in front of me, my binoculars at the ready for spotting, my choice of rifle, shotgun or pistol ready to hit the little bastard with, and I start blowing on this ridiculous piece of wood that somehow mimics an injured animal.



    I blow and I blow and I blow. Then I remember something, youíre not supposed to shoot tiny animals with big guns or big animals with tiny guns. I have no idea what gun Iíll shoot this fox with. I donít think I can get him in close enough for the pistol or shotgun, and if I could the shotgun would destroy him, while the pistol seems like Iíd need a perfect shot. The rifle has the scope but if your buddies taking my kills out of the reserve see Iíve blown open a tiny fox with an oversized rifle theyíll laugh me out of it. I wonít have shown anything, proven anything, or found anything in myself other than Iím completely unprepared for this.

    I should probably check up on all this, there is phone signal here, but instead Iím blowing on that caller and as I go on and on, determined to show I can do more than kill the deer you gifted to me, I realise nothingís coming. Iíve ruined my chance all with my own initiative. Story of my life.

    Eventually, I give up. I decide itís back to the basics, and if you really are pulling the cosmic strings, Iíd better do what Conni says and find some tracks to follow.

    Part of all this is recovery for me. Something to set my head straight. Iíve tried so many different things that didnít work I might as well try your way. I justified it in small ways to myself, as well. I liked being out on hunts with you even if I didnít want to shoot anything. I liked the peace, quiet and nature. I thought Iíd find that here, at the least. I didnít.



    There are birds screeching flying overhead. Thereís what seems like a thrum to the air around me. Thereís my big stupid feet making far too much noise. As Iím walking and walking, thinking this is not at all what I expected, or wanted, I come across a fucking road. It was engines Iíve been hearing. That really showed me. Iím not away from it all, Iím not in the wilderness, my phone signal should have confirmed all that. But then it does go quiet, eerily, and I feel like an eejit all over again as thereís an opening and closing of noise and silence and I canít find any comfort in where I am.

    Iím beginning to realise I really have no clue what Iím about, what Iím doing, and I have to keep going. For the first time since I arrived here my thoughts arenít with you, about what you do to me, but about what I can do for myself.

    I keep on going. Just keep on fucking going, and I find nothing. I see no tracks, I hear no animals. I do see a big rocky hill, and checking my map I realise thereís another watchtower on it.



    As I get closer I see the hill is more of a bastard than a hill, and really a mini mountain. Still, I try to find my way up. I scramble up what looks like climbable terrain, only to get so far I come to unclimbable terrain. I keep circling around passages I canít make it up before I look at the map again. Thereís a path leading up to it, but itíd mean going a long way out of my way. Which is when Conni messages me again. Apparently she also saw tracks around here.



    I have no idea how fresh they are but theyíre for a red fox. I figure I heard a red fox earlier, so maybe all this is some kind of sign from a trickster god.

    I keep following them.



    Itís definitely a trickster if Iím expected to follow him up the mountain I couldnít get up before, taking me further and further in a loop, eventually leading me to a realisation Iím fecking useless.



    Which I am. I am fecking useless. You might not be able to see, the pictures are all low resolution if Iím going to back them up on the cloud from a forest wireless signalóalbeit far from from 4Góbut it is there in all its pixelated glory, an orange blurry bastard running past me just below that pine straight ahead. I didnít hear it or see it, I had no clue it was there until it had me well sussed out and was sprinting away from me.

    In that instant I didnít know whether to say fuck it and throw in the towel, to go for a rest and a smoke in one of the sleeping areas, and type this up for you, or to be boneheaded and keep chasing after it. I decided to continue on after it. Except it wasnít boneheadedness, it was something small beginning to form.



    I followed its tracks, and when the damage of its trail showed it had slowed from a run, to a trot, to a walk, out came my caller. There was a clear area just ahead of me, the wind was in front of me, and I was crouched down. If the fox got curious, popped up and stayed still for just a few moments I could better it.

    It didnít pop up.

    That didnít stop me.

    I inched forward.



    Then I saw what you see. Or some version of what you see. What you saw when you did stuff like this. It isnít beers with the boys, it isnít shooting or killing, itís not even the chase, although it is some kind of chase. Itís chasing this view.

    Things being picturesque isnít what I mean but rather some kind of beauty, something real and true, and solely yours, the moment thatís only yours. Iíd been so thoroughly beaten by the fox, then picked myself up, then focused on finding it again that I didnít see what was coming. When I realised what was before me I just stopped. When I finally saw what was out there: it was all of it. It was a bit of sense to the world where I wasnít worried about anything. I wasnít cursing you for tricking me. I wasnít trying to best anyone. I was simply doing my thing, and I had to keep doing my thing if I wanted more moments like this: the world opening up for me.

    The view isnít important, my realisation wasnít important. Spirituality sounds like absolute bollocks so I wonít say that. It isnít even spiritual. Itís human.

    I didnít know at that point if I would catch the fox or not. I just knew all I was doing represented continuing on for something like this event to happen again.



    I was back in the brush.

    You were running from me.

    It really was just you and me.



    You were heading towards the trees.

    I didnít care about making a trophy of you, at that point. I wasnít really thinking about a kill. It was just a story that didnít really need to be told. I was creating, for me, out of all of this. I still havenít quite got around to how I justify shooting you. Ending your life. My Granda shot animals, his friends shot animals, I was there while he shot some of the animals, I ate some of the animals, some of the animals are mounted in his lodge. I donít think about it, at best. Thatís my superiority. I am hunting you. I get to kill you. I do know it doesnít feel unjust. If I think about it I think of what my former friends would say, what other people would say, other humans. ďWhat would people think?Ē You just keep trotting away from me. You and me just are, just is. I donít know what it is. I know Iím not making sense, maybe thatís what I have to figure out. Thereís more to this.

    We were among the trees and I was following your tracks. I went into the woods. I went, what felt like, went into you.

    I heard the bleat of a deer. A bleating from nearby. I could ignore it and keep following you, but youíre a speedy bastard.

    I didnít quite give up on you, I just took a moment. I moved maybe fifty feet from the last of your tracks Iíd spotted. I had my deer caller out and was going at it. I could always go back to you but this seemed like a confluence of moments.

    I called a few more times on the deer lure. There was no real ledge, no vantage point to spot a herd, no clear ground to get a shot across. Still, a doe, without me realising, had walked close to the right of me.



    It was as innocent looking as the deer Iíd shot just those few hours before but this seemed more honest. This wasnít a gift to me, by my Granda delivering through some scheme, this was my own. This was my doing. My making.

    I tracked the deer from behind some bushes into a little space next to a tree. I wasnít certain on my shot, but I still took it.

    As I walked to where the deer was, to find her blood trail to begin tracking my bleeding quarry, I didnít know how far this would take me. My first real shoot.

    I hoped I didnít merely wound it. I feared it would continue on for days or weeks, with me never finding it, in pain. That I would never find my results.

    Walking up to where it stood I saw the body in the ground. It had dropped instantly. The shot I wasnít sure on must have been perfect.



    Now itís getting dark, and Iím writing this up, to you. I donít even know who the you Iím addressing is any more. It started off with you, Granda. There was a bit of me in that you and some of your buddies too. Then in my hunt, there was frustration, annoyance, a steadiness growing. Then there was you the fox who brought me so much even if youíre now so far away. There was the you of serendipity in the doe appearing. There was the mostly-chance of my shot being true.

    Now, Iím addressing all the yous, but especially you, Granda. I donít know what your game is. I donít know what you want from me or want for me. I do know, for a while, there was just me in existence. Purely, solely me, with all of you not mattering. Iím not sure if hunting is yet something Iím comfortable with, all I know is it has given me something I didnít have. You could never give it to me, but you could help me get some way there.

    Iíll rest, for now, then Iíll continue on.

  3. #3
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    Chapter 2

    Sleep is important. I always had trouble sleeping when I was doing my thing, sliding into that hole, getting worse and worse. As darkness was setting in I wondered what sleep would be like out here as I made my way back to the little red hut I found.

    Thereíd be nothing to block out my thoughts. No podcast to play as a distraction as I tried to shut down, or maybe, more accurately, block out my mind. I didnít want to bring a phone full of audiobooks with me, or videos: you never had that when you hunted. It isnít the point of what Iím doing. I have to take this seriously.

    The little red hut was clean, the bed actually quite comfortable. I could imagine meeting another person here, us both contented in ourselves, making small talk but not small talk like things that donít matter, making noise for noiseís sake, but small in the realisation that most things, especially the important things, are minor.



    It was early enough, not my 2am desperate-to-just-rest, somehow, please, just sleep. This was well before 9pm, dark but ridiculously early. I fell asleep easily. I think I remember the idea of beauty in challenge going through my mind, recalling the images I saw earlier that day, imagining what beauty Iíd find the day after.

    I set my alarm for 6am, waking as peacefully as Iíd nodded off. Iíd made some credits for the services in the reserve with my harvests the day before, and proved I was capable of using what I wanted to buy, so I bought some polymer-tip bullets for my rifle. I knew I got lucky the day before. The animals were small, young, stupid, whatever. They came right up to me. Iíd had easy shots. The soft-points I was using took them down instantly, but if I hadnít hit a vital organ, or if the bullet was on line for a vital organ but hit bone first, the soft-points would shatter, wounding rather than killing. The animal would die, but it could take hours, and I might lose their trail. The polymer means more penetration, probably through bone, and with bigger animals they should make it into their core.



    Some of the info on the box also told me these bullets were fine for the red foxes. That settled my quandary from the day before over whether I could use the rifle, or should use the pistol, however difficult that may be: the rifle is fine.



    Conni wanted me to find a lookout tower. Iíd already been to one but that was so close by to where I arrived Iím not sure she counted it. Iíd been near one the day before, right where I got my kill, but I was on the wrong side of the hill, then I was a little turned around and didnít know where I was, then it was getting dark. This time I was going to follow the road, then the path, and get to where I couldnít before. Sometimes the long but easy to follow route is the best. I donít need to be a commando.

    I think part of all this, the not-hunting, but exploringójust walkingówas that I was a bit apprehensive starting the day. Yesterday had been difficult. Iíd tracked, badly, Iíd made efforts, and failed, then I continued, just kept going and found some success. My work paid off.

    My apprehension was that I had a full twelve hours of light making me think, A.) I wasnít sure if I could manage such effort for twelve hours, and B.) I didnít know if Iíd get the same payoff. Yesterday really was special.



    With that in mind I decided not to hunt. I would just follow along the road. I would do my little bit of exploring. I would satisfy Conni. I would build into my day, with some low stress, low energy simplicity.

    Of course nothing is that simple.

    Before I knew it I was looking at a roe deer standing right in the open, a hundred or so meters ahead of me on the road. I hadnít planned on hunting anything, I was set on going to the lookout tower and seeing what was around this area. But when a deer is standing right in your path, and youíve spent half your day before desperately tracking animals to little avail, you take these opportunities when they crop up.



