The snow was already knee deep, and the storm was intensifying. This would be a hard winter and he knew that if they were to make it through they needed food now.
Needing to catch his breath, it was fortunate that he noticed the fresh tracks in the heavy snow just ahead. There were deer nearby and the lack of snow in their tracks meant they had just wandered through this opening moments ago.
Even the deer weren’t traveling far with all of this early snow, and he knew they’d be back through soon. He hoped. If not, it would be one more day with no food for the family.
The season was winding down, just a few days left, but this early blizzard left most in a bind. Roads were closed, stores were closed, jobs closed. It was a loss that many hadn’t felt the sting of in years, if ever. But he’d been through it before.
Hunting had long been an enjoyable pursuit each fall. A way to enjoy himself, a reason to get outdoors. But this year that skill would prove to be essential to his families survival.
He knew they’d be back.
Gripping his rifle, he quickly and quietly brought it to his shoulder and as the buck stepped into the clearing before him, trudging through the belly deep snow, he fired.
Normally the impressive antlers would have been reason to celebrate a successful season. Now they were a welcome handle to allow him to drag the deer back home. As they always used to say, you can’t eat the horns.
He wouldn’t throw them away, no. They would be saved as a memory of how his family survived this brutal winter storm. But for now they were simply a handle to grasp as he dragged the deer back home so he could butcher it.
It wouldn’t last forever, but he was a big deer with a lot of meat. He would allow them to survive if they were careful. But tonight they would eat.
He smiled to himself as he dragged the deer through the snow, imagining the joy on his kids faces and the relief in the eyes of his wife. For at least one more winter, he had proved himself useful.
The hunt for survival is a fictional story created by David Szweduik. All photographs created for the story by David Szweduik and may not be used without written consent.