This following essay, by Lloyd Romanello of Parma, Ohio, portrays the personal meaning behind the wilderness experience. Short, sweet, and laden deep with words unwritten. Some personal introspection on Lloyds words will uncover much more than a description of a hunt.
Copyright Lloyd Romanello 1999, All Rights Reserved.
I had planned for some time to take a week's vacation and head for West Virginia to visit my parents. And also, to do some bow & arrow hunting and enjoy the out of doors.
It was mid-October and the mountains and wood-land sure was beautiful, the air was fresh and crisp. The hunting season opened on Saturday, and I bow hunted most of the day. I saw lots of game and had one shot at a running deer, but missed. I also saw an albino Chipmunk which was really something to see.
On Monday, while hunting, I jumped a large flock of wild Turkeys that scattered in all directions. An hour later, while on a deer stand, I heard some Turkeys calling. After listening for a while, I decided to try and call them up. I had no turkey call so I used only my mouth for sounds. To my surprise, two turkeys came within thirty feet of me. I arrowed one of them. It was my first wild Turkey kill.
On Wednesday, I hunted again, seeing plenty of game. I got a shot at a Deer. It travelled faster than the arrow. In late efternoon, I saw a deer feeding about one hundred yards away. I made my stalk to within thirty-five yards. I put an arrow through the Deer's neck. He went ten yards. I then had my Deer.
My mother cooked the Turkey along with some other game, and it was some mighty fine eating. After spending the rest of the week with my parents and enjoying life and the great out of doors, I returned home.
It was surely one of my most exciting and favorite vacations; one I'll always remember.
|Copyright Lark Ritchie 1999, All Rights Reserved.
Lloyd's story has all the elements that define the culture of the hunter. West Virginia, if you know Lloyd, is home. But 'home' in much more than a street address, a lot number, a number of acres, or a concession road.
West Virginia, to Lloyd, is a state of being, immersed in the timelessness of experience. It is a an experience of living history, of mountains and family and friends and images. If you know Lloyd, or you've heard John Denver's song of West Virginia, you'll understand the love of the country called West Virginia. The images that each portray, are images of what we call culture. They are more than scenes, or events. They are of deep and personal life-experiences intertwined with the land, the people and tradition; a tradition that includes hunting.
Home to a hunter, is the land. It is early morning, shrouded in mist, the first rays of sun, and the promise of the land and the universe that today will be a good day. Maybe bountiful, or maybe not... but, nonetheless, a good day to be alive.
Lloyd, in his story, was heading home to the land and to his parents. A mini-reunion that allowed a reconnection to life and values that can only be fostered in the crystallized formations of sun, water, land, and people. That crystallization happens in the mind of an individual, and can be recognized by others of similar mind and experience. And Lloyd was going home to re-enact traditions and express his culture. If for no other reason than to be true to his own self and his personal history. He was headed out to experience the beauty of man and nature, of son and parents, of hunting and celebrating the relationship of man and the wilderness, and the bounty that that interaction provides.
Interspersed in Lloyd's hunt story are the images that have remained long after the actual events. The retention of these images in a person's memory and stories serve to illustrate the ranking, priority and value to that person. They are important in telling, because they are what were truly the important events; those that are left after the smaller details are winnowed. A lasting vision of an albino Chipmunk, a running deer, a hunter. A flock of Turkeys, roused, exploding into flight, bursting to all directions. The sound of wings and calls, and underneath it all, the awe of the experience. The essence is that of awe. Of wonder, and of, if you know Lloyd, reverence.
Lloyd's story also serves to illustrate another facet of the hunter. The search for knowledge through experience, through experimentation. In a hunting stand, the hunter hears the happenings, in this case, the Turkeys, and ruminates these experiences in a very analytical way. If you know Lloyd, or other hunters like him, they will, time and again, relate stories of how they came to know what they know. Those knowledge sets are expanded either through sharing knowledge, or through personal initiative; through an expanding of experience through trial and error; a gradual building of a knowledge base. It has been happening since the first hominids gained awareness on the savannas of Africa. It continues today. It is part of our essence. It is our Nature.
In his story, Lloyd experiments with 'Turkey communication' and at some point during that episode, he understands the interaction beyond the making of noises. And with that new knowledge, adds to his repertoire and skills. In traditional values, he has become a more effective hunter, a provider of food, and ensurer of survival. These are criteria for success, key results indicators, KPI's, performance indicators of the last generation. They are the values of a culture, with a tradition that goes back not hundreds, but millions of years. They are the traditions of the Family of Mankind. And they are practiced to day by hunters the world over. If you know Lloyd, then you know what this acquisition of the Turkey call means in his life history. And to hunters everywhere, it is recognized as a graduation. A personal rite of passage, experienced alone, in solitaire, with his partners, the Turkeys, and Life's creator.
The story holds yet another transition, another graduation. That of the taking of the Turkey. If you know Lloyd, you would know that this was a life-significant event. It was the certification, the degree, the testimonial of proficiency of food-procurement. It was his first Turkey Kill. He says no more. It is told in matter of fact terms. "It was my first wild Turkey Kill." No self glorification; no "Wow! Was I great!' Just that it happened, and he had moved on...
Tuesday passes in his story, uneventful. Not because there was nothing to tell, but because it would have been repetition. And a good story-teller knows not to repeat. Beauty expressed once, does not expand when retold.
Wednesday is eventful, because it tells of the struggle towards achievement of the original goal. To take a deer. The first Deer jumps the arrow, probably due to the sound of the release. No success. Then the second opportunity. And a stalk. And if you know Lloyd, the stalk he made that day, would have truly been the stalk of the hunter; slow, studying the Deer's ears, head movements, deciding when to move, and when not to move. It would have been the stalk that ensured survival; of meat on the table. The stalk of a hunter, intent on doing it right. And if you know Lloyd, the second shot was deliberate, evaluated, and released with confidence. He took the Deer. No other comments. "I then had my Deer." No other search for gratification.
The story ends, as most hunting stories do, with the bounty of the hunt. It is integral to the hunt, as it is to the story. It is where the hunt, the animal, and the hunter enter into an immortality that lasts beyond the day, beyond personal life. It then enters the cycle of tradition, another story that holds the meaning and experience intertwined with the warmth of a Mother's cooking, special and wonderful smells of dinner, and smiles of enjoyment at a family table.
If you know Lloyd, then you know what it means to be a hunter.
Lloyd Romanello passed over April 3, 2001. His family and friends were with him in his final hours as he passed over. He wrote his story when he was a young man. He kept these values all his life.