    So I shot. I knew it was a bad shot. I knew I wasnít in the right frame of mind. I walked to the spot the deer was in when I hit it, and there was the blood splatter on the ground. It was the polymer bullet that saved me, I knew, when I saw such a significant amount of bleeding. My hastiness wouldnít cause excess cruelty.



    This was all confirmed when I found the deerís body. It was an intestine shot. The hollow point might have done damage, it probably would have killed it, but if I made another shot like this, out of pure opportunity and not consideration Iíd end up with an unhappy result, especially with a bigger animal.



    That kill, tracking the shot deer, lead me towards a ledge. It was above what appeared to be a river, something I knew presented the opportunity to find a drinking ground, somewhere I could return to once Iíd figured out the animalís cycle.

    I wouldnít know what animal drank there until I got closer and examined the markings and impressions the drinking animals left, but as I approached I heard vocalization. And it was loud. It was definitely a bigger animal than Iíd seen until that point, probably a red deer. I crept up to the outcrop and spotted maybe fifty meters beneath me a fine looking buck. The wind was behind me, blowing my scent towards him. I had to take my shot. Thinking about how Iíd been hasty before I was worried, but the animal was standing perfectly side-on to me, presenting his boiler room even if there were a few leaves hanging between us.

    I didnít want to waste this opportunity. Previously Iíd been rushed, taking a shot I was fortunate to get away with, but with my rifle already out this seemed all right. I fired.

    The animal startled, but didnít move. For a moment it stood stock still. Then a smaller, female deer bolted, then the animal I was certain Iíd hit ran, then, from all around me I heard hooves. It seemed there were deer throughout the forest, even closer than the deer Iíd just shot. I didnít see any of them as they fled from the crack of the bullet.



    When I got to the blood splatter my heart dropped. I was certain of this shot. Absolutely certain of it. But the blood the deer left behind didnít lie. It was bleeding at a very slow rate.

    My morning was not shaping up well. Iíd set out not to hunt but to explore, then I took a stupidly planned shot I happened to luck out with, thankfully. Now Iíd taken what I was sure was a good shot that turned out to be actually a shite hit, casting doubt over my own ability to judge anything. At that point I wondered if Iíd be tracking this deer, my hardest quarry so far, for hours, to get another shot so it doesnít spend weeks bleeding-out slowly.

    My initial bit of tracking went fine. I was in an area with a lot of brush and the trail was easy to follow.



    I was setting myself to my task, gearing up for an arduous hunt, when I saw who Iíd shot, lying, unmoving, a few feet in front of me. I was tilted. I didnít know what to make of anything any more. The day before Iíd worked, strived, tried to make sense of what I was doing and it came good. All Iíd done since waking was make mistake after mistake, shadowing what Iíd discovered in doubt. I was flowing with pure chance, keeping me good for the moment, but this would surely run against me at some point.

    I couldnít set my mind straight. My easy walk along a road had led me to two easy kills that I really didnít deserve after ill-judged action.

    I went back to the road.

    The thing with stupid mistakes, at least for me, is that noticing them doesnít necessarily stop them. If Iíve started a slide into idiocy, heart racing, I get a little worked up. Iím telling myself things, talking to myself, just demanding I sort myself out. Thatís not the best state to be in when youíre trying to address issues. You need clarity, time, and, yes, willpower to halt your fall. A big idiot brain yelling at itself does not afford such things.



    Thatís why, when I saw the fox, two thoughts went through my mind. ďDonít shoot the blood foxy!Ē and ďYouíve not got a fox yet! SHOOT!Ē Youíve seen enough of how the morning has gone so far to figure out what happened next.



    Which is why, 45 seconds later, I was standing at the spot the fox was at when I shot, desperately hoping I didnít see blood on the ground. So, yes, I did shoot, but I was so fucked up doing so, perhaps my subconscious pulling the shot deliberately, that I missed. And I was very thankful for missing.

    I checked around the surrounding area looking at the foxís tracks. There was no thought about following it, none at all. Really. I just wanted to make sure I hadnít missed any blood droplets. That I really didnít hit it. I donít think I did. I donít think I missed any blood. And my missed shot, the panic of thinking Iíd compounded my gormlessness, really did this time force me to readjust. It was back to walking the path, climbing the hill, getting to the lookout Conni wanted me to see.

    Each step I told myself, ďDonít go chasing things.Ē Each animal call I heard I told myself to simply perceive them, to observe the sounds, to let the whole natural world continue on around without my blundering in. I told myself this, repeatedly, and it worked.

    As I a came around a turn, a steep one, what Iíd been looking for since Iíd arrived the day before opened up before me.



    It was only a small plateau but still it was clear ground with lush green grass. This was the image Iíd had in my head. An open space in which to see clearly. I decided to hunt.



    My walk with my mental cajoling worked. Whether this was me receiving from the world what Iíd put out I donít know. What I do know was that I had barely taken twenty steps when I saw a deer standing, at the end of the clearing, right in front of me, completely oblivious to me.

    For the briefest of moments thought after thought bounced around my head. What if I miss, losing the animal? What if I hit, but, again, it isnít a good shot? Do I need to get closer? Are there bigger, more valuable animals waiting to come into view? Am I denying myself the opportunity to discover something more just over that ridge if I take this animal down? Will my scent, being blown towards it, alert it just as I take my shot? Like I said, these thoughts were all in an instant. Maybe they werenít even thoughts but a feeling.

    I held my breath. My mind emptied. I pulled the trigger. The animal jumped. I knew Iíd hit it.

    I lowered my rifle and kept my eye exactly on the spot the deer had been standing before it fled. Iíd need to find its track and follow it for what I was sure was my most satisfying, if not my most prestigious kill.

    My mind stayed clear until I was about twenty meters away when something started nagging at me. Fifteen meters away I realised I was so focused as I shot I didnít see, or couldnít remember, which direction the deer had run, and there were no obvious tracks I could spot the closer I came to its former grazing spot.



    Checking the blood it had left on the ground from the impact of the bullet was a bittersweet moment. I couldnít pinpoint the direction it had gone, and so know where to start looking for its tracks, but the amount of blood confirmed Iíd hit a vital organ. Surely it couldnít have gone far? Or, maybe, the luck saving me from my previous three cock ups had run out?



    Thinking about my own inclination I imagined I wouldnít run towards the cliff face, where Iíd be trapped against a wall, I would run towards the cliff edge. Either way represents difficulty but the edge at least has the feeling of an escape.

    I walked towards the pines, despite not seeing any tracks to follow. Looking out from the plateau I wasnít thinking of the view or the world below, I was thinking of the animal. What this shot meant to me. After floundering and ignoring my own plans, getting caught in a series of mistakes, then digging deep into myself as a way to settle this felt like the culmination of a small, error ridden first half of my morning.

    Perhaps that too was part of the issue? Iíd been moving so quickly my day didnít seem right, but coming to this field after forcing myself to keep focus was a reward. Now I just needed to find the deer I shot.

    It wasnít long, amidst the few tall pines, that I found the trail I was looking for. The fallow deer startled, ran one way, the turned back on himself. Turning myself around too I saw I had to navigate some boulder drops. I hoped the deer, in its panic, didnít fall from the height, but it was only moments later after crossing some rocks that I found its body.



    It wasnít a trophy. It wasnít even my most valuable or biggest kill. It is my most significant, so far. It is the kill where I feel like it wasnít luck (although I know there was a lot of luck involved) rather it was some display of my determination and skill, my battle with my own doubts and getting over them with proper healthy thinking. It was the world and me sharing in a moment where I can acknowledge that some things do come right.

    I didnít spend long with the downed animal. It wasnít a celebration, it was a brief bit of time that just made sense.

    I knew what my purpose was and that was always to climb to the outlook, as Conni had instructed me to do.



    After a few minutes walk, up and up, along the small worn path, I had the viewpoint in sight. I was expecting a similar tower to the one Iíd previously been on, like a construction that represented the significance of what Iíd been through in getting there, but it was already the highest point for miles around so it was only a wooden platform, with some benches and information signs...



    ... and a view. I can see all across the forest.

    Iím here now, writing this, and I will say I didnít spend too long looking out from the platform. Itís not an awesome sight. I feel no sense of wonder at what I see. What it is is something that is just right and just proper. This is whatís natural.

    In my life, when it was all going wrong, I was looking for signs, significance, meaning, and something to tell me whatís important.

    Today, here, I feel there are no grand moments. There were no grand moments to my morning. Intense moments, sure, and significant moments. There were times I felt lost, wild, hopless, times I felt in control, times I felt control slipping from me. In the city I was looking for a purpose to all of those things. Right now I know all of this is just living.

    Iím going to sit here a little longer. Maybe someone else will come up here, maybe Conni will contact me. At some point, in a few minutes, in an hour, Iíll walk back down that path I came up and keep on living.

  4. #4
    Lowa [NSN]'s Avatar
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    What...what is happening in here?
    Quote Originally Posted by Tarminic View Post
    I would create a dragon made out of vaginas. Then I would create a dragon made out of dicks. Then I would have them fight to the death.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lowa [NSN] View Post
    What...what is happening in here?
    An example of why the spoiler tag is one of the most important tags in a forum.

  6. #6
    Mrenda's Avatar
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    Chapter 3

    Once Iíd finished up at the outlook I made my way back to where Iíd slept the night before. That area had been bustling with animal life in the morning but going back it was as though I was in a daze. I seemed to arrive at the outpost as if I was barely conscious for the walk back, just appearing there.

    Conni, too, seemed to be aware of this, and set me a task through the integrated radio/internet/communication systems on my HunterMate as though she was worried Iíd be tempted by a nap.



    A woman named Gerlinde Jšger, a local expert on fallow deer was looking for more photographs of them for her second book on the animals. I was already happy taking photos, as you can see, so this didnít seem like too much hassle at all. I presumed, as well, thereíd be some reward: cash for the facilities scattered around.

    It was all coming across like a big family here. People vitally interested in the reserve, sharing the ability to survive and make a living from the area as long as you werenít some gobshite blasting everything you see, doing damage to the environment and its balance.

    I was happy to accept, but thinking back now, bad-thinking, I should have realised her name Jšger, a big old omen calling for me to do Jšgerbomb after Jšgerbomb, which, hours lateróuseless, useless hours lateróis all I really want.



    Gerlinde said there should be fallow deer to photograph around the outpost but Iíd hunted that area earlier in the morning. I could absolutely hunt here some more but if the animals begin to sense an area is a severe danger to them they might abandon it. As well as that, animals donít stay still all day. Theyíll have their own routines, places to eat, drink, and sleep and rest, so even if I didnít scare them away with my presence and shooting theyíd probably have traveled to another area. With that in mind I decided to head south of the outpost, especially with my map showing there were areas of interest to explore down that way.



