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The sharp crack of my rifle going off always surprises me, loud and violent it is startling when compared to the pop of bird loads in my 12 gauge. I’m sure it’s a matter of what we are accustomed too, naturally I shoot my shotgun a lot more in a fall than the 30-06. Outside of the range where I have hearing protection on, a busy hunting season with the rifle is maybe two or three shots, whereas a day grouse hunting often produces more than that in a couple hours. After two months of deer hunting and not pulling the trigger the report from the 30-06 is a disturbance to an activity that demands the utmost in being silent.

Quiet is one of the many reasons I hunt, in a busy world surrounded by unnatural noise and distractions the silence of the woods grounds me. The need for silence hyper focuses our attention down to the finest details, watching where you place your foot or brush your arm against a branch. The easiest tactic to reduce your noise is taking a stand, something that doesn’t seem as popular with the local blacktail hunters as it does back in Ontario where I grew up hunting whitetails. With the onset of the migration and the up-coming rut I’d reverted to my eastern methods; sitting on my ass in promising areas watching the day unfold, the pay off was hours spent watching blacktail deer do what they do undisturbed.

The sharp reverberations of the shot quickly died away as silence returned. The buck lay lifeless as I sat watching, going through the regular emotions of sadness that come with killing. Having been sitting quietly for six hours watching a group of five deer, the sound of the rifle had almost been offensive. Sporting a set of five inch spikes it took me almost ten minutes to decide that I really wanted the venison in the freezer. It would be a lie to say that I don’t love big antlers, but that is not the reason I hunt and when I finally walked down to the spike there wasn’t any regret. The silence of day felt natural as I pulled out my knife and started the cleaning process.

See you on the water or the mountains.

-Matthew Mallory

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