Updated: Oct 5
I'm going to set the stage. It's early November, 6 a.m., and the dark of night still lingers in the air. I haven't been out as much as I'd like, and today's the day. The pace is calm and intentional. Thermal underwear, check. I zip up my camouflage jacket and have beef jerky from the local store ready in my pocket. I lace my boots. My mossy oak toque is pulled down over last night's bed-head. I approach the case, unlatch the sides, and lift the top open. There she is. A newly replaced D-loop & fall-away cord, peep sight perfectly adjusted, all hardware tight. Cams marked with precision and the broadhead arrows are lying in wait with anticipation. Wrist release to the side.
You feel more like a man when you pull your bow out of its case. There's a responsibility that comes with it. Holding it, you know that it was made for you to take a life, at your hands, to provide for your family and friends. I walk toward the door. It's a brisk 37° Fahrenheit as I step into the outdoors. Condensation is collecting on my mustache and I can see my breath hanging in the air. The leaves crunch under my boots as I take one step at a time towards my goal. The darkness of early morning is slowly fading as the day breaks peacefully. As I trek on, I take in the freshness of autumn in Northern Michigan, reminding myself of why I love the outdoors & the state I was born in.
Birds are chirping & there's the rustling of a red squirrel slightly startled by my presence in the distance. That's when I noticed him. My heart skips a beat. He's beautiful, his grayish-brown coat with white markings. His ears perked up in my direction. I can clearly see all 10 of the immaculate points on his antlers. The arrow is already in place, I lift the bow and draw the arrow back to my cheek. My sights are on him. Time sits still for what seems like an hour, with only a moment passing. I release, and the arrow slices through the air...
“The hunter that travels out into the woods is lost to the world, yet finds himself.” -Author Unknown
With the sound of a dull thump, the arrow hits its target. It's the perfect shot. Right behind its front leg, just above the elbow. With precision through the lungs. Excitement is flowing. Anyone with hunting experience will tell you that at this moment, a number of things can happen. But today, this perfect White-tailed buck just stands there, unfazed, blankly staring in my direction. As the shock & gratitude for making such a shot with my first arrow of the day wore off a bit. ...I walk over to the plastic target buck and retrieve my arrow. After a few more target practice shots I call it a day.
I've never actually been a hunter. Some vermin here or there, but not your typical backwoods Northern Michigan boy. Now I know I took you on a ride there & threw you for a loop. But stick with me for a minute. I have a message to share about my recovery journey. I didn't go to an inpatient treatment center or detox facility when trying to crawl myself out of my life of actively using. I found the freedom of recovery through an intensive outpatient medication-assisted treatment program. In the recovery community I'm a part of I took a different pathway, than many, out of the life of addiction I was living. Much like being a local Northern Michigan multi-generational resident who doesn't hunt in a community of people who consider hunting a norm for people my age.
I'm drawing the conclusion that there are multiple ways to enter recovery from substance or behavioral addictions. Just like how I can be content buying my groceries at the local store, while my neighbor chooses to hunt to feed his family. I urge anyone searching for a pathway into recovery to really search as many ways possible while "seeking help". If you're like me and get overwhelmed in that process, please never hesitate to reach out to organizations like 217 Recovery for help finding a pathway that works for you. You may need to try a few, and that's okay.
Thank you for reading.