About The Author

Kim Hiss, an associate editor at Field & Stream, has hunted ducks, antelope, turkeys, and deer throughout the country, enjoying a number of women's hunts along the way. She lives in Dobbs Ferry, New York. Click here to email Kim.

Powered By:

January 2009

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Syndicate this site

 Subscribe in a reader

Add to Google

Add to My AOL

Add to Technorati Favorites!


« Casting Call | Main | How's Your Season Going? »

November 04, 2007

This page has been moved to http://www.fieldandstream.com/blogs/fshuntress

If your browser doesn’t redirect you to the new location, please visit The FSHuntress at its new location: www.fieldandstream.com/blogs/fshuntress.

Everyday Enlightenments

      So here’s a topic suggestion from reader Wanda Hyleman. She sent it recently, and I thought it was a good one.
      But before I let Wanda take the wheel, I wanted to let you know that I was hoping to name another gear recipient this weekend, but unfortunately haven’t yet heard back from the winner I’d chosen! Hopefully I’ll hear soon, and when I do, she’ll be the last winner before the giveaway goes on a break.
      Anyway, back to Wanda’s topic. She included a number of thoughts with it, so I’ll just get out of the way and let her spark the discussion. –K.H.

      I was wondering about your most enlightening moment in the woods—sort of spiritual. When you experienced something so eye opening that it made you realize there is no place in the world you would rather be but in the woods enjoying nature.
      I was deer hunting once in an open field, and decided to sit in a brush pile. While there I saw a huge flock of blackbirds landing in the far end of the field, and they all would fly up together and go back down. They did this several times, and as they got closer to me, I was thinking, I know they have to see me. But they didn't, and as they flew over me and I could hear the sounds of their wings, it gave me such chills. Mind you this was a flock of about 200 birds, and they were right over my head—I’ll get chills even now when I think of it.
      Don't know why it came over me so like it did. It just made me realize lots of things that day—like I would have never experienced that had I not been in the great outdoors, had I not been open enough to accept the invite to hunt, had I not been brave enough to go alone the many dark mornings that I have gone. I feel such peace walking to my stand in the dark. I guess that's what it's like to be at peace with yourself. I have chosen that hunting is now a way of life for me and I surely would not have it any other way.
      I was just wondering if anyone else had experienced anything like that in the woods. -Wanda Hyleman


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Everyday Enlightenments:



Wanda, I love your topic idea. It seems like there is at least one of those moments bordering on the "profound" every time I go out. More often even, it seems, when I am out with only my own company and nature's.

My most memorable moment was last year on my first day deer hunting alone, and my first time bowhunting ever. I worked so hard to get myself ready by learning about the area and reading everything I could get my hands on about deer behavior,proper shot placement/etc. The woods were pitch black that morning and it was about 19 degrees and I have to admit I was really spooked out by the dark. I heard stuff everywhere and was just totally jacked up on adrenaline. I was ground hunting that morning, and eventually found a spot to hunker down in and wait.

(Warning: this might be pretty corny.) Almost as if nature herself was "rewarding" me for my preparation and patience that morning, I heard this raucous cavalcade come moving across the crunchy, frosty forest floor AND STOP NOT 40 YARDS FROM ME! (ohmygodohmygod please don't be a pack of ravenous coyotes!) It wasn't yet legal light (kind of a treat in itself because all I was able to do was watch and absorb). I could mostly just see a mass of bodies, however, there was one alert buck that I could see highlighted by what light there was looking right at me. He stood broadside to me, stiff with his head up and turned in my direction. He was so beautiful and (being very inexperienced in deer hunting) and his "presence" and posture were exactly what I had always imagined in my mind's eye when I wondered what my hunts would be like. For a few moments he stood there, and they were off in a flash.

I was so overcome with the emotion of my first experience and feeling "connected" (and having no one around to act "tough" in front of), that I just started bawling. Writing it down now and sharing it in its tangible form is quite a selfish treat. Great toic again!

Happy hunting.


Spiritual moment...moving moment; moments for chills or tears; even being able to talk about it makes me happy to be amongst us, the women hunters of this blog :)

The horror of death and terror wrenched me from a nightmare at about 4 a.m. I felt SICK with remorse but stumbled about in the dark and was in position by 5.

Predawn cold tore at memories of the night's dream where I was 1/4 mile above the Rain Drop Bed and Breakfast, just over the hill from where I'd lived for years. It was owned by a gentle hippi couple, Tara and Charlie, and their vegetarian caretakers, Jason and Star. I remembered my rifle shots; their shouts of fury and rage; tears. I shrunk from their indignation and judgement as in my dream, I sat on that mountainside in a pool of blood, an animal peeled open around me. Dead. I was harvesting a nontypical buck, my first ever. I felt embarrassed and incredibly cruel under their judgement...

