High Hunt Field Notes

My perspective has been reframed by a set of sorrel ears.  Everything is better with a horse.  I have ridden Resero every single day since we arrived in this basin and assembled the tipi.  Last night after riding, I untacked him, put him on a long lead, sat down in the grass with a book and let him graze around me — a casual togetherness in a beautiful place.  Every now and again I spooled him up, spoke to him softly until he dropped his head and muddled my fingers with his lips and then with the comfort of closeness to him, I settled back into reading and the last warmth of the sunset.  I am charmed by him when he is aloof, when he’s being savage and sensitive and without confidence, when his head is up high and his eyes are focused on something distant and futuristic in the sagebrush and he is completely unaware and uncaring of me.  I am charmed.

I have been passionate about horses since I was five and I figured out how to overturn a grain bucket and scramble up a white mane onto the warm back of a palomino.  I have ridden all my life and sought equine companionship as often as possible, leaning and reaching over barbed wire fences for soft muzzles on country roads in different states where withers and swaybacks matched the curve of distant ranges.  It’s only now, now that I have him, that I can say I am officially a student of the horse.  I study him with a curiosity that is as wide as these Idaho valleys and every detail I learn about him and his kind is like a white mountain looming up before me, an exultation of illumination.

Day by day I learn the power of his mortal being and the curious workings of his mind.  His essence is complicated because a portion of him belongs to the wind and so he remains, at his very core, ethereal and ever changing.

I can call his gentle warmth the zephyr.  I can call his changing from coldness into warmth, his softening and resulting calm, the chinook.  I can call him tempest, gale, squall, breeze and when he moves with strength and confidence, I can name him jet stream.  But no matter the shape he takes in any given moment, he moves with a freedom and power, no matter how strong or weak our connection in any given moment.  Though I am with him, though I ride on his back in a way that renders us dependent upon each other, we remain separate until I channel him to such an intensity that our passage through space is effortless, my communication invisible and his responses become the definition of fluidity.

His very self is utterly natural, who he is today may not be who he is tomorrow.  Yet, he is true to who he is, moment by moment, so that every bite of grass or breeze-braided piece of mane is God given, humble and brimming with quiet destiny.

He is simple.  He is true.  Being with him makes me wonder about my own homeostasis.  Who am I when this spinning world sets me down in silent rest?  How far or close am I to my intended self, the beautiful design of my God-hungry spirit, the unfettered cloak of my crackling soul (in me is a flame that requires no fuel)?

When I step forward through the sage, I, too, am all the names of the wind.  I shuck the four walls that seek to bind me, the pressures that attempt to define me in a singular way, the crush of the things that hope to press me into being one thing, but not another.  I look out, I turn in place, I see four directions and I set out into space.  I am free to move fast and to rise in the gloaming so the sinking sun becomes my halo and I am rich with the gold of the world.

This is my house, this crown of peaks in this gaping wilderness.  I forget where I come from.  I can’t recall where I’ve been.  There is the spin of cycles and seasons — moon, wind tides, blood, breath, earth spin, sunrise and sunset, planting and harvest, the headwaters of a river, the holiness of the springs as they pour forth from stone.  Every blade of grass rises up in worship.  Every living thing sings praise.

The material of life recycles itself in infinite ways and I watch the rotation of elk into wildflower into river riffle into exhaling trout into riparian zone into bear tooth into mule deer whisker into me.  And more or less cosmically, in me there is the very life and death of the innumerable cells that build and bind my body together, the everturning wisp of a thing in me that shines outward to illuminate beauty and understanding and closeness to the eternal so that everything I encounter is as large and as small as a burning star and a sage leaf, thrumming and holding steady through the span of time.

 

Diana Ring

To dwell in the high country and in the sacred woods!

I’ve had this series half-on and half-off the bench for the better part of six months.  With the hunting season fast approaching, I decided to finish this prototype today.  This is the Diana Ring, as in Diana the Huntress (also known as Artemis).  It features a bi-layer design in heavy sterling that depicts a bull elk wreathed by nimbus and a broken arrow.  I’m looking forward to making a few more of these and perfecting the design.

+Diana+

+The Sun+

+The Moon+

+The Hunt+ 

Edge Season

7I9A98657I9A9880 7I9A98937I9A98957I9A99117I9A99327I9A99377I9A99807I9A99457I9A01057I9A00327I9A01627I9A01357I9A00897I9A01967I9A0216I really like the weather in these edge seasons of high desert Idaho when the air and wind are deadly cold but the sun is gaining strength and heat — the feeling of it all pressed up against my cheeks while we are out hiking or running is simply one of the best feelings of all.  To be kissed by the sun and cut by the wind, simultaneously.  There’s nothing like it.

