A Hunter's Fire: By James Bullman
In our 21st Century world, our homes are mechanically heated and controlled by apps on our phone. A fire is no longer a necessity for an overwhelming number of humans on earth. But at this time of year, for me, it is fire season. I’m not talking about the horrific disasters going on out west or the quaint fire in a living room fireplace.
We’re in the final weeks of deer season and well into duck season. I’m in the woods and it is cold. A fire now means either I killed a deer or I’m cold-as-hell and I need the heat. Either way a hunter’s fire is not a trivial thing.
A hunter’s fire means warmth, light, and shelter. More importantly, at least to this hunter, a fire burning bright in the cold and dark woods right now means a nostalgic independence that carries the responsibility and joy of killing the last deer of the season. My harvest is hanging in a tree not too far away and a few special cuts are roasting on my fire while friends circle around for the story of the hunt and a bite of the results.
As most hunters know, being in the cold and dark woods in the middle of the winter with a fire burning bright and meat roasting that we harvested ourselves is not just a cute scene, but an important touchstone of a free life that we seek to live. In that moment that we listen to the semi-wet wood crack and pop, and our harvest glistens while being lapped from the flames, there is this moment where we hunters current and past are connected by the heat and humility of seeking an independent lifestyle where our success or failure rises or falls on our preparation and a little luck.
This hunter’s fire today means success in the woods, but just as easily it could mean a quick refuge from the weather. Regardless of our late season success, a hunter sitting around a fire looking in at the captivating flames and glowing ambers is a tradition that connects us to our past and drives us to future efforts. As I enjoy this flame-roasted venison, I’m filled with a warmth that runs deeper than one guy in the woods. This fire. This hunter’s fire will sustain me while we enter the cold and dark days of the off-season. Until next season, stay warm and stay free.