The fog of recollection was pushed away by the sound of truck hunters pulling over, slamming doors, crumpling candy wrappers and hocking loogies. Dispirited both by my dream and the hack hunters making their way towards my hidden position, I slipped away, further into the mountains.

After tracking in the frost awhile, I sat downwind and across a ravine from a doe and two fawns. Seven months earlier, an 8,000 acre wildfire had ravaged that mountainside, turning it into a molten red throb in the inky black of night. The new brush was succulent with new growth and the deer were pleased as pigs in shit to hunker there all day.

I decided not to hunt that day, but instead to just watch them. The nightmare faded. Opinions on hunters, wandering thoughts of work, lovers; expectations of meat and great stories- all it disappeared. That afternoon, Genevieve was nonexistant, just a part of the pulse of the foothills of Colorado on a late Indian summer day.

It was a surreal one. Bare-eyed and with binoculars, I watched as they shifted positions, sipped at nearby water, or nibbled a bit and rested more. Shadows slowly crept from right to left. Magpies and crows, their wings feathering through air, seemed louder than traffic. Grass hoppers, their colorful Tiffany bodies illuminated by autumn gold light, aroused even me as they pumped and made love on a blade of dead grass. Contrails miles above us made so obvious the separation between Daily Life and a hunt.

So many hours later, as the sun hinted at its eventual descent and the deer became restless, I too felt the urge to move. I wanted to see the rest of the valley awaken from a sun drunk slumber and move about in its search for food and water, exercise and eventually, bed time. I was by now feeling quite unhuman, more animal too, having been so connected to moments and events so naturally real. I was aware.

As I came out of the mountains, the Rain Drop B&B popped into view. I saw Star and Jason walking their dog on the ditch road. I became "Genevieve" again, in my camo, with all my hunter intent, and bearing a rifle, a weapon of "death" in their eyes. My nightmare came rushing back. I watched them walk below me and felt the unreachable distance between me, a hunter, and them, vegetarian, new age hippis.

My hunt for the day over though; I was thinking of dinner and the jazz I would go listen to later that night. I turned from Jason and Star and made to step forward.

NO WAY! Readers, I shit you not: there in front of me, 15 yards away, stood my nontypical.

The right antler was so skewed I couldn't make sense of this "thing" at first. It came down across his cheek and ended in front of his mouth. I looked at Star and Jason, throwing a stick for Stozzy, clueless of me above, or the drama unfolding. I was in a state of frikken shock! I lifted my rifle and settled my cross hairs on his face, unsettled by my night terror, by the buck's appearance; by the kids down below me. By how bizarre his face and antler looked!

The buck just stood there, looking at me. “Shoo!” I whispered. “GO! Go away!” I lowered my rifle and stomped towards him and he twitched a little, but didn’t move.

After 5 days, this was my first shot at an animal that season. I charged him, forcing him off. He stood 50 yards away, looked at me over his shoulder, made a wide berth and slowly trotted around me, up into the gully.

And he was gone. My first nontyp. My first shot. I watched Jason and Star call Stozzy in and disappear into the folds of valley near the B & B.

Tomorrow, I would hunt the other side of the valley instead.

You know, I could never believe or make sense of the whole damn thing- the dream, first of all. Why such a horrible nightmare on something I loved? And why Jason and Star and the B & B just over the hill, past which I had walked or jogged almost everyday for three years...And a nontypical? How did he move from tragic moments in the subconscious of a sleeping hunter to dusk on mountainside?

I've told few people that story because it won't mean as much to anyone but me.

Every unfilled tag was failure to me in the beginning. An elk or deer in my freezer was my power to provide and succeed in Natures cycles. That afternoon, the belief system of others was important to me too, even if it was contrary to mine or meant no food for me. I still felt the day's hunt a success.

Sarah Rogstad

Just this weekend I had a lot of thoughts going through my headas I sat in the woods. My Mom is dying of cancer and I all I though was how wonderful it would be for me to come home and show her my prize of the year and share my joy with her. I was just amazed at the the woodpecker just sitting in the tree next to me and working away for his dinner like I was not even there.
Thank you so much for the great blog.

Laura Bell

Great idea! And great experiences!

I've had lots of stuff that leave a memorable mark in my mind, and I can't imagine what would hunting be without these happening.

