For generation after generation, children have walked the woods with their family, young and old. All things in this crazy world we live in took the day off when we went hunting. Boys became men, out walking the woods and the girls walked right beside them, often gun in hand.

We feel a kinship with those we hunt and those we hunt with. The best can feel a buck and I imagine he does as well. The buck can feel those hurried beats of a man's heart. We both know it is "game on" and I imagine he likes the chase as much as I do.

The big buck knows these woods and the scent of the old hunter. He has sensed the powerful heart from a good long ways away. The old hunter walked those woods, all year long, trying to figure out the trail he left for him. That old hunter, it seemed, spent most of his time in the woods and he wasn't always hunting.

The good hunters could tell you which way the wind blows when weather is changing and how scents could be smelled by the hunted. However, that old hunter could tell stories that made you laugh and think and realize the hunt wasn't really about the end game. Like life, it was about the journey and the game played by the hunter and the hunted.

Sometimes getting out in the woods was the only way a man could breathe. The world had gotten crazy and far too complex for a man who rose before the sun and rarely stayed up past eight. He drank his coffee, said a prayer for Bev and started thinking about bucks and long ago grandfathers. Those memories made him realize the size of a rack made little difference when you were talking about living and dying.

Every year, folks all full of themselves, went looking for the King. They talked of nothing but getting King. By Sunday night, those weekend hunters would be talking about next year as they put their does in the back of the truck. Grandpa said if you listen late at night you might hear King enjoying the hunt. Grandpa said King deserved to die of his own making with his own god. That was how much respect he had for the King.

He took a deep breath and remembered how much of the time he spent with his grandpa just talking. He tried to get his boys, Jim and Bob, out when they were young, but he never quite had the gift of stories like his grandfather had. His heart sank when he heard about the school shootings and he could never understand what causes men to do what they do.

The phone rang and the old hunter knew the best part of his day had passed.

Merl Hanson,

Winona