The Ritual

Hunting for most is typified by the classic experiences we seek out: bugling bulls, fresh tracks, finding that big buck in your crosshairs or finally putting your hands on the animal you have been chasing all day, week or season. These are those vivid punctuations that dot our stories while we are out in the wild, and those that get the most attention. But I find that many times, it is the more subtle moments during a hunt that stand out and endure along with that perfect shot, a short bloodtrail or a notched tag.

One of these “in between moments” that I always look forward to is a small ritual I do in antelope country. Sage is a very common type of flora in these areas, and its smell is so unique and linked to antelope hunting for me that I would feel lost if there were none. My custom is to pluck a small bunch of sage leaves and crush it, and smell deeply from my cupped hands. The earthy, herbaceous smell is powerful, and is part of my self-imposed good luck trick. Without it, I don’t think I would have as much luck on my side; at least that is my take on it. It is my version of a rabbit’s foot. It is completely ridiculous, but for me it completes the experience.

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