    One thing I did notice around the outpost was a cast-off set of antlers. I got onto Conni who told me people definitely collect these. In fact many people have vast collections. If I was to find any more sheíd be happy to take them off me, for museums, the people whoíd like the casts the deer abandon as they grow, even for curious kids. Again the support being shown to me from others in the reserve was coming through loud and clear.

    I was buoyed at this point. I was to explore, just bumbling through the Rathenfeldt area of the reserve, and I knew good things would come to me. Which, really, shows how little I do know.



    Still, I did my checks before setting out for what I was sure would be a superb late morning. As I examined my rifleóan ounce of prevention and all thatóI noticed some of my old skills, at least from the rifle range when I was a kid stalking you, Granda, were starting to come back to me (I guess you are useful.) My muscle memory seemed to have actually remembered. I was now apparently able to ready multiple shots, not having to drop the rifle once Iíd taken my first shot. I had no plans on downing multiple animals, blam-blam-blam, one after the other as they panicked when I shot one of their pals, but it was good to know my abilities were coming back to me.

    Off I set.



    When I arrived to the reserve, walking out of the first outlook tower I came upon, I simply went north, i.e. straight ahead; which you can make out from one of my older photos. This was fine because the wind was ahead of me, and in the range of choices keeping going straight is an easy one. That brought me to the camp Iíd stayed in, so the reserve must have figured this is what most people would do.

    That path took me skirting the edge of the reserve, keeping its boundaries and an island to my right, but Iíd ignored a whole section of the reserve off to my left as I made my first foray yesterday. Now I was heading into that realm.



    I walked towards the deeper parts of Rathenfeldt and was immediately rewarded with a warm sun, clear skies, and a vast space that could offer me a clear shot on any animal I saw. Of course, as this chapter will show, things werenít that simple. My prior wondering whether Iíd used up my luck in the early part of the day would have an answer.



    Still, I didnít quite know that at this point. Not only did I have a wide open spaceóstunning spaceóto gaze upon, I also quickly found a resting area for some deer.

    I didnít see any animals around but this is the type of information that benefits you long term. Itís not possible to simply wander around and stumble right into animals. Theyíll see you, hear you or smell you long before you spot them with your binoculars no matter how sharp an eye you have. Getting to know their routines, the spaces they travel through, the places they rest, drink and eat will allow you not to have to blindly search for them, but to anticipate where they would be when you need them.

    I figured even if I didnít find any animals with my late morning efforts it would be a real achievement if I built up the knowledge that would help me understand the ways of this part of the reserve, so with increasing amazement at just how capable I am I trucked on.



    Part of the outdoors life is dealing with the weather and not fretting when it gets a little bit uncomfortable. However, Iíd spent the past two years or so of the pandemic ardently avoiding things like the weather by keeping myself locked away from the outside. Which is why Iím here, dear Granda. I know you warned me, years ago, that I shut myself away when things get difficult. I know you know well, now, two years of locking myself away had a disastrous result. That meant I dug deep and simply acknowledged the fact it was getting a bit foggy, it was getting a bit damp. I wasnít going to ascribe meaning to a bit of rain coming in behind me because this isnít a Greek tragedy.

    I was happy in my gear, proper waterproofs, warm clothes, and I was going to see the site Conni marked on map that she said was of interest.



    Arriving there I remembered what Conni had said when I first arrived and thought, ďYep, itís a burial mound.Ē I read the information sign which basically said, ďYep, itís a burial mound,Ē but adding the information that itís bronze age. To me it looked like a little hill, nothing more. Maybe I just wasnít in the right frame of mind to link up the idea of this land having a long history, and at one point there were ancient peoples just making do here, even hunting like me. I would have been more impressed if it was a glacial feature, a drumlin, or an accrual of strange mounds like sometimes happens with moraines. I think all this was because I wasnít thinking of people, of society, but of things like glaciers. Slowly moving impossible forces in the world is more my bent at the moment, not people, who are idiots. Idiots like me.

    I donít think I even spent time honoring the dead. I looked. I left.

    It was onto discovering more of the features of the reserve, the nature, not the dumdum or even ancient, quite smart humanity.



    As is the way of the world my desire to meet with nature was, as should be expected, met with the needs of people. Straight away I found a road. At least, as you can see, it was small, and I was following the dirt road running off it rather than the concrete or tar, or whatever the main part was constructed with.

    I traveled north, for a while, and once the point of interest I was looking for was directly off to my left I broke away from the path and made my way through some scrub and trees. I didnít expect what I found.



    It was a seeming natural wasteland. It looked like fire had destroyed it, lightning maybe, even a flood, or at least I hoped so. I hoped it wasnít human caused destruction.

    The stump made it look like this was an area that had been tended to, after the damage occurred, but with the greyness overhead, the barrenness in front of me, boulders from god knows where, it was not the most pleasant or encouraging of sights. At most I could think it was the beginning of a renewal. Given time, and luck, one-hundred, two-hundred years from now this area might have a new, vibrant lease of life started from this upset.



    Past that rocky waste I arrived at the point Conni had marked on my HunterMate finding stacks of prepared wood. I knew these were scattered all over the reserve, ready to be built into something. Someone, maybe Conni herself or people working for her, had decided this was a point to build a blind. Itíd take sponsorship from people hunting here and if I wanted to spend my cash I could pay for this to be a hideaway to shoot from.

    What it told me was, according to the local experts, this should be a place to observe animals, at least in their opinion. You donít set up a blind in an area animals donít frequent so I knew there was a chance of this being a familiar ground, or near to it, for deer, or boar, maybe.

    I decided to look around.

    I walked gently and quietly through the trees that were at the bottom of the view from the prospective blind but there was nary sight nor sound of anything living unless you count the midges. Midges told me there might be some water nearby because Iím fierce smart at figuring things out like that.



    And there very much was water nearby. I investigated the area for evidence of this being some animalsí drinking spot but could only content myself with taking a photo. This was the point where I felt the day turning on me.

    Unlike earlier, when I saw a resting area for some deer, I couldnít find any examples of animals, at any point, being present here. This did not mean they didnít come here. I think, no, Iím sure, this is a case of me forgetting most of what you taught me, Granda. Of my brain atrophying from two years of lockdown laziness, isolating myself from friends, relationships, the world, and any stimulation. Two years of increasing detachment.

    No matter how I searched, and Iíll be honest, I didnít search that hardóIíd given up because it wasnít easyóI didnít find anything.

    I left, annoyed with myself. Annoyed with the reserve turning on me. Iíd said Iíd be happy bumbling around, exploring, even if I didnít find any animals to engage with, but that was naive.



    As I went north the sun came out again but did nothing to change my worsening mood. I found new land, open fields of cut crops, bails of hay, or straw, and more blinds I could sponsor to be constructed. As is the story of these hours of non-adventure I didnít find a single animal.



    I ventured past the open fields, again without seeing or hearing anything, and found my way back into a wooded area. Finally, I did hear something other than the wind rattling grass, growth and leaves; one of those red foxes that had eluded my efforts so far.



    The combination of the foxís mating calls and the tracks showing it was moving at a walk told me maybe there was one of the little tricksy bastards nearby. Out came my trusty little jackrabbit caller, a big deep breath, then that stupid sound was whining out into the air around me. I knew Iíd finally found something on my southerly travels.

    Except I didnít. I may have, if Iíd been a bit more patient, but I was getting pissy. I donít know how long I spent there, five, ten, fifteen minutes, but when the fox refused to come right out in the open, despite my stupid little shitty recorder/flute/jackrabbit trumpet, I gave up. I stood straight up and walked out into the gap making a hell of a lot of noise. Even if it was just a wave of petulance I had no opportunity to change my mind now. Iíd thrown such a strop that any animal within half a mile would smell the stroppy pheromones erupting from my pores and think, ďThereís some nobhead ready to murder me there, best fuck off elsewhere.Ē And I knew it. I was the nobhead.

    So while all the animals fucked off I did as well.

    I stomped about realising I was getting nothing from my day, and then the day gave me the finger.



    After Conni told me people were look for casts, and Iíd be rewarded for finding them, what did I find but a cast in the middle of a fucking fairy fort. It really summed up how shitty my morning had turned since I walked mindlessly from the outlook of my previous entry and started off this new chapter of my adventure.

    If any of your buddies donít know about fairy forts then all they really need to hear is theyíre cursed. Iím not religious, or spiritual, but even then a fucking fairy fort will give me reason to pause. Maybe itís a childhood thing but superstition is far more powerful than faith. Despite all that, being tormented or stolen away by fairies would be about right for my day. So, after snapping the picture of what would lead to my demise, I trudged right in and picked up the cast.



    Even though I was doomed from entering the fairy fort, and despite my grump, I tried, I really tried to round out those few hours by putting some shape on the day. I decided to head towards another outlook Conni had marked on my map. Like the last one Iíd been to it wasnít built tall rather it was on top of a hill. So up I went.

    The last outlook Iíd been to I had to follow a path after not being able to find it through simple discovery. Being in a foul mood, and totally bloody-minded, I said, ďFuck you world!Ē and decided to get myself into a jam. The path to the outlook skirted around one small hill next to the bigger hill the outlook was on, with a dip between them. Instead of being sensible and following the path I decided I would blaze my own trail and go between the hills, to save me a whopping five minutes. If I didnít get lost.



    It worked! One thing worked in my day, although it wasnít enough to cheer me up. I might have grunted approval when I saw my way open up but I was still having a pisser of a midday. As was expected, and true to form, there were still no animals to be found even if I did get my shortcut.



    From the top of the outlook I could see all around me. There were some new interesting areas to discover, plotted into my HunterMate map from the information point up there, and best of all I discovered there was a rest lodge nearby.



    It only took few minutes walk until I was finally at the end of my self-inflicted morning ordeal. I was somewhere comfortable, somewhere new, and most tellingly, somewhere bigger with more places to bed down than the first campsite just inside the entrance to the reserve. I was really getting deep into all this despite my mood.

    My problemóthese past few hoursóis I thought, Ēwhat comes, comesĒ, and Iíd be happy with whatever was delivered to me. But thatís not how the world works. Iím not some rich failson. I donít have a trust fund, or oodles of wealth and connections to fall back on. Iím not totally broke, I had enough cash to get here. Living like a hermit for two years during lockdown while fooling my employer into thinking I was working means I do have some savings, plus thereís what youíve given to me for this adventure in hunting, but Iím not someone who gets an easy living just because. I had the wrong attitude on my latest outing. I tried to convince myself that I was some zen master, that simply being here was a reward in itself, but I want things from here. I want to prove myself. And to do that I have to put effort in. So how do I put that into practice?

    If my lack of noticing tracks and bedding spots, my failing to find the signs of animals having been drinking at the lake Iíd found earlier in my morning tell me anything itís that not only will things not come to me just because I want them, but the effort I have to put in is in remembering all my skills, and improving on all Iíve forgotten. Animals wonít simply present themselves; I have to build up my experience and learn how to better understand their ways. I have to understand myself, and my moods, and better my-self most of all.

