By Cody Altizer:

For the majority of us, deer hunting is our lifestyle, not our livelihood.  Most hunters I know are okay with that, because they don’t want hunting to be their job.  I’m the same way.  However, regardless of which career path we choose, ultimately, we’re going to end up having to sacrifice stand time to do that work.

With that comes life’s stress, the daily grind, financial problems, relationship issues, family troubles, etc.  The list is long and diverse. Stress is a constant. Unfortunately, though, there is little we can do to combat those annoyances, except take a deep breath, close our eyes, exhale, and…

You’re in the stand.  It’s the first week of November and with temperatures in the upper 20s at sunrise, frost blissfully dances in unison with its partner and enemy.  It’s been quiet so far, but suddenly you hear the unmistakable sound of two deer crashing through the woods.  Instinctively you hold your breath, squint your eyes and turn one ear in the direction you first heard the sound.  A doe and a buck.  A good one too.  She’s prancing through the woods with little care in the world.  She’s in heat, but at this point she’s just teasing her suitor as he gasps for breath behind her, leaving a vapor trail in his wake.

You don’t even have to look through your binoculars to determine this buck’s a shooter.  He’s a got a heavy rack, yes, but it’s his attitude that sells you.  He’s pissed off.  From fighting, no dominating, his woods from inferior bucks with lesser genes, to having to chase the object of his desire through the woods in broad daylight, this buck is tired and frustrated. With a powerful neck that looks like it could snap a fence post in half, this buck is mature from head to toe with a forehead stained nearly black to his tarsal glands seemingly dripping with testosterone.

The doe carelessly leads her boyfriend down a trail that will take them both right past your stand at 23 yards.  With your bow in hand, you ease up out of the seat in your treestand and clip your release on,  all in one motion.  He’s at 30 yards now and clueless to your existence.

He’s slowed down now to a stiff, straight-legged walk, giving you time to calm yourself, but in turn his senses are heightened.  However, he’s so intensely focused on that doe, it would take a trained killer to break his concentration.

That’s you.  The second the buck walks behind a giant oak tree, you instinctively draw your bow.  An act that’s so simple, yet at the same time is also pure, animalistic, and artful.  His vitals clear the tree; you whisper to yourself, “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  Somehow, he hears you.  Locks in on your position, and for just a millisecond, you make eye contact.  Then you release…

Catharsis is defined as a release of emotions, primarily through art.  Argue with me if you wish, but bowhunting is an art form, no doubt about it and it is a release.  The above sequence of events was entirely fictitious (at least to me), but it’s a story that I believe all hunters can relate to.

Further, if we dig a little deeper, the feelings and emotions described are something all outdoorsman can relate to. This release, this purification, this renewal, this art.  Just recently, I had the opportunity to put together a short film with my buddy Whit Lacks, an Orvis Endorsed fly fishing guide.  Our goal was to tell a story similar to the one I shared with you above, but from a fly fishing perspective.  Below is the final result.  I hope you enjoy it, but more importantly, I hope it’s something you can relate to.

Catharsis from Cody Altizer on Vimeo.

– Cody Altizer,