We went out yesterday under such a magnificent sky.  It gets foggy in the high desert during the winter months and the mantle has lifted!  We’ve been gifted with such bright days this week.  There’s a sense of coming alive all over the land.  The deer are beginning to drop their winter burdens.  I expect to hear a meadowlark any day now — last year, around this time, I heard the first one in the sagebrush above the riverbank here.  They always signal a seasonal shift for me.  I cherish their music.

I can sense it all stirring, waking, rubbing at sleepy eyes.

Along the roads and deer paths I run, the sage is coming back, fragrant and soft.  I run my hands over it as I pass through it and then lift my fingers to my face and breathe a little deeper.  Is there a greater, more soulful scent than the sagebrush of the interior West?  Maybe the perfume of an entire slope of wild rose in bloom.  That’s lovely, too.

Rob is starting early season work in the southeast (Arkansas, Tennessee, et al) sooner than ever this year.  The off-season seems to get shorter with the passing years as he goes deeper and higher with his job.  We’re savoring our last moments together as a little family before the fire season busts us up for a bit.  And no, we don’t know where we’ll be living or where I’ll be working or any of that stuff.  As usual.  Being a firewire is to exist in a kind of information less purgatory; I live a very last minute life.  But we always prevail and something pseudo-suitable always turns up in the way of housing and studio space.  I’ve quit worrying about it.  Things will shake out how they will, they always do.

I have enough projects and travels to keep me active and busy this spring (I cannot wait to share some of those details with you), but I’ll still miss Robbie when he goes.  We’ve done a lot of growing and shedding of old selves this winter.  All the change and growth has been rooted in truth, in realizing the things about our individual selves that we’d like to work on, and then simply working on those things and rewiring our hearts and minds, dropping bad habits and lighting new fires in our hearts.  I’ve loved this winter.  This winter with him.

He’s been building me a hotbed!  It’s kinda state of the art, you’d expect nothing less from him though, would you?  I can hardly wait to get it planted.  I have my seeds coming in the mail as I type this.  Maybe they’ll arrive today!

 

 

Around Here

7I9A70617I9A7912 7I9A79077I9A7079 7I9A70837I9A70977I9A7203 7I9A7235 7I9A7286 7I9A72977I9A71787I9A7830 7I9A78627I9A8146 7I9A8148 7I9A8152 7I9A81577I9A80877I9A79397I9A6638 7I9A6680 7I9A6737 7I9A6759It’s difficult to believe that it’s only been winter for a couple of days (officially).  The times here are finally quiet with a sense of steadiness and lack of rushing, which is how I always think the end of the year should play out.

Quiet.  Introspective.  Cold.  Steady.  Restful.

Before all things begin anew.

 

 

The Frank Church

Most of you now know I spent ten days in the heart of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness of Idaho on my elk hunt this year.  I want to share the images from that trip with you in this space and if you’d like to read a bit about it, you can proceed to the Danner blog where an essay about the trip is currently published and I have some of my field notes and images in a secondary post over on the Western Rise blog.  Additionally, if you are following my Instagram account, I have posted portions of my field notes from the trip in conjunction with a few images from the trip in my feed.

I photographed this hunt in an official capacity for both Danner as well as Seek Outside and it was so much fun to blend work with play with the insanity of a backcountry high hunt.  I’m still very happy with my work from this trip (so are those companies) (yay!).

This is one of the most amazing trips Robert and I have ever taken together.  I hope you feel the wildness while you sift through these images.

Also, I am aware that many of you do not hunt and probably wonder things about hunting all the time!  I encourage you to ask any questions you might have in my comment space!  One of the reasons I photograph and share stories about hunting big game and upland is because it’s what I have always done here — lived my life with conviction and shared what I am learning.  Also, I feel we live in a political and social atmosphere that is anti-omnivore, anti-firearm and anti-hunting.  I share because I want people to know the truth — that there is a way to take life, so that you can live, that is full of beauty, respect, love and holiness.  I am interested in clearing up any confusion there may be on the matter by educating folks as best as I can.  I am interested in changing hearts and minds on the matter.  It will be my pleasure to answer your questions as best as I can as well as bust any myths you may have been fooled into believing.  Inform yourself and the make up your own mind on the matter!  In the meanwhile, let me answer any questions you may have on how hunting legally works, how to get tags, general rules and regulations…ask away!

As always, huge thanks and love to Robert, for doing such a great job of teaching me how to hunt and how to hunt well (and there’s still so much to learn).

Lastly, please note:

There are a few images of a dead animal in this blog post since I had a successful deer hunt instead of a successful elk hunt — I feel these are beautiful, truthful images which is why I have shared them here.  My goal is not to offend your senses.  We hunt to eat.  If you are intolerant of firearms, omnivores and the practice of harvesting wild, clean meat from wild, clean lands please do not leave me nasty, judgmental comments in my comment section in an attempt to publicly shame me for my life choices.  Instead, please feel free to send me a respectful, intelligent email regarding your concerns on the matter:

thenoisyplume@gmail.com  

Thank you kindly.

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