    Iím constantly learning, but if I have a bad attitude like this morning Iíll get nowhere. Which means Iíll have a coffee here at this outpost, something to perk me upóno sad-feels Jšgerbombs for meóand try, I hope, I really hope I can, to put the hard graft in.

    Once Iíve had the coffee and a bit of a sit down I think Iíll head back to the first outpost, then maybe try the island I saw on my map. Naturally itís enclosed by water, so there could be a resident, isolated population of deer. Maybe Iíll get Gerlinde Jšgerís photo, and maybe I wonít turn into a pissy mess again if I just do things properly.

    Maybe Iíll see a red fox that isnít just a distant blur? Maybe I'll even shoot one of the bastards...

  7. #7
    Movember '12 Best Facial Hair Movember 2012Donor Lallante's Avatar
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    I have no interest in this game but your effortpost write up is a pleasure to read, thanks dude

  8. #8
    Mrenda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lallante View Post
    I have no interest in this game but your effortpost write up is a pleasure to read, thanks dude
    Thanks, lad! I have another few coming. I'll keep doing it as long as it's enjoyable.

  9. #9
    Mrenda's Avatar
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    Chapter 4

    My morning hadnít been the best. What do you do when that happens? Pick yourself up and dust yourself off. I traveled back to the first lodge, feeling a little more familiar with the area, feeling like I had more of a chance of figuring out the area, and began with a new found determination.

    There was a bit of a fog in my head, like a hangover from annoyance clouding up my thoughts, but after the evening I had I can barely remember it being a factor.



    My plan was to head east to that island you see there. It seems close by on the map but Iíll tell you itís not. Not really. Not with whatís in between. The area there seems to be teeming with life. Except itís not just animal life alone. Thereís every damn kind of plant, bush, hedge and tree to get in your way. I think even the rocks have grown legs and tried to walk in front of me.



    Looking at that picture you might say, ďWell Eimear, if you stuck to your plan, which I know you wonít because youíre you, youíll make it to the island. Thereís a path right there! And you are right, sticking to plans is not my strong point. Something I just have to laugh about now.



    Conni, helpful as always, sent me the details of some tracks following along the very path you mention. It didnít take long piecing them together before I found a rest zone for the red foxes. Red foxes have tormented me since I got here, earning the name, ďlittle blurry bastards,Ē and they would continue to make a fool out of me as the day, and night, wore on. Youíre to blame for that, as well. A little bit anyway.

    The main problem Iíve found with the little blurry bastards is that theyíre horny as anything. I can be anywhere, tracking anything, and theyíll be screaming out, ďlookin for sum fuk!Ē Dirty bastards.

    Itís probably my own fault for being distracted with wanting to shoot them when they just want to get it on but if they stayed a bit more on-the-down-low I wouldnít go after them. Not that Iíve had much success in hitting one yet.

    Anyway, it was a rest zone, so I knew where I could find them once I figured out their schedule a bit.



    I gave a few blows on my jackrabbit caller, for good measure and to see if I could coax a little blurry bastard out if they were still around having a post-coital fag, but the only thing that responded were some roe deer. I could have gone after the roe, but first off, my scent was what alerted them. My big stinky stink lines were being blown right into their schnozzes. Secondly, I had to get Gerlinde pictures of fallow deer, not roe deer. A kill would be nice, but Iíd become single-minded on this. The kind of single-minded where I completely ignored my other single-minded-ness to go to the island for a new single-minded-ness that just occurred to me. I donít know what youíd call that. Iíll figure it out at some point.

    I decided to head in a general northerly direction, what with the wind at my back.

    I picked up some tracks for some fallow deer, and some old poo, so I just blundered ahead.



    That was a mistake. They must have gone in circles because within a minute or two I heard warning calls from them. They were nearby.



    I crept ahead, trying to make as little noise as possible, and soon I sighted them. They were resting in the middle of the woods here. I took a photo, sent it Gerlinde, but she needed something closer.

    The problem for me was that there was tall grass and bushes all ahead of me. If I got down on my stomach and crawled I wouldnít be able to see them. If I did what was necessary to get a photo theyíd see me and be off within a second.

    I felt like I had to get high ground on them.



    I turned away from them and slowly began to move up to a little raised patch. The problem was I lost sight of them completely as I did.

    Rest zones are great, all animals have somewhere they go to chill out, but thatís not all they do in their day. It seemed Iíd caught them just as they were moving on; I think, at least. I didnít hear any new warning calls once I began to crawl but still they were gone.

    The worst thing about this type of movement in chasing them is they move faster than you if youíre trying to be quiet. If youíre not trying to be quiet they get spooked and move even faster again.

    The other worst thing, and I think I know now why you say you never mastered this area, is that animals moving a little bit faster than you would be fine in most other places. In most other places there arenít so many bumps and dips in the land, there arenít so many trees at random places, the grass isnít growing high, then bushy, and there isnít fallen twigs and branches. Hirschfelden isnít just a case of finding animals without them noticing you. You can find them. You can know theyíre there. But if you donít have any way to get a shot because thereís a warehouse of nature in your way youíre screwed.

    Iíll give you a bit of an image dump to show you this. Although Iím sure you well know I bet youíll get a kick out of it happening to meÖ



    A track! Easy peasy! Just follow it.



    Iím close by with a big shouty bastard shouting. Does this mean I can see him? Does it fuck!



    Not only are the red foxes getting horny but so are the fallow deer! Big olí horny yelps! Will he be distracted enough for me to sneak up on him? I think you already know.



    Another track. And itís leading towards where a hide is planned! Now Iím thinking I might be blessed with some clear lines of sight to actually spot the fuckers.



    Do I get that clear line of sight with the direction heís walking? I do in me hole!



    Now night is falling. With the trees in my way I can barely see shit. With the darkness I can see less than that. Which gets me thinking about why theyíd have a hide when the animals are walking into a forest you canít see into? Sure, the animals might come from the opposite, clear direction, but they wonít stop for you to pick out the best target. I know Iím just shooting what I can but some people, people like you, will only take the proper trophies. You wonít care about taking out the small ones, in fact youíll leave them grow and establish healthier herds. Even still, I wondered about why put a hide in a place that doesnít have much space around it?

    My injured-jackrabbit caller has been fucking useless so far but my roe bleater worked, I think. At least once, anyway. Maybe. Maybe what I need is a fallow deer caller? Maybe thatís what this hide is for? The deer go into the forest and you call a few out as the main herd mills about just out of sight.



    I do a quick check with my HunterMate and they have what I need; an antler rattler. It works on fallow deer, reindeer, caribou, lesser kudu and more. Itíd be great if I ever hunt anywhere else, with all those animals. This would be the first bit of gear I get for myself, not the stuff you gave to me. Except, despite how lovely Conni has been, she thinks Iíd be better off learning more traditional skills. Prove myself a bit more, that I can cope without the toys, then I can get the toys.

    Fuck!

    Itís dark. The deer are impossible. I canít get a photo let alone a shot off. I need to take a break. The idea of Jšgermeister rears in my head again but really Iíd just like a strong glass of wine. Something to soothe me and slow me down a little. A little relaxation.

    I head back to the lodge for a little while, deciding whether to sleep or not, but I donít want to end this day with fuck all to show for it.

    I decide to head out again. Now Iím really suckiní diesel, even if Iím a decrepit auld banger of a hunter.

    The wind is blowing from the north so I decide to head south and slowly search my way up through the part of the reserve Iím already familiar with.



    This actually works! Soon I find a herd of fallow deer traveling through the corn fields. Iím too far away for a picture, and theyíre moving too fast for me to catch them, but I know the direction theyíre heading; back to the fucking forested area!



    It takes painstaking work to follow them. Mostly of me convincing myself theyíre moving north and east, not any other direction, because south would lead them to me and south-east would bring them to where my butt is smelling out with the wind.



    Somehow, despite my steady pace, I manage to find them without them getting scared off. They must be getting snoozy.

    However, Iím still not close enough for the zoom on my camera.



    I creepÖ



    And I crawlÖ



    And eventually Iím close enough to a tree, and the animals, that I can get off my stomach and at least be on my knees with cover to break up my silhouette.

    ForewarningÖ This doesnít quite work out, but the thing Iím taking from this is that I found an area both roe and fallow deer rest in. This is all adding to the results of mission to get the lay of the land.

    Despite me being mostly useless I might, eventually, be able to tell other people how to hunt Hirschfelden, even if Iím not the best at it myself.

    But I wasnít thinking of that at the time. I had a mission. I stood.



    I get a picture of a fallow deer.

    Itís not the most impressive picture. The doe is small, sheís lying down, thereís branches across my view, and more shrubs than a garden show in the foreground, but Conni seems to think itíll work. Maybe Gerlinde Jšger will like that Iíve managed to get a night-time photo of a fallow doe at rest? Maybe Conni thinks, ďBetter not keep that eejit out all night, sheíll just wake me again!Ē Who knows? Iíve done my bit for the reserve and Gerlindeóafter Conni put me forwardóso now itís time to shoot something.

    The one thing I have noticed is that thereís no big bucks around here. Maybe they like to stay a little way away from the does, maybe they like a little more cover. Thatís why my shot is so important. If I can bring in some more harvests itíll show Conni that Iím not a total chancer and itís OK for me to use the likes of antler rattlers around the reserve.



    I line up my shot, waiting for the doe to stand. The problem is Iíve gone most of the day without success, not hunting-wise anyway, so I get impatient. The deer could fuck off at any moment leaving me to yet more hours of tracking.

    The doe does stand but as you can see, even with her presenting herself perfectly, I donít have a great view.

    Does that stop me? No. Because Iím a fucking idiot. I shoot.

    She runs off.



    When I get to the wound splatter it tells me what I already know: I am a fucking idiot. An impatient fucking idiot. Thereís no sign I hit an organ. At best it was a flesh wound. The doe will be upset, hurt, in pain. Maybe the wound will get infected. I know I wonít be able to track her down. This is on me.

    I want to give up on the day but I also donít want to give up on the day.

    I want to throw in the towel but equally a single photo isnít enough to show for over twelve hours of effort and two chapters of writing.

    I begin my stalking again when I hear a roe deer bleat from the forest line ahead of me.

    I move to the stoutest tree and hunker down. I get out my roe caller, the one toy Iím allowed have, and I give it a tweak.



    Not even a minute later a roe walks out into the open. Sheís coming straight at me, and I donít have a good shot. I think of what just happened with the fallow deer.

    I use the roe caller again, hoping the noise of it will cause her to look around, maybe even turn side-on where her shoulder blades arenít protecting her lungs.

    She walks right at me.



    I have a shot. Itís a tough shot, sheís a small animal, Iím not sure of the range zeroed in on my .243, and I have to place it right between her legs and their sturdy bones, below her neck, into her centre.

