Deer Antler

“Immerse yourself in the outdoor experience. It will cleanse your soul and make you a better person.” Wise words from the late Fred Bear. Words that are relatable to any outdoor enthusiast, or individuals who have tasted the unforgettable feeling of relishing their experience while in the outdoors. Ben had such an experience when he was a young boy around the age of 9 years old. It was mid-September, the air was briskly cool. A welcoming sigh of relief from the blistering summer months. Ben had traveled with his father down to a family property in the central part of the state. Their purpose for going was to get out, hike, and find the elk that were immersed in their yearly breeding season called “the rut”. As a young boy, Ben was thrilled with the fact he was to be hiking in the wilderness and watching these magnificent animals. When they arrived at their destination, it was decided that Ben would go with his Grandpa hiking and looking. At this point in time, it was a decision he was not happy about. Ben grew up a shy kid with a sense of comfort to stay around his parents. The thought of being alone with his grandpa scared him. A thought that many would consider a blessing. Majority of us who have had that gut-wrenching feeling of longing to see our grandparents who have passed on can certainly relate. Even though he wasn’t happy about the decision, Ben reluctantly went along. Little did he know, he was about to create a memory he would remember for the rest of his life.
It was late afternoon when they decided to make their way up the mountain. Grandpa was blazing his trail up the mountain with Ben trying to keep up. Even though he was in his mid-sixties he could sure climb a mountain like he had a little bit of mountain goat in him. Ben would often stop to catch his breath and hurry as fast as he could to get caught back up with him. To Ben it seemed as though they had been hiking for hours, but, in all reality, they had only been hiking for 45 minutes. As they crested the top of a draw, the unforgettable sounds of the bull elk bugles rang from the draw below. Ben was fascinated with the sheer power of the sounds coming from the bottom. What kind of beast can make such a majestic sound? Ben and his grandpa decided it was best to sit where they were on top and watch from there. As they sat down, Ben gazed in amazement of his surroundings of juniper trees and oak brush. He felt as if it was a different world out there that not many people have a knowledge of. As he stared he noticed two sharp white points sticking up out of dirt and branches not more than three feet from him. He reached out and discovered a deer shed antler buried right there in the earth right next to him. He was ecstatic! Not only was it just Ben that was ecstatic, but his grandpa also shared the same emotions. It was a moment Ben was able to share with his grandpa he is sure to remember. Flooding with excitement from his find, Ben didn’t notice the herd of elk that had come out of the bottom of the draw and heading right for them. As he finally noticed the herd, Ben noticed the towering antlers on top of the bull’s heads that resembled the same material as the antler in his hand. The elk continued working their way towards Ben and his grandpa. Soon they were within a rocks throwing distance. The bugles grew louder, their smell had become so thick it could be compared to smelling gasoline out of a gas station pump nozzle. Then the unthinkable happened, crash!!! Right in front of them, a battle ensued between two bulls. Fighting for breeding rights within a harem of cows the two bulls fought fiercely, snot blowing from their nostrils, antlers clashing back and forth trying to break free to puncture its opponent. Ben watched in amazement as these two bulls fought for the span of a couple minutes. Eventually, one of the bulls succumbed to the opponent and broke off running from the sharp tips of its opponents antlers.
Ben, holding tightly to his deer antler watched as these magnificent animals moved their way up and over a ridge away from him and his grandpa. He suddenly heard his grandpa’s voice say, “makes you wonder how many fights that antler of yours has been in huh?” To Ben, the reality of what he was holding had come to light. He realized that this antler could be considered a symbol of life to these animals. They fight off predators, fight each other for breeding rights, and scrape through snow in the tough winter months searching for their next meal that will keep them alive, all with these antlers. It’s such a simple object, but such a powerful object. This antler has continued to be a symbol of what could be for Ben. Now, those years have passed he continues to look at this antler that reminds him of what could be. As a human race, we were once on the same playing field as these animals. We had a purpose in life of creating offspring and surviving. Thinking these thoughts have continued to keep Ben humble because you never know if there will come a day when we are living strictly to survive.

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