I read a thread on a hunting forum I frequent that talked about spiritual rituals that take place when you take an animal in the mountains. It was a good thread with many posting thoughts and rituals they perform after a successful hunt. This caused me to think about my successful hunt this past Saturday when I took my first deer ever. Here is what I wrote:
I took my first buck ever yesterday while hunting with my 10 year old son. It’s nothing for the record books but a simple 2 point, however I couldn’t be more happy with the harvest, the accurate shot, sharing the experience with my son and how it all went down.
My Weatherby .270 with the Burris 3x-9x was a present from my father when at age 16 (21 years ago) I achieved my eagle scout award. I hunted with it for a few years in Oregon but never had the chance to harvest a deer or elk for that matter. After moving to Utah for school it saw a handful of hunts, again unsuccessful ones. Then I took a few years off from hunting big game and after getting into bow hunting this year for elk I opted to get a rifle tag so that I could take my oldest boy with me.
After I took the shot the snow started coming in pretty hard so he and I hurried through the quartering and getting him ready to pack out. As we worked I talked with him about the respect I had for this animal and how we needed to take as much of the meat off the mountain that we could despite a 3 mile hike that awaited us. As we shouldered packs to leave, I offered a prayer of thanks that seemed only natural for me to do at the time.
Now after reading this thread I’m reminded of the ritual my father once told me about that his father and his father before him had done – to paint your face with the blood of your first kill. My grandfather was a good friend of the Indians in Canada and this was passed down to my father. I recall as a young man looking forward to that first kill and painting my face with it’s blood.
I am a little remiss that I had forgotten about this yesterday. But after reading the posts here I’m very inclined to return the skull and bones to the mountain where they belong, rather than tossing them in the garbage. I grew up with a father that taught me respect for animals, particularly those whose lives were taken by my father’s hand. I didn’t do any sort of ritual yesterday but if nothing else I do hope that my son will not soon forget the respect I spoke of and showed to the deer that will provide a number of meals for us this winter.