    I ignore all that just happened with the fallow doe and take the fucking shot. Iím an idiot, but a hopeful one.

    I keep my eye on where she was standing so I can run up and have the blood splatter confirm that yes, I am that idiot and Iíve fucked up again.



    Except sheís dead. Not even ten meters from where I shot her. The bullet must have absolutely ripped through her chest.

    Now itís late, and Iíd be right to call it a night but Iím not the right kind of person. Iím so kicking on potential the only thing I can think of is running around the forest short of drinking half a bottle of wine, which I donít have.



    I go down to the river, figuring something might need water and what do I hear by the little horny, little blurry bastards having one of their dalliances.

    I track them around and this time Iím determined to make use of my jackrabbit trumpet.



    Iím up on a rock, overlooking the area their cries were coming from. I can be patient this time, and I am.

    I blow every few minutes, never so relaxed, never so certain of something.



    And, eventually, a red fox (completely ignoring my headlamp) walks right into view.



    Now look at this! Itís the perfect shot you might think. Except Iím documenting this for you, dear Granda, so I was futzing about with cameras and link ups and all manner of shit. Instead of taking the shot I was pressing buttons and the fox turned around just a split second after I took this picture.

    Sure, foxes are pests, but I was thinking about the fallow doe I gave a flesh wound to. The fox was so small that a flesh wound would be a serious flesh wound. It could survive for weeks, but itíd be in horrific pain. Thatís why I got out my jackrabbit bugle and went to give it another blow.

    Thatís when the fox turned around again, before I had the pained-rabbit-tuba out.

    I rushed for my rifle; and this is the result.



    As I snatched between camera, caller and gun I was all in a mess. Picking up the gun I, somehow, managed to fire blindly into the air. The fox darted off, Iíd missed my chance to shoot the blurry bastard that really wasnít that blurry this time, and the only thing I could do was laugh at myself. Which is strangeÖ

    After a morning of annoyance and anger my travails since then have not been easy. I am missing some things I need that others feel I shouldnít be relying on yet. I am upsetting things when Iím too close, and blundering into opportunities by happenstance.

    Most of all, I am having fun. I enjoyed today, at least once I got over my morning funk. I got Gerlinde Jšgerís photo and I bagged one roe deer.

    I havenít had the most amazing of kills but Iím making slow progress. And I hope youíre enjoying seeing the progress Iím making.



    After a few minutes trying to entice the red fox back (itís far too smart for that) I just decided to lie on that rock overlooking my missed opportunity and laugh at my idiocy. Rather than damning myself, or using self-deprecation to deflect, this laughing was more at the tumble around the washing machine that is life.

    Eventually I took out my HunterMate and with my focus since the photo I realised I missed a message back from Gerlinde Jšger. Normally sheíd take care of herds destroying crops grown here by the owners of the reserve but with her book she doesnít have time. Sheíd like me to do it for her.

    I guess she really liked my photo and must have some confidence in me.



    I guess Iíll be traveling north to the Petershain Cornfields for some reserve management just as I was getting a small handle on this small section of land Iíve been frequenting. But thatís what this all is, right? Itís about discovery and learning; whether about me, you, or the game of hunting.

    I donít need to prove myself by over-working a small area right by where I started out. I can get the tools and toys that help me by helping others. Others who seem to have some belief in me. Others who I can prove myself to by assisting them when they need it.

    Iíll get a bit of a sleep now, but, honestly, Iím ready to keep on with my learning. Whatever happens itís been a bit of an adventure. My story must be tame for you, with what youíve done, but think of me as you did thirty years ago, when you took me in, and I think youíd agree this is all good. At the very least I might be entertaining. At the very least Iím doing it for me, which seems to be working out fine.

  10. #10
    Mrenda's Avatar
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    Chapter 5

    It was only a quick nap I took. My first night here I slept from 9pm until 6am, a more healthy sleep than Iíd had in two years so I must have been able to make do with a slim few hours shut-eye after that.



    The plan was to head north towards an outpost marked on my map thatís just across the river. From there Iíd explore a little and head northwest towards the Petershain corn fields where Gerlinde Jšger wanted me to clear out some of the deer population.

    The chances of finding deer there straight away is slight, but even with my still-recovering hunter skills I might find a feed zone for them, or something, especially if theyíre doing serious damage to the crops. Deer like a free lunch as much as anyone.

    No sooner had I stepped outside the door of the lodge, after struggling into my gear and loading up my backpack, did I hear one of the little blurry bastards howling from nearby. Iím not sure if it was alertness from a rest, the night making everything close in, or my senses attuning to the wild but the howl seemed on top of me.



    This, of course, meant my plans were interrupted straight away. I crawled back against a fence near the outpost, lay on the ground, and tried to call them in with my jackrabbit bugler.

    I was so confident this would work. Itíd have to work. This is the kind of blessing right on the starting of your day the stupidity of it all ensures itís a sure thing.

    Reader? Did it work? It did not work. I didnít hear a sound for the next fifteen minutes.

    The problem with those little blurry fox bastards is you just canít tell what theyíre doing. Theyíre so small and light they could be standing ten feet inside some scrub and you wouldnít know, unlike red deer, or even roe deer, which will come to you and youíll hear if you donít have a thirty a day smoking habit like some people. Looking at you, Granda.



    I set myself north, after giving up on the red fox, and followed along the road that had brought me so much success on my first morning here. With only a nap in the middle of the night I wasnít quite sure what morning it wasÖ This morning? Yesterday morning? Iím not even sure what time it is now.

    Thatís the great thing; Iím learning time doesnít matter here. If you know where to look, if you keep your senses alert there is life and wonder everywhere waiting for you to discover it. Presuming you donít chase it off with your heavy footsteps.



    I decided I wouldnít leave the road if I heard any animals. Unless I could spot them with my binoculars I wouldnít be distracted from my plan to get the outpost, and then onto the cornfields.

    I needed to prove I could handle those deer antler rattlers, and that means helping some of the reserveís long-standing friends. When I heard a roe deer I kept this in mind and kept to my plan. I continued on.



    This seemed to work out for the best, stick to the road, and it wasnít long before I heard a red deer calling from straight in front of me, on the road, at least I hoped.

    I did say I felt my senses had improved, but not to the point I can decipher precisely where a call is coming from. Itís going to take a lot more before Iím able to do that but this call did give the impression it was ahead of me.

    I took myself a little away from the heavy tarmac of the road and onto the slightly softer surface of the grass but only a few feet from my path.

    I walked on, hearing another call soon enough.

    I wondered how far Iíd actually gone.



    It was out with my map and I saw I wasnít far from the drinking ground Iíd found earlier.

    If madness is the doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results than first off, I hadnít learned anything from it, and secondly, I must be having fun being insane.



    So, you guessed it, itís into the forest for me.

    Plans? Theyíre made to be broken. Which is why Iíll never get anywhere, something you often said.

    Wandering around with you as a child I was always wondering and imagining while you tried to teach me to focus. I guess your buddies like my dopey dreamy state, which is why theyíre happy to help me here and why I know theyíre all reading this too. The thing is I lost the dreamy imagination I had. As I grew older it just seemed to depart, and these past two years, as I got worse and worse, my mind grew emptier and emptier. I had no motivation, no way to envision a future. I couldnít even imagine winning the lottery as I used to to lull me to sleep when I was a college student. I had nothing inside me for the past two years. Now, even if I am breaking my plans, even if Iím not focused like you want me to be, I am dreaming and imagining. Iím thinking about the big animal, the great red deer, and, you know, itís fun! Iím having fun! This might not be what you want but itís big for me. I came here to recover and I can feel my recovery beginning.

    C

    I headed east for a while, just to ensure my scent wasnít being caught by the wind, then I turned north. I was now back in the forests that had caused me so much difficulty. Trees in the way, uneven land, grass, twigs and branches, both dried and wet, varying from being silent to cracking under my feet. I slowed down.



    It was then I saw a roe deer up on the hillside above me. I didnít know what to do.

    I had come for red deer, the bigger game being the reason I left the road, but a doe right in my vision and a clear shot would mean I had at least something to show for departing my plans.

    I took the shot.



    The deer ran.

    I walked up to the spot it was when I shot it and immediately saw blood trails. Roe are small and a .243 with polymer-tipped bullets is almost too much for them.



    It was a short walk to find them, dead on the ground.

    I was right to take the shot, I thought at the time. I had, at the least, bagged one kill.



    Then it was onto the drinking grounds Iíd found for the red deer the day before. It was right within their schedule, so I snuck up, making as little noise as I could manage. Even crawling at points. That there was a hide nearby told me this had to be a good spot.



    Except it wasnít. Either my shot for the roe deer had scared them off, or something else did. Maybe I wasnít entirely correct on their routine, or maybe my hunting there previously meant they werenít going to return so quickly.

    I stayed for about an hour, getting more and more impatient before giving up. I have a lot to learn about red deer and was feeling like me getting one the day before had been pure luck. Even then, unlike the roe deer, the .243 is verging on small for red deer. It can take them, but Iíd have to be good. I donít consider myself good yet.



    With no easy way back up to the road, a steep cliff being between me and it, I made my way along the river, low and slow, hoping to find any animal drinking.

    This was far from my plans for a quick trip to the outpost north and then onto the corn fields to prove myself. But, you know what I said about my imagination coming back; another thing coming back to me is my freedom. I have to be free to take these side-trips and not punish myself for them. Iíve been fired from my job, and luckily nothing more, I have time and enough money, with you and your friends supporting meóand the people I met at the reserveóI can take this opportunity to simply indulge myself. I know itís what I need. I know itís what right to fully regain my health and my strength.

    I still canít fully do it. There are moments of anger and annoyance but thatís all part of it, I know that, accept it and Iím coming to believe in it. Iíve been here less than 36 hours and there are times, sometimes even a whole sixty minutes where I forget the real world. After that hour forgetting I realise I am fully immersed in this even realer world.



    Following the river I found another drinking zone for more red deer, and despite it being the correct time for them to be there there were none around. I wondered if this meant these deer travelled quickly, maybe solo, maybe they only drank for a few minutes before continuing on. Either way I did find some tracks, and thinking the deer might have just moved on I decided to go after it.



    I made it all the way to the road to the north while following it at which point I had a decision to make; Iíd ended up where Iíd intended to go in the first place, but I was also on the tail of a deer, a big one. Iíd put a lot of effort into this, even if I had no real choice with the cliff keeping me by the river, but I had to make my mind up whether Iíd follow after the deer or go back to my original plan.

    I was getting tired of following this pain in the ass deer. I was giving up hope, or just getting impatient. Iíd heard literally nothing from him or her all these past minutes. Iíd heard no other animals either. I was wondering if my skills in identifying drinking grounds, at least for these impressive red deer, werenít quite what I thought they were.

