My start to the new year was not something to be desired. I woke up New Year’s day with the flu. I stayed in bed all day and watched the snow falling gently outside my window. I love walking when the snow slowly drifts down. But not that day. That day I tossed and turned and moaned. But the day before, on New Year’s Eve, now that was a different day altogether.
Mike had gotten the flu the day before and was still recovering so Angie and I decided to go for a walk. More like a hike, actually. I choose Kettle Moraine State Park Southern Unit.
The temperature was in the upper twenties. Nice and cool with the sun peeking out behind forming cirrus clouds. A light dusting of snow covered the trails. Frost coated the trees bare branches glistening in the sunlight. As the day wore on the frost turned to gleaming water droplets. Wet tree trunks stood out from the backdrop of the frosty branches sporting patches of mossy green. Some oak trees held fast to last fall’s colors leaving bright patches of burnt orange. Angie and I hiked almost five miles climbing and descending the glacial hills. It was a most glorious time. With one possible exception.
“Look at all these cars,” I said to Angie.
Angie sitting in the car seat next to me like the little human she thinks she is, turned to look at me with her round yellow/brown eyes.
“Yeah, sure. Let’s just get going,” she seemed to say.
I smiled and patted her chest. When we got out of the car that’s when I heard it. Gunshot. It was hunting season. I hadn’t even given that a thought. I am not a hunting fan. In fact, I don’t like it at all. Were all these cars for hunters, I wondered. I let Angie out and hooked her up to her leash as gunshots fired all around us. Another car pulled in and I watched as two men got out and walked towards the trails. They were runners.
“They’re not even wearing hunting colors,” I said. “What do you think Angie? Is it ok to hike or will we be shot.”
We started on the trail and a lone runner was headed in my direction.
“Hey, did you see any hunters?” I asked as he trotted past me.
“Just a few over towards the far end.” He said jogging backwards.
“Thanks,” I called after him. I made the decision to go for it even though I didn’t bring our orange vests. Angie had her pink coat on and I had a red hat. That should be ok. Shouldn’t it? We would just stick to the trails. I noticed most of the hikers and runners were not wearing blaze orange either.
And so we hiked. I took pictures up the ying yang marveling at the beauty around me. At last, I ran into a group of five hunters all wearing orange from head to toe sporting huge rifles. We greeted each other as we passed.
I couldn’t get over how their orange clothing stood out in the forest. If I didn’t think about what it was they were there for, it was almost part of the beauty. The next hunter I saw I decided to take his picture and I did just that.
“Got your picture.” I said to the hunter standing in the path ahead. “Want to see?”
“I’m very photogenic,” he replied smiling.
“Oh, yeah,” he said as he looked at the screen on my camera. Just then there was gunshot close by. I jumped and said, “Oh my”. We looked at each other briefly.
“Well, Goodbye,” I said shrugging still not acknowledging his gun or hunting at all. I got a few steps away when I heard a walky talky crackle. I turned around.
“Two hikers coming your way” came a voice.”
“Thanks,” said the hunter into what looked like a cell phone. “We keep track of hikers,” he said to me. I grinned and gave him a big enthusiastic thumbs up.
Even though I don’t like hunting, when I encountered hunters on my hike I didn’t give them my opinion or tell them they should leave Bambi’s mom alone. I respected their right to participate in the activity of their choice. I don’t have all the answers. And I am certain that I would not make a convert out of any of those hunters anyway. They in turn respected me. No one talked with me about hunting and they took care when hikers were around. And I saw that the hunters were not angry because hikers were all over their “hunting ground”. I think this is a fine example of peaceful coexisting.