Packing Out

I sat quietly in the rain for a while, looking at the animal and being grateful. It’s humbling any time an animal presents itself to you, but this presentation—walking right up on a resting animal, to within fifteen yards, in the driving rain—went beyond humbling. I considered my great fortune again, thanking the woods and the animal itself, and then sharpened my knife and set to work preparing him for the next phase of the journey.

I considered building a fire beside which I could warm myself from time to time, but decided against it; it was only early afternoon, and though it was still raining, I could see the fog of the valley floor five miles away, and I knew that only one mile away there was the narrow brushed-in thread of an ancient logging road, which after another mile would widen out into a more recent road, which had been closed with a gate to provide wildlife security from road hunters. I could clean this elk and still be out before dark, which came so early now.

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