    I thought to myself continue on a little way, see if thereís any evidence theyíre around, but if you donít come across it donít commit to going deep into the forest away from the bridge to the northerly lands. Of course my writing should tell you where this type of firm thinking leads me; wandering halfway around the world, at least in steps taken.



    Except my lackadaisical thinking couldnít damn me this time. Not even a few feet after crossing to the opposite side of the road I found some of the deerís scat.

    Iíd been following a red deer that hadnít been around for hours. So much for my drinking grounds!



    It was across the bridge and into a new area of Hirschfelden. I was still far from the cornfields and had to check out the outpost if I was going to spend time here but one thing immediately struck me...



    Ö the lands here were far more open.

    I couldnít count on it. Iíd discovered the terrain is variable here in Central Europe, at least this part. Beautiful, sure, but you can quickly go from sweeping fields, to managed arable land, to thick forest, to undulating wooded areas and cliff-faces with no sight on anything within loud-talking distance. And the less said about the weather the better.



    It was quickly onto the outpost, just two small buildings, all while I noticed how incredibly quiet it was. It was a quietness that gave me time to address whether I was really making progress or just fooling myself into thinking I was.

    It would have been easy to sit down at that point. Iíd been walking for a while but the parts that tired me wasnít the mere distance travelled but the moving slowly, crouching and crawling on my belly, and being constantly aware of the noise I was making as I tracked a deer; a deer it turned out was miles away.



    Like I said, it would have been easy to sit down and take a rest, but Iíd spotted on my earlier looking at the map there was a point of interest right nearby, just at the end of a smaller path. I thought whatís the harm in just checking out the area a little, to know what Iíd be dealing with after I had a snooze in a comfy chair. I really hope thereís a comfy chair.

    Iím glad I did take that path.



    The trail lead to something I hadnít seen in a long time: confirmation that yes, this reserve does have more than a small field of open space like the south-ease. In fact it has vast open space in sunlight, with trees bracketing it for deer and animals to walk through.



    And what do you know? Not fifteen minutes later, after some scanning-the-treeline-time with my binoculars at my eyes Iím looking at this; tracks in the open.

    Iíd found a deer, far easier than anywhere on the southerly part of Hirschfelden, and I had and took my clear shot. It wasnít just tracks in the open, it was tracks with blood from a deer I had a straight view on.

    Now, it wasnít the best shot, Iíll admit that. I was surprised at the opportunity presented to meóand to make excuses the deer turned just as I was firing. But Iíd shot something, in a restful situation, with no cursing under my breath, or self-damnation and doubt after.



    Like I said, not the best shot; confirmed by examining the body, but already I was in love with my decision to venture out, to follow this little route.

    It wasnít even five minutes later, as I sat back against a tree thanking what the open ground had provided to me, that I heard a deer bleating; a roe deer. A deer Iím actually entrusted with a caller for.

    I dabbed the caller and waited for the roe to come into view.



    I caught glimpses of it, as it came closer and closer, behind little mounds and the trees. This one, specifically, is a deer I loved. It was being true to itself.

    Despite an open space between me and it, and my horny deer caller filling the air, it still stuck to the treeline. It was curious but cautious and shooting it wouldnít be an easy task for me. It knew its own mind and wasnít willing to rush headlong into things.



    Eventually it did come out, and I got my shot.



    Through his spine.

    If my former friends are reading this, knowing this blog is about meóitís not, really, itís for my grandfather, firstly, and his friends who are helping me, secondly. Itís not for the people who abandoned me but if they know Iím doing what I refused to do as a child, actually shooting animals, then know thereís a huge amount of respect beneath it all. My grandfatherís friends will use every part of this animal; his life wonít be wasted. More, and going back to spirituality I mentioned in a previous post, this isnít gratuitous. This isnít chickens eating each other in battery farms. This isnít pigs in pens with no space to move and developing sores.

    I donít think Iíll die out here. I donít want to die, donít worry about that, but there is some truth to all this. At most I can respect the animals, and I do, I am the one killing them and theyíre unlikely to take me out. But, like I said, it isnít gratuitous. Iím not Rambo. I havenít fully worked it out but I feel it all, if not slotting into place, then coming near to its purpose. That the roe challenged my for so long, a simple idiot roe, by never giving me a clear shot until I worked and worked is an example of this pattern of life; this pattern of respect. Something I didnít have for me, something you sometimes hid from me, Granda. Something my past friends couldnít even begin to contemplate.



    As I walked towards the outlook I came across another roe. It was an easy shot and I felt like Iíd truly found some meaning here. This was making sense, food was being provided to other hunters, life was in balance.



    I didnít think of any more shooting or any more animals as I finally got the tower in sight. I hadnít even known Iíd decided to go it. Just ninety minutes beforehand I was thinking of sitting down and resting but then beauty and life came together, for me at least.



    Up here I read back through my first bit of writing. My first blog; my first post. All I can think of is beginnings arenít always the easiest.

    When I arrived at the reserve I presumed they had it setup so theyíd slowly easy you into more arduous and treacherous land. That the far south, with an outpost immediately along your first path, with somewhere to rest just by the entrance was a place for the day-trippers. That I hadnít found my real reason to do the more difficult things, to go deeper into myself.

    I know full well from years of writing, years of trying to convince myself to just fucking start, the first sentence is often the most difficult; putting pen to paper; finger to keyboard; thumb to screen. Just summoning the courage to say what you have to say.

    Now I know that the entrance to the park was my difficult beginning. These past two or three hours, in the middle of the reserve, Iíve found my way by putting one foot in front of the other, but it wouldnít have happened if I didnít begin.

    I donít know if things will get difficult again. I presume they will. I know they will. I also know I was difficult on you, Granda. I blamed you for things. I called you things, at least when I began my adveture in Hirschfelden. That was my difficult beginning in even coming here. In doing what I have to do, what I need to do. Thereís so much I never said to you that Iím only saying here, in this writing, that Iím sharing with everyone whoís someway part of all of our lives, however distant or forgotten.

    I know youíll find pleasure in seeing me discover the passion you had all your life but there are still issues between us. Not everything is beatific. I still have to put where we were into where I am now, and where we could be in the future. I was harsh on you when I started writing, accusing you of all manner of conspiracies. The beginning of my huntingóin the southóthe beginning of my writing, my decision to come was all difficult, maybe even angry. You were that difficult beginning, of which weíve had many. Youíre that present I struggle with, at times, and accept, at times. Youíre a future I really donít know. Now, like my hunting, writing, and journey north I can see the tough start was worth it. I hope you accept that from me because, from this outlook, itís the beginning of meaning. Harsh words and all.

  11. #11
    Super Chillerator Global Moderator teds :D's Avatar
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    ngl i love this, nice content

  12. #12
    Mrenda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by teds :D View Post
    ngl i love this, nice content
    My ambition is to make work poos both longer and more worthwhile.

  13. #13
    Mrenda's Avatar
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    Chapter 6

    It seems some of you are actually reading this, and by you I mean Grandaís old friends. It was always the intent that youíd learn more about me, and our relationship; a way for me to chart my recovery, and for you to see my learning to hunt, and about him seeing me finally learning some lesson in my life. A few of the locals have been taking my harvests out of the reserveóthanks for that, Iím not telling you about this blogóalong with his old pals, but it was only when Dai contacted me to say, ďLetís meet up!Ē that I realised this was more than just my ramblings into the void.

    Dai said he had something for me, or more precisely his grandkids gave something to him that he wanted to give to me because, ďIíve no bloody clue how to use the stupid plastic machine!Ē Heíd read about me missing the red fox with my bumbling about with cameras and he had a present that might, just maybe, sort out my problems. ďIf you can figure out which buttons to press because I havenít the foggiest.Ē

    It was a GoPro.

    If my photos look any way different now itís because of that. Dai has the head-strappy thing and everything. I just walk around with it on my noggin and it takes everything in.

    I donít think Iíll be doing a video with it, I prefer words, but thatís where the images are coming from. Itíll leave me focused on what Iím doingóthe results of which you should seeóinstead of tripping myself up thinking of this writing, and what pictures it needs.

    Of course Dai wanted to talk about you, Granda. He is one of your closest friends, but I think he could see the emotion on my face when he mentioned you; that our relationship is still unresolved, so he just let it go.

    Then he gave me a big, British ďTa-ra!Ē and it was into the reserve for me.



    I set some waypoints on my map to help me get to where I planned on going. I didnít think Iíd be able to bag any fallow deer in the place Gerlinde wants me to protect, not without the antler rattler, so I figured I could show to Conni I understand the reserve by doing a bit more exploring. Thereís an outpost I could head to. So thatís where I set off.



    Of course I hadnít gone barely any distance before I heard the call of a red fox. So far this part of Hirschfelden had blessed me and I figured it was worth a shot trying to call it in, to get my first of its kind.

    Which, pretty much, was a waste of twenty minutes.



    Quickly it was back to following a road with another bit of telling myself not to go chasing anything unless I knew it was nearby.

    It went on and on. And on.



    It wasnít actually that far, it was just that it was another road with little signs of life and a lot of trees around me. Until I heard some roe deer nearby.

    Again I have to point out my sense of hearing hasnít quite keyed in yet; they werenít nearby. They were down a steep hill, through the forest, past some buildings that werenít on my map and right by a river. My binoculars could barely make them out much less the scope on my rifle. But weíll get to that.

    I just marked the need zone on my map as something to note for later.

    Then it was back to the road.

    And on and on. And on.

    Until the road bulged out. It swept wide and in a loop and looking at the contours on the HunterMate I didnít think the shortcut over scrub was impassable.



    It was going through that scrub that I heard a red foxís warning call. For the first time in a long time I was on their land, but with an advantage: I could see for a little while.

    I stopped dead in my tracks, so as not to alarm the fox further, whipped out my injured-jackrabbit caller to give a few blows, and then crept up to a tree that would break up my silhouette.



    The only thing not in my favour was the wind. I sprayed on my scent-killer like I was a fourteen year old boy going to the teenage disco.

    I kept on with that caller, knowing this was my time, also knowing Iíve thought this is my time plenty of times before.



    And this time it was. At least for sighting the fox.



    I could have waited long for the shot, I know that, but you know how I am. As soon as I had it sighted with my scope I just tried to line it up. Thoughts of how it could all go wrong sped across my mind like the first fox I saw, so youíre damn right I pulled the trigger without a secondís reconsidering.



    And as the law of averages would say, eventually it has to work out for me. My first red fox kill!

    The thing is, if Iím going to have any chance of getting trophy kills I canít be this hasty. It just wonít work out for me. For now itís tolerable. That wonít last.

    Maybe I have the patience while stalking and tracking? I need to develop it for the crucial moment of actually firingóa work in progress.




    I did manage to bag another roe deer as I walked on, probably my most straightforward kill, to be honest, a sign Iím advancing that I can even think of it as straightforward, but mostly I was thinking about a place to rest.



