I suppose not many folks would expect someone into writing fantasy books to be an avid outdoors man, but I at least like to think of myself in that light. While I have never (knock on wood) been seriously injured by man or beast, my gallivanting often does have a Mr. Bean quality to it- which may seem more appropriate. Allow me to explain with a story:
As you may know if you’ve been following the blog I’ve taken to hunting now that I’m settled down in the ol’ USA for good. My goals this season have been to get either a black bear or a good sized buck- eat them, and make them into a badass cloak. however, any of you folks out there with experience parenting a tiny baby can appreciate that the time commitment required for this endeavor is as precious and hard to come by as mithril in Hobbiton.
Finally, one morning I heard a faint rustle through the trees and caught a fleeting glimpse of black fur. Hefting the same Civil War era musket carried into battle by my Union ancestors I advanced on my quarry, trying to flank it to get a clear shot. Suddenly, as I crept around a huge old oak, we came face to face- not 20 yards from each other.
I quickly sited down on the bear, only to see it burst into motion as it charged . Something was wrong about the way it moved though, it was too fleet and absent were the lumbering movements I had expected. In the split second I had to consider my next move, I got a flash of its young face and pulled the trigger sweeping the weapon to the side!
Being a blackpowder musket, a great crack rang through the forest and a sharp tongue of flame poured acrid smoke into the trees. My aim at a dead stump was true, and I quickly dropped the clunky old rifle and drew down on the bear with my pistol.
My gamble paid off, and I could see over the dull black slide of my weapon that the baby bear was running off at top speed. As the adrenaline rush subsided, I was filled with disappointment. I had hoped to encounter an old 300lb fighter, lord of his realm and a worthy opponent (not to mention chock full of bear-burgers). Instead I had encountered the bambi of the bear world, cute as a puppy dog and about as threatening as a stuffed animal. Now, with that said, he was probably a good 80 lbs and I would have had to shoot had he not turned aside, but it would have been a sad day.
There no good whatsoever that can come from hunting this guy:
But then it occurred to me: he will remember! He will remember my scent, my profile, and the danger behind the terrible thunder of gunfire. He is not a worthy opponent now, but perhaps one day- when he is 200lbs heavier and a battle-scarred survivor- we would meet again! Truth be told, I really hope he turns into a bear like Mor’du from Brave:
Encouraged that I might look forward to many years of hunting my new bear nemesis, I marched back down the trail towards home. About half way back, barely visible through the near-dark of dusk, I saw movement on the trail. Whatever it was, it was bigger than a rabbit and definitely non-human. I drew my pistol again and approached carefully, trying to make out the finer details of the creature ahead. When I was able to pick out a rudder like tail I grew excited, thinking it might be a beaver- and I did happen to have a permit for one.
As you can see, it was not a beaver… it was a hoary old porcupine and he had set up a defensive position directly between a cliff to the east and slope down to the river on the west. I had seen a friend’s dog chock full of quills when I was a kid and had no desire to find out what it felt like myself. I fired a warning shot. The stubborn old bastard turned slowly looked me in the eye; he held my gaze and emitted a low chittering sound. I don’t know what it meant, but I can’t imagine it was complementary. I fired another warning shot. Ever so slowly, as if to show he was unafraid of my puny attempts to intimidate him, the porcupine moved to the side of the trail.
Given his bravery under fire (and his absolutely massive ball size) I have named the porcupine Phalanx and appointed him as my hunting mascot. We have actually run into each other two more times since that first day, respectfully moving to either side of the trail as we pass. Probably not the ideal definition of harmony with nature, but I’ll take what I can get!
With the Holidays approaching, my hunting days this season are numbered. I may get out there one more time before Christmas but we shall see. Between the military industrial complex and my family, time will be precious indeed in the coming weeks.
I do have one other piece of news-the Disorder of War: Book I eBook will be on sale for $0.99 and £0.99 respectively from December 24th though the 28th in the US and the UK. Look out for features in Bookbub (UK), Bargain Booksy (US), and FKBT (US). Thank you all for your support, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Eid, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year!