My most recent would have to be from this years Spring turkey season.
I was hunting with a friend, we were after a big bird that eluded my dad and I's calls so our friend stepped up to help me bag this big one.
The bird did as he pleased and enticed us with coming in only so close and then leaving suddenly. Finally this one morning we thought we had him. We called in the morning darkness and he answered. Soon the sun brighten the woods and he flew down, across the woods away from us and never called back. We thought our hunt was done for so we walked in the direction he went. Boom there he was! Not 40 yards away strutting for the girls! We ran back about 20 yards and jumped into a mud hole or sorts, best cover we had (puts a new meaning to ground blind). I've got my gun resting on top of the mound of dirt surrounding the hole and my friend is ducked down in it and starts calling.
I hear them crunching the leaves coming closer. Finally I'm able to see them cresting a small rise in the woods. Jakes, the big one is hanging back. I should mention we have a hen decoy like 2 feet in front of me. Them Jakes see it and keep coming, but I know the big one is right there too, so I hold my fire.
They keep coming.
Soon they're right next to the decoy!! I could have poked them with the gun! They were oblivious to me right there and I'm shaking like a leaf in a tornado! My friend is right behind me chuckling a little bit because of my shaking, still them little boys were looking at the decoy.
My friend lets out a light yelp and the biggest Jake, gobbles.. well tries to. He threw his head but what came out was more of a cough almost, LOL he just couldn't get a gobble out! Sounded like a bad attempt to gobble using a box call. Slowly they filtered back the way they came and I was left birdless that day. But that was definitely something else to see and hear!


I often hunt alone during the week, grabbing a couple of hours in the morning before work, and again in the afternoon after work. To be hunkered down in a blind or in brush and to experience the woods waking up all around you is such an awesome experience. Just this past Saturday after I came in from my afternoon turkey hunt, one of the archers at camp was whining because he didn't see a deer and asked if I saw anything. I said I saw the most beautiful sunrise this morning and a breath taking sunset tonight. If I saw and was able to harvest a turkey that would have been an added bonus, but I was thrilled with what I did see

Ida Mae

My most enlightening moment happened to me last year during gun deer season. To start, last fall I was taking a class for my Outdoor Recreation Major where we had to choose a book from the professors list to read. I chose Aldo Leopold’s Sand County Almanac. I had never read it and for some reason it sparked my interest. It was an amazing work of writing and I finished reading the book just before the opening of deer season.

This particular deer season was looking like a challenge for me, the day before the opener I was scheduled to have carpel tunnel surgery. I was bummed that I wouldn’t make opening day, but I was still determined to make it out the second day. My dad helped me get everything together and we went over how I was going to manage one handed. The second morning rolled around and we piled into the truck around 4:30 am. I was in extreme pain from my decision not to take any pain killers just so I could go out and hunt.

I finally struggled my way out to my stand with the help of my dad and got settled. It was a perfect fall morning as the sun came up casting a brilliant light over the fields. I sat for about two hours with out seeing anything. Finally from out of the cornfield came a striking doe. I was mesmerized at first and then fussed with my gun to get it up and aimed; one handed. I got one shot off and watched her jump. I then realized that the one thing we didn’t cover was how to pump my gun with one hand! I had to put the rifle down, hold it with my arm and pump with my right hand. By the time I was ready to shoot again the doe was gone. My dad called me on the radio and said he’d be over in a few minutes to help me look for her.

When we finally got out to look for her there was no sign anywhere. We called it off and stood silent at the end of the field. For some reason my mind floated back to an except from “Sand County Almanac.” “When our rifles were empty, the old wolf was down…We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes.” I don’t know why I thought of this or why it happened at this time but just as my mind was wondering my dad elbowed me and pointed to a rather large buck scampering across the field. In one swift motion his gun was up, aimed and fired. It was such a smooth reaction and almost magical that I just stood there and watched him. The buck was down and we wandered over to him. We approached him just in time to see that fierce green fire dying. I stood there watching his eyes, oblivious to anything around me. The impact of seeing the green fire die was unexplainable. I don’t know why, but I put my hand on his head and whispered, “Thank you.” At that moment I knew there was a reason I didn’t hit the doe I aimed at. I knew what Aldo Leopold saw and felt. I knew there was more to hunting than I had known. It was the most powerful emotion I’ve ever experienced while in the field.


I've had a couple of rather "enlightening" experiences this year.

One was earlier this season. My husband and I had just gotten permission to hunt a private pond which the owner said had a lot of geese, mallards, and "mud ducks". We weren't exactly sure what a mud duck was, but were guessing that he might be referring to wood ducks. It looked like a prime spot for woodies.

The first time we hunted there was in the evening on a nice sunny day, which usually isn't so good for seeing ducks. We sat and just watched the redwinged blackbirds flitting around and we were lucky enough to watch a rooster pheasant fly across the pond. That was unexpected to say the least. However, we didn't see any ducks. But it had been so peaceful just sitting and "being one with nature" that neither of us really cared. Sunset came, and we unloaded our guns. I started to pack up what little gear we had brought and Joe was heading in the direction of the canoe to pick up dekes. All of a sudden, we heard a strange "jee-ing" noise that just filled the air and the whistling of wings everywhere. Here were our wood ducks. They came buzzing through the trees, looking like fighter planes darting between the limbs. There's no way to describe it other than they just swarmed over that little farm pond. I had ducks flying eye level less than 10 yards in front of me. There must of been 50-60 ducks! It was just a jaw-dropping, heart-pounding, awe-inspiring experience. Joe and I are both new to duck hunting this year and neither of us had ever seen anything like it. All I could do was praise the Creator for the wonderful experience. We left that night without firing a shot, but we certainly didn't stop talking about it the entire way home.