    I set up a tent just before I came to the corn fields. I knew Iíd have to wait for the right time to get the fallow deer in those fields for Gerlinde, and if Gerlinde was right about the fields being abused it should be a rich hunting ground, so, the tent serves two purposes. First off, if I discover the deer come to the corn fields at certain times I can rest in it until itís time to hunt. Secondly, if I need to get to the fields in a rush I can run all the way to this tent, then recover inside it without looking like a sweaty pillock and without alerting any animals nearby.



    On that map you can see a road running to the west, by the south of Gerlindeís marked out area. At the path running south off that thereís an outlook. A few more of those discovered, and some more points of interest, and I figure itíd be enough for Conni to trust me with the antler rattler. Itíll show Iím at least willing to put in the leg work.



    As I walked I scanned the corn fields. They were certainly more open than anything else Iíd seen before which presented me with a new problem. Where once I had to worry about a clear line of sight, now I had to worry about getting close enough, or my scope not being powerful enough.

    I knew Iíd need the antler rattler so it was back to exploration for me.



    And by exploration I mean following along a road. But roads play tricks on my mind. One trick being that I donít particularly like being on them unless Iím exhausted and in need of a rest, another is that animals seem to make mega noise from nearby as Iím walking along them. Theyíre like Sirens, luring me into wasting my time.



    Much like this one did. Or not this one as you can see by there being no animal. So no animal did anything, other than shriek from a distance and get me spending an hour on the wabbit-kazoo playing a song I think Iíll have stuck in my head even at my own funeral.

    What you might notice, although Iím not certain with Daiís GoPro, is that the light here has changed from bright sunshine to a moody evening tone. And I was getting moody, with nothing to show for my efforts.



    Or I would have been if a bored sweep of the corn fields with my binos didnít reveal a whole herd of deer travelling along them.

    Iím still not at the point where I can 100% I.D. a deer from a distance, the kind of quick thought the top hunters have, but after I left my eyes over them for a few seconds I was certain they were fallow deer.



    I picked out the biggest buck I could find and thatís where the new issues started to crop up for me. First off they seemed far away and I had no way of judging just how far away they were. Iíd need a rangefinder for that, or better yet a rangefinder/binoculars combo, but thatís way down the list of items the WildhŁter will allow me to use before Iíve proved myself adept with the basics. Secondly, with little coverage, I wasnít sure how close I could get. This, then, ties into proving myself. If Iíd had access to the antler rattlers I could call the deer in. Sure, the big looking buck might not have come, but I only need two of any of the fallow deer to satisfy the person who was asking me to cull them while Gerlinde is busy writing her book.



    I did try and get as close as I could, but it wasnít far enough.

    I took my shot at the big male.

    I was certain Iíd hit but Iíd been certain about many things before. And even being certain the buck was very small in my view despite the maximum zoom of the scope.



    He came back, which is extremely unusual if youíve actually shot them successfully. I shot again.

    And again.



    All in all I shot three deer, the buck and two does before the herd scattered permanently. I guess with me so far away, downwind, and in the coverage that was already far away they didnít quite know what was going on. Even without antler rattlers I didnít need to keep calling them in (although them being closer would have meant less shots.)



    I wondered how often Iíd actually shot the buck, and whether heíd be riddled with my bullets, but when I examined his body it turned out Iíd only had one successful hit. The same happened with the other doe, one shot and a kill, but I couldnít find the second doeís body for love nor money, and I was certain Iíd hit both.

    I must have spent two hours searching out all three carcasses before giving up with just two.



    I was going to head straight for the outlook post, before hitting the sack, when a roe deer called out from the other end of the field.

    Stupid as I am I took the shot. And being stupid I couldnít find any evidence of her being around.



    What I did find was, or to be more precise, heard, were rabbits thumping the ground in tiny aggression with their big rabbit feet. This seemed to be because they were afraid of my big eejit feet thumping around their burrows.

    I tried to spot them, and I think I got a glance of a few, but it took so long for me to remember I had a shotgun on my back that I realised I was far too tired to even contemplate hunting any more.



    There was only one thing I could do, go to bed, but I can be stubborn at times, and I was getting a little delirious, so decided a mountain walk in the moonlight would be just right for me and Iíd make it up to the outlook Iíd set out for hours before.



    Where I saw sweet shag all.

    So it was with a thick mind, foggier than the fog Iíd found here in Hirschfelden that I made it backówithout incidentóto the outpost Iíd met Dai at earlier. I was planning on a big kip.

    Dai, however, wasnít. Dai, who, somehow, was still there after he dropped off my new GoPro toy (I really hope it works out when you see these images.)

    He explained heíd heard there was a roaring trade in ďGoldĒ standard fallow deer, and Iíd just provided one to the market. I knew little about how these ratings are calculated so he droned on, in that Welsh lilting accent of his, about what each means (true, a droning lilt is an oxymoron, but he somehow managed it.) At the end of his speech he cracked open a beer, and tossed me another, and said soon, if I stuck with it, Iíd be thinking about going for the rare Diamond rating, which would take a lot of hard work.



    It was at this point, after some silence and gulps and now mid-second-beer, that I received a message from Conni. The man who owns a lot of the land on the reserve likes hunting himself, but in particular he likes bow hunting, and heíd set me a challenge; if I was up to it. Harvest a red fox with a 60lb bow.

    I said this to Dai, explaining Iíd just got my first red fox that afternoon. He threw me the third beer.

    He told me he and his buddies were all impressed with what I was doing for my Granda, and it was good I was taking the legacy of what he achieved while hunting seriously; something they never banked on me doing. I was about to explain this was all about me, and not really about my Grandaóa lie, but I didnít want to talk about you, Grandaóbut he shushed me and said, ďIf someoneís building up a speech that ends with giving you a present you keep your yap shut.Ē I donít know how Iím supposed to know a speech is ending in a gift, but I did keep my trap shut; heís old and hunted all over the world so heís earned it.

    Apparently he hadnít stayed at the outpost all day, but travelled outside, picked up more tents for me, and portable blinds, and brought them back in on an ATV. And they were mine to use, ĒJust as long as you keep writing all this up. Itís like weíre living it again.Ē

    With that Dai broke out his hipflask and we passed it around for thirty minutes or so before he admitted heíd been drinking beers since he got back, just enjoying the sounds, and was looking forward to falling asleep to them. I agreed that my head needed to meet a pillow.

    As we said our goodnights the last thing he said was to take things easy, buy myself a bow and if the opportunity presents nail a red fox from one of the blinds he brought, but if he ever considered himself a friend of my Granda then all he wants is for me to get over what he knew had been a troublesome few years.

    Despite being exhausted my mind turned over almost as much as I did that night.

    I think Iíll need a good day, a very good day, to clear my head.

  14. #14
    Mrenda's Avatar
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    Chapter 7

    I woke up after a few hours restless sleep right on the cusp of dawn. I didn’t know if Dai was still around, I didn’t see his ATV anywhere, but with my sleep being so poor I know if he drove off it’d have been certain to wake me.

    I didn’t think of bringing pain pills with me, I had no intention of drinking out here—my usual reason to take some—but I guess it did show a lack of foresight in not having at the least a first aid kit for what is an at-times dangerous wilderness.

    Marching out and up into the hills, then down to the lake or river, a tough hike, would quickly sweat the booze, or its remnants, out of me.



    I had to decide what it was I was going to do.

    There were two thoughts running through my mind. Falling asleep the night before I was certain I was going to head west, to the river, and follow along it hoping to pick up some long-sighted animals I could take down. I even packed up a few blinds the night before thinking I could set up something permanent to shoot from; I was that sure from seeing the roe deer drinking as I marched onwards the day before. Now it was morning, though, and I knew Gerlinde had asked me to take a picture of some fallow deer with the lake in the background.

    It was an honest request, one that would have me standing in esteem with the people here, so that, to me, seemed like the best move. Being honest, right now, I know it was the hangover of all your weird paternalistic, pessimistic, self-built, self-isolating, self-reliance, delusion-of-self self-sense taking over me.



    There were other calls on my time, like hunting a red fox with a bow. I looked through the store to see what was available to me; two 60lb bows, and I couldn’t really tell them apart. I have recollections of someone telling me the Razorback is the better option, just because it’s that half pound or kilo, or whatever, lighter, and it could make a difference when I’m carrying around a whole load of gear trying to meet all the various requests made on me in the reserve.



    However, I had limited amounts of money and knew I had to get the antler rattler if I was to be any way successful with these fallow deer. The problem is the antler rattler costs 6k, the bow another 6k, and then there’d be arrows on top of that for the bow. With all that my finances would be completely cleared out.

    I wanted to, I really wanted to get the bow and go all out on proving myself-to-myself, with a difficult hunt, but your voice reared up in my mind. Telling me not to indulge so much. To take things one at a time and really prove my mettle before rushing headlong into what I want.

    I just bought the antler rattler, leaving the bow for once I’d built up a bit more of my cash reserves. Then I headed off, in the dark soon-to-be-dawn light and began looking for Gerlinde’s photo of the fallow deer with the lake shown behind it.



    I head off in the still-twilight, down towards the edge of the lake, with nothing in sight. No animals were calling and there were no signs of tracks or feed-zones. I guess it was so early the animals could have been resting.



    Down by the lake there were no signs of life, completely unlike my first foray into this area. Afternoon, admittedly, but I was hoping to be similarly blessed in this early morning to counteract the curse of blood vessels of pure rye coursing through my body.

    I continued on with my head pounding and a fuzzy feeling around my brain, not to mention my tongue. I found a few roe deer need zones but my abilities can’t yet tell whether many roe use them, or if it’s just a solitary loner.



    I did, eventually, hear a roe deer call out looking for a mate. Your words again came to mind; set yourself to something and see it through. Whims and fancies come quickly and leave even faster. The real achievers in life know what’s merely a distraction.

    I ignored the roe and headed northwards hoping to find the fallow deer for my photo.



    I headed to the west, up the slope, so I could get a clear view all the way to the lake with the morning basked in a beautiful dawn light.

    There was nothing in sight.



    I went through a small wooded area at the top of that hill and finally I heard a fallow deer calling out. This was typical. As soon as my view is obscured I get a break. Except it’s not a real break because it only came once a new challenge is in my way. Thirty seconds earlier I might be able to see the deer with my binoculars but life isn’t that easy, not for me, or anyone who isn’t you; to be truthful—and petty. But as you say, it’s how life keeps you honest.

    I knew the deer was to the east, but I didn’t know if they were to the south east of the copse I was in or the northeast and it was no time to be guessing but absolutely the time to get out that antler caller I’d worked so hard to prove I was justified in using.



    And I fiddled and fuddled, looking here and there, but there was no sign of my precious, sought-after, expensive caller.

    I’d bought the bugger, set out to use the bastard, but in my fuzzy minded, drinking-with-Dai state I’d completely forgot to pack the rattler with my big brain wail; the one thing I needed to call in the fallow I needed to photograph.

