Sendero Luminoso. < lit., Spanish for Shining Path
While filming a hunt for the Record Book Project, my soul brother, Jeremy Harrill, and I were able to roll tape at the legendary Tecomate Ranch in South Texas. The sovereignty of the moment came to down to the last evening as a really nice 10 pointer emerged in the sendero. My heart rate cannoned. He was not the largest whitetail I've ever taken, yet, even still, my eyes were wide because I knew I was about to pull the trigger on closing out this piece of the project.
Once the smoke cleared, my eyes spoke with disbelief. In more than most of the cases like this I see antlers on the ground when my muzzleloader explodes. On this cloudless evening, all I saw was Texas scrub brush at the end of my barrel.
I was honestly sick at my stomach. I had no idea as to what the deer had done post-shot, for the thick carpentry of limbs and thorn structure that line the senderos had swallowed up any chance of even getting a glimpse of him. I felt as if I had miserably failed the team, my guide, my camera man, his church, and everyone who'd ever given to support The Record Book.
Bruce seemed all week to be an incredibly patient man. Calculating. Cautious. Introspective. Our guide for this hunt, he was a man who had quickly proven himself to be in it for one reason ... to help us turn the page on this part of the story.
Finding only two dime-sized spots of blood, we decided not to push it. Now I was spiraling off into the worst abyss known to every big game hunter; that moment when you know, based on past experience, that odds are you've seen the last of that set of antlers.
Sitting speechless and staring into the night, as we were about to go back to the lodge and review the footage, Bruce comes to the truck. Every great guide knows this is not the moment to say much of anything to your hunter. Leaning just inside the threshold of the window he looks at me and communicates simple and precise words of encouragement telling us that the fight is far from over with finding this buck.
It was the most classy thing I've ever seen.
52 yards in and seven minutes later into the thick country, I hear Mark, one of the Tecomate guides yell out, "We've got a dead deer over here."
Bruce firmly extended his hand to congratulate me. Having now run the entire fly wheel of human emotional consumption, I knew I could do far better than a hand shake. Reaching out to hug him, my Montana brother said "I'm not much of a hugger." "I don't really care, Bruce" were the only words that rose up from my heart. Hunting camp or not, surrounded by men or by no one, I was hugging ol' Bruce for he had guided me with excellence all three days.
Some paths in life are clad in cactus and dust that tear your world apart. Some are laced with moments of indescribable joy. I had experienced both in a matter of three rotations of the clock. Bruce, and his brotherhood of guides, were willing to settle for nothing less than illuminating the path for my journey, in order that they might be their brother's keeper.
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. - Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
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