I have two things I wanted to share. First was my first Turkey roost my first season:

It was 5:50 p.m. on a Saturday and I went to the area I was going to hunt the next morning. Remembering what my husband had taught me, I snuck up terrace and glanced over. I took my binoculars and scanned from one side of the pasture to the other and back. As I started to put my binoculars down and walk over the terrace something caught my eye. Smack dab in the middle of the field just on the other side of a high terrace just cresting the top was about 4 inches of the top of a gobblers tail fan. My heart near about jumped out of my chest. I backed down off the terrace and hurried down the length of the terrace to the row of planted pines that run down the side of the pasture.

Right there like a grand marshall of a parade that Tom strutted his stuff. I got chills it was so awesome. He would poof up, slowly march almost in place real methodically. His caruncles were candied apple red and had a sky blue section on his head and a bright white head crown. He was so round when he strutted, he looked like a helium filled balloon. He turned to the right then slowly to the left. The copper from his wings shining and the gold of the tail coverts flashing. He would come out of full strut into a half strut, march a few regular steps then "POOF" in all his grandeur like a float in the parade--turning ever so slowly to the left then to the right. Finally the hen that he was putting this show on for topped the terrace and grazing along the way, not paying the first bit of attention to that Tom, headed for the tree line about 150 yards away to roost. This went on for about 20 minutes.

When they went into a area I could not see from where I was at, I backed out and went down two terraces and came in along a tree line. When I got within 50-60 yards from the point, I crawled to about 15 yards then slithered to the point. I didn't see them because they were down on a lower terrace but I heard the Tom drumming. My husband had told me about this but I never heard it before. It was awesome. Again, I got chills. I laid there on the ground about 20 minutes. The hen finally flew up. I didn't see where she lit because I didn't want to move in case the Tom was right behind her.

About another 10 minutes passed then the Tom took flight to the roost. I slithered forward to see if I could tell where they were roosting. But decided just to be happy with knowing what area they were roosted in. I backed out along the tree line and because of the area from the end of the tree line back to the trail leading to where my truck was at was visible to the roosting area I decided to wait until dark to creep out. While sitting there my eyes welled up because I was so excited to have witnessed what I just did and to have roosted my first bird, by myself.

I wish everyone could witness this, even if they have no intent on turkey hunting--the interaction between a Tom and hens is so different than watching the interaction of deer, coyote or other large animals. So much more animated and methodical. WOW, is all I can say. I felt like a pre-school child on the first day of school when the teacher opened the box of crayons and poured them out for the first time...WOW!!so many colors.

Another "wonder" to me is how early in the morning while waiting for the sun to crest, sitting silently, listening to the day wake; a bird here, a crackle of bark there, a snap here, a grasshopper chirp there, there is a certain moment when the ground opens up in just a pop of a moment and it sends chills through your body. It doesn't last long... just long enough to make you feel chilled...then it is gone.. and the sounds get louder and the sky lighter and the sun rises.

I experience this in both deer season and turkey season and can honestly say I can count on one hand with digits left over as to the times I did not experience it. I call it the "switch flipping moment"--the moment God flips the switch to turn on the day.

Dana @ The Wild WoodsWoman

This is such a great topic - everyone's descriptions are so vivid!
My enlightening or "wow" moment came when I was out in the woods to scout and pick up a trail camera. I didn't have any camoflage on, just street clothes. As I meandered along, I stopped by a wild grape vine, heavy with the purple treats. I stood there for few minutes picking and eating grapes in the pre-dusk light. I heard a slight sound that caught my attention, like a swishing noise in the tall grass field behind me. I glanced over and saw...nothing...must be the wind. A few grapes later I heard it again. Swish swish swish. I looked over my shoulder and saw...the biggest buck I've ever seen in the wild...walking toward me! I was paralyzed with shock and awe and fear. It. Looked. Huge. It was obviously in rut with a swollen neck. Every story I've heard about deer attacking people flashed in my head. Even with that fear, I was transfixed by the sight.
He slowly walked through the golden grass, walking on a parallel line that would take him about 15 yards from me. He only ever glanced at me and kept on coming step after step. But this wasn't the WOW moment yet. That happened when he got about 20 yards from me, which brought his head, antlers and shoulders above the skyline. Behind him was a full moon shining bright white in the odd purple sky of pre-dusk light. That moment of the buck and moon is a snapshot in my mind that I'll never forget. More beautiful than any picture in a magazine could ever be.