A Mid-Winter Trough

James Schneider sets about trying to break the spell of winter gloom and a run of bad luck.

It was mid-February and spring was nowhere in sight.  Admittedly it was a grim time to be about sporting.  With the promise of the New Year faded and Valentine’s Day just past, the rest of the world was well into ski season and the prospect of making a connection appeared low at best. 

MidwinterMuntjacAnd while enthusiastic, I admit I was down.  Three times down.  Going out was a chore; no luck, no magic, only disappointment.  The very elements seemed to be working against me.  It was like I couldn’t hook up if I tried all the tricks in the book and confidence was low.  Meanwhile, the rain continued falling.

(Left: At last the spell is broken with a nice Muntjac Buck) 

Voluminous tomes of my hand-written poetry kept the fireplace alight as the weather raged and I thought about possible reasons for my present stupour.  Blame wavered between SAD, England Rugby and the horrible effects caused by Global Warming-Cooling-Climate Change-Weather Change-Pending Ice Age-Magnetic Field Flip-Hunting Ban as espoused by the BBC.

Clinging to hope, I returned to the special place where I’d seen her once before.   It was still and quiet and then from nowhere she appeared, standing in a golden mist warmed by the morning’s rising sun.  Her gaze was nonchalant, her mood curious.  As she observed me her rich gray-white coat was obscured by the swirling wisps of moisture rising from the forest floor.  I steadied myself and took a breath.

The crack of the rifle brought me to my senses and from the moment of firing I knew something was amiss.  Instead of the definitive thump from impact I found myself watching a group of fallow run off while smoke rose from my moderator.  The sonic boom echoed as the round met a soft wet backstop to the left of the beast, confirming the miss.  What had happened?  The chase, the dance, the final close…everything seemed so right?! 

Midwintermuntjac1I had been spurned again, a fourth occurrence in as many outings.   This, the only missed shot; twice previously by horrible weather with nothing about and a third where I foolishly stumbled over a pair of roe does as if I were a stalking postulant.  My frustration had been building and was now combined with general winter malaise.  I was soon seeking guidance to right-side my fortunes.

(Right: James' weapon of choice a Weatherby Vanguard MK II in .308 Calibre)

Upon returning from the field, I sought counsel from my Cerva Sensei Mr. Peter Jones.  The diagnosis was clear.  Call it what you want, but the bottom line was I had lost my swerve, was in a slump and needed to snap back into form.  The remedy prescribed was for a time of deep reflection at the Marlborough where I was to contemplate his insights, the best of which included; no jabbering, stop snapping twigs and don’t botch the shot.  It was all very heavy indeed.

After following his advice and swimming in Pride, I resolved to break the spell.  Determined to get on with it, I returned to the ground two days later prepared to sit for England until a deer was grassed. 

Swilling black coffee and cranking my Tony Robbins CDs to 11, I arrived well before first light and slogged through a wet morning to the chosen high seat.  A torrential downpour greeted me upon being seated as the Fates tested my resolve with another onslaught of damp and cold.  But alas, Tony’s neuro-associative conditioning had my mind in a happy place and I was going to avenge my 4:30 AM revelry.

Gently the rain cleared and the morning light strengthened.  Humidity was high, the moisture hanging thickly in the air.  Dripping water sounded throughout the undergrowth and birdsong began.  The setting moon in waning gibbous appeared from behind the gray clouds and blue sky crept forward.

To my right was movement, a muntjac buck rambling down the trail at speed.  I quickly positioned in the high seat, assessed the backstop and cleanly dispatched with a shot to the heart at fifty yards.

Success!  A perfect cull.  I let out a sigh of relief and felt the weight lift from my shoulders.  I was reborn and exhilarated; just minutes ago I was the worst DSC Trained Hunter ever to set foot in a wood and then BANG and I was BACK!  In an instant I had gone from a decision to quit the sport forever and take up Curling to a conviction that it was time to refresh various pieces of kit and investigate a new rifle for the Roe Buck season.  The winter blues shaken away, hope springing eternal.  It was good to be alive!  

NB James wants to assure us that he actually doesn't own any Tony Robbins CD's - In fact he does...and very much worse besides!

To read more from James Schneider follow this link: there-ll-be-days-like-this

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