I can’t quite decide what’s bothering me more—being surprised by gunfire in my own “backyard” or feeling the presence of an intruder into what I now consider “my” land.
I was walking behind the pond, only for a minute, when the shots rang out. And although I anticipate the start of deer season when the weather carries a chill, it always startles me when I hear the shots. Memories of a story from my youth of a woman who was killed by hunters because she wore white mittens… mistaken for a white tail… remind me that I should be wearing blaze orange, even now, as I walk my trails.
From just ahead of me, a beautiful buck suddenly bounded from the cover of the woods, almost into my path. Across the pasture, seven more--does, ears sharply tuned to the direction from which the commotion came, heads held high searching the horizon for danger, clustered together on the hill, flushed from the meadow. It seemed they must’ve been aware of my confusion, too—for there we stood, sharing that moment of terror, realizing how vulnerable we were, to a danger unseen.
I dropped to the ground—partly to be less of a threat to their path of escape, partly to save myself. The woods were no longer a sanctuary. The birds had become still.
I darted back to the house, grabbed binoculars, car keys and my phone, --and set off to plead common sense to whoever it was, at that moment, who was demonstrating none.
Our woods back up to a church field, accessible from the road just around the corner. And as soon as I pulled into their lot, I saw my target. Probably not demonstrating the best sense either, I slipped the car into park and jumped out—slamming the door to announce my visit, and charged purposefully across the field.
“We was just shootin’ into that there sod pile." A man and his 7-year old grandson stood looking at me quizzically.
Maybe it was the binoculars I was madly waving at them, maybe it was the crazed hair just pulled loose for a nice evening walk. But it must’ve been evident to them that I had clicked into defensive mode.
I looked to the branch of the pine where my barred owl sits, surveying the field…
And the clearing, where my deer rest in the afternoon…
And the sky…
This was my land, our territory, and they had disrespected everything special about it.
No person shall do any of the following:
Discharge a firearm on a lawn, park, pleasure ground, orchard
or other ground appurtenant to a schoolhouse, church, inhabited dwelling,
property of another or charitable institution.
Whoever violates this section is guilty of
discharge of a firearm on or near prohibited premises.