    It was all the way back to the outpost. My whole, patient, past hour of slowly moving, slowly searching had found me no fallow deer need zones, and just as I’d found one fallow deer I didn’t have the bit of equipment my past two days had been focused on getting.



    Once I was back at the outpost I went into my store. And what did I find? Not the antler rattler. Then it dawned on me, after an hour of searching, then an hour of trekking back, I did actually have my antler rattler with me. It was buried beneath my other crud, all re-organised while I got rid of pistols, and thought of bows, and remembered your words about doing one thing and doing it well.

    I looked around for Dai’s ATV then, for him, hoping to blast his ears with my annoyance, but I couldn’t find it.

    I went into his hut, to see if he was still asleep, but he’d already left. There was no-one to whinge to, no-one to release onto, except for you. Except I didn’t do that.

    I sat on the ground—Conni, I you ever read this, your outposts absolutely need a comfy armchair where people can just sit and be at peace, or like I was doing, fume—and my mind ran over all you’d ever said to me, what you mean to me, what you, my Granda, decades older than my father would have been, have done to me.

    I didn’t quite realise what that meant. Eventually I pulled myself out of my funk and restarted my hunt for the fallow deer photo. But rest assured I now know what you do mean to mean to me. I know, at the least, the differences of generations.



    I’m back from the hunt for that fallow deer photo, I won’t tell you what happened, that’s for another update. I do want you to read this, and worry, and steam. Because ho-boy do I have things to say to you, dear Granda. Things I should have said when I had a chance, when it would have made a difference and not damned me to the shit I’m currently going through.

    But I’m just going to upload this and let you worry. It’s coming, I say. I don’t think my mind will change. I will have a nap, maybe. Maybe that’ll make me less angry, but I’m saying now…

    I don’t know what I’m saying other than it’s coming. I know who you are; what you were all my life. I couldn’t say it before but now I’m following your path, the way you went, it’s revealing itself to me that we are very different. You always wanted me to listen to you and that meant I never listened to myself. It meant I could never listen to anyone. Now, for once, you’ll listen to me.

  15. #15
    Mrenda's Avatar
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    You can get this game, plus all its DLC for Ä13 at the moment on Humble Bundle. https://www.humblebundle.com/games/t...omplete-bundle

    If you wanted to save about Ä5.50 the mid-tier deal comes with the Tents DLC (allowing you set up custom fast travel points) which I'd say is the only really essential DLC. It comes with the ATV which other people love as well, and a bunch of other stuff like an African and Russian map, and stuff for hunting small animals.

    It's definitely worth picking up.

  16. #16
    Mrenda's Avatar
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    Instead of making another mistake, and fiddling about with all my equipment, I put my antler rattler close to hand before I headed back out.

    This was after I sat and stayed miserable for an hour. It could have been the hangover, maybe this is all the hangover, but I have to say Iím fucking annoyed. All I wanted to do was reach for a bottle of wineóa bottle of wine I didnít have with me, another stupid decision I madeóget pissed, and run into the wild singing; probably singing made up filth I came up with in my head cursing you.



    After stewing for a little while it was back out into the open, I have to continue donít I? DONíT I? hoping to bag both a photo of a fallow deer, and to harvest it after. At that point, even with the sun rising and the light flowing across the land all I wanted to do was complete my task. To do what was asked of me, like I was always supposed to do.

    Thatís the problem, isnít it? If Iím always doing what Iím supposed to do I canít make it meet up with my own ideals. I canít align ĒsupposedsĒ with my own failure-instincts. Yet you would always force, encourage me most of the time, never indulge me; unless you thought it was cute when my parents were still around or funny when I was with you and Granny.



    Doing what I was supposed to do in photographing a fallow deer I skirted around the westerly forest running parallel to the lake. It wasnít all the way to the west of the area Gerlinde Jšger was happy with but it was the best spot for a sightline to capture the lake in the background.



    As the morning warmed, then chilled, with the weather changing all the time I continued north going through a far-less-impressive-in-the-mist range of trees. I ran across a roe deerís tracks and knew if I was going to achieve what I set out to do Iíd have to ignore them.



    The weather changed again as I kept going north. I headed towards the lake a little to get around an outcrop of rocks when I heard a red fox cry out. It knew I was close. Of course, not being complete in my mind, not fully committing to one thing or the otherónot saying Fuck you! Iíll follow my own path! I thought I could edge my way a little into the forest and keep the clearings in my eyesight for the fallow deer.



    I managed to find a red fox rest zone but I knew, before, Iíd stood around for ages before anything happened, something I couldnít do now if I was going to be focused. My mind drilled, as though pressure was coming for it in a tightening, boring-in, encompassing circle. It was your presence closing in on me, Get on with your task! No time for messing when thereís a job to be done.

    So I did. I ignored the nearby red fox calls, despite it being a time for their need zone and continued north.



    All the way north. Right to the edge of the area Gerlinde wanted me to find the picture in.

    At this point I fully figured out it had all been a waste but I hadnít quite given up yet.

    I made my way back south. I figured the animals werenít by the lake, as Iíd already checked out as much as I could with my binoculars from my clear northerly spot, and decided to see if I could pick up tracks of fallow deer walking to a new destination.



    Halfway back to the outpost I heard a fallow deer cry but wasnít quite certain where it was coming from. Worse was that I was right out in the open so if it came to the treeline itíd see me and spook immediately.



    I crawled into an outcrop of rocks and positioned myself right into their deep corner. The whole time I did this Iíd been racking my antler rattler hoping that if the deer was called itíd have pinpointed the call right to the middle of the field and walk to the spot the call emanated from, all while giving me my photo with the lake.



    I heard another deer cry, coming from the southwest, and then another, as though it was going into the forest. I knew if I was to get a photo of the deer with the lake in the background this was no good. Iíd have to move deeper into the trees to have any chance of making this picture.



    I retreated and about twenty meters behind some trees where there was a rock making a ledge with a view towards the water. I crawled on top of it, all with my antler rattler going.



    Eventually it came. My precious deer that if I was to listen to you Iíd have known was always coming, as long as I put in the work. Of course, if I listened long enough Iíd also know thereíd be some twist to this.

    I snapped the photo and sent it off to Gerlinde hoping itíd be right. That itíd be close enough and even if the lake wasnít showing the correct lake-side terrain and flora would be enough.

    It wasnít.

    Maybe I should blame Gerlinde for that but she set me a simple task I didnít realise would be this difficult. You, however, filled me up with ideas of setting your mind to things and completing tasks given, at the expense of all else.

    Gerlinde was in no rush for this picture. Sheíd set no date for it and would be working on her book for a long time yet, yet my Grandaís voice rings out, doesnít it? Thatís what you do, you cry, ĒDo whatís asked of you!Ē Except I was drinking last night, and all I wanted to do when I fell asleep in that floatey-headed, dreamy state was head to the river to the west where Iíd seen animals the day before. Thatís all I wanted to do, and sober me, or at least hungover me, wasnít drunk enough to ignore your bullshit..



    When the first shot wasnít good enough I took a different kind of shot; out with my rifle, let the animal complete its turn or two, hoping it doesnít wander off, then BLAM! I hit it with a .243 Polymer Tipped Bullet.



    It wasnít the shot Gerlinde was looking for, but to me it was good, if bittersweet. Flesh, lung, liver stomach; my first kill of the day, except it took far too long doing something I didnít particularly want to be doing.



    I walked back, thinking all I wanted was a rest and to finally have some words with you. You might find some challenge with that, me rising up in voice to meet you so you could instead offer wisdom, basically telling me how I was wrong. But instead I heard a roe deer calling and decided to act.

    Roe deer arenít the smartest, they donít earn me a huge amount of money, but even though youíd say nothing is worth doing unless itís a challenge then Iíll say this might not be that difficult but neither was it a guaranteed hit. I still had to work at it.

    And most off all, trying to get that deer is something I wanted to do.



    I repeated my past idea of using my caller, this time the roe caller, while out in the open and then retreating back to the rocky outcrop. Soon the roe deer was in my sights.



    And, you know, Granda, it wasnít even one of the females you call easy, that you feel arenít worth hunting, it was a male. A fine one. And I dropped it. Right on the spot.

    So, you know, fuck you.

    I knew thereíd be bollocks all animals about with my past two gunshots ringing out, but if I headed back to the outpost Iíd still be seething. Which is why Iím writing this in two parts, the first part, Chapter 7, I did while I was waiting for another hunter to bring some supplies to me. Now Iím writing this up with an easing hangover, a little bit more clarity, even if the clarity is wild-sense brought on by a few starting shots of whiskey and as many beers as it takes to type it all up, dear Granda.

    But before then I hadnít decided to order in some booze. I knew I couldnít find animals, so all I could do was walk. Anything to stop the fire in my mind.



    And what did I find on my walk, out on a little bit of land that stretches into the lake, but a falling down castle and one of the casts Conni has me looking for.



    Then it was a quick few minutes back to outpost, emptying my mind in preparation for all Iíd say to you.

    I know youíre dead, Granda. Iím sorry I missed your funeral. Iím sorry I refused to break covid lockdown rules while you were in the hospital.

    I know youíd arranged with your buddies to get me through the controls, and to fudge paperwork, but even though I was in a bad way, maybe partly because of your situation, Iím not going to be the person who expects others to do things they wonít comply with themselves; thatís not who I am. It might be fine for you but I am not you.

    All this morning Iíve had your thoughts competing with my own. Every time Iíve thought of striking out on my own and doing my own thing I had your memories telling me what to do. My history of all that youíve said to me stays long with me. Worse, itís too easy to blame you for everything I do wrong myself. Youíre a curse and a crutch and I canít keep going with them.

    Maybe itís your death, my ignoring you and not seeing you before you died thatís brought all this into focus. I know I had an absolutely shite past two years and Iíd been ignoring you as those months got worse and worse, and Iím to blame for where Iíve found myself.



    Now, itís time to end it. Iím out here, hunting, listening to the parts of what you said that make sense to me. I have to do the things that make sense to me, and part of that is sorting out whatís you, whatís me, whatís my own failingóand goodnessóand what the positive parts of you are that I know are scattered throughout my life.

    I canít keep on like youíre an always-presence. I can accept youíre gone and were a vital part of rearing me. You were the most immediate, the closest hurdle in my life to get over, and youíll crop up again and again, but now, all I can say is I miss you, I really do, and I donít blame you for the way you were made. I do, to some degree, blame how you made me. Now, however, itís time to allow myself make me the way I want to be. And, for the time being, Iíll do that by hunting. I have a long way to go before getting over all thatís happened to me. And I donít know what I will discover other than more wilderness, by more walking through this reserve. I hope thereís more to come.

  17. #17
    Lief Siddhe's Avatar
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    I was somewhere around Old Man Star, on the edge of Essence, when drugs began to take hold.

  18. #18
    The Pube Whisperer Maximillian's Avatar
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    Now we know who really killed Bambi's mother.

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