The saddle creaked and groaned some as he slid his foot into the stirrup, lifted himself up onto the horse, and slung his leg over the saddle. The old buckskin mare exhaled a bit and tossed her head to one side and then the other as he adjusted himself into the saddle. He took the reins into his left hand lifted them slightly as he looked out over the pasture. He reached up, pressed his straw hat down on his head slightly, separated his lips, and made a clicking sound as he gently nudged his heels into her side. “Let’s go Whiskey,” he said lightly as the mare started to move forward.
The view was breathtaking and he could not help but wonder about the people that had seen this 100’s of years before him.
As they headed out, he looked up towards the beautiful blue sky and the puffy white clouds that seemed to dance around without boundaries. He could not help but think about how beautiful they were and how peaceful it seemed as he rode along. He rode out to the top of the highest peak that looked down over a gorge with a river that ran through the land. He pulled back on the reins, “Whoa Whiskey,” he said as he brought her to a stop. He climbed down off the buckskin mare and dropped the reins to ground tie her and walked to the edge of the hill. Standing there for a moment he took it all in. The view was breathtaking and he could not help but wonder about the people that had seen this 100’s of years before him. Was it always like this? Could it have been more beautiful than it is now? He stood there in awe, lost in the moment of time. Just him, Whiskey, the amazing view and the Lord above.
Hunter knelt down on one knee. Took his straw hat off and held it in his hand that was draped across his now bent knee, bowed his head “Sorry to keep you waiting Boss, but I had a bit of a hard start this morning.” He continued with his quiet time as he did every Sunday morning since his maw died.
Hunter was not much on crowds nor was he keen on sitting in a church pew. He also was not a religious man, but he believed in God and felt he was closer to him in his creations. Here he had no interruptions, peace, and quiet, with the exception of Whiskey chomping on some grass, and the occasional sound of a hawk that would always seem to circle overhead. After a while, he lifted his head, slid his hat back on, and stood up. He looked over at Whiskey who was very happy to be grazing on the grass undisturbed. He looked back down at the gorge and the water that ran through it with all its amazing power.
Usually, the river had a good flow, with lots small rapids, some bigger ones down the river, a few waterfalls, and a few deep pools scattered about that held some larger trout and other fish. They also turned out to be some good swimming holes in the warm summer air. Hunter had seen it when the rainy season came and the river ran over its banks and through the valley. He also saw it flash food several times and realized at a young age, that is was not a place you would want to be when one came up. He had a healthy respect for the water and the damage that it could do to the land, buildings, livestock, and human lives. He was not afraid of it by any means but understood what it and Mother Nature could do in the blink of an eye.
He had gotten bit once on the hand and was lucky enough to get to a hospital in time so that the damage was not fatal.
It was kind of like a rattlesnake. They were interesting to look at and the sound the rattles made when the snake warned you that it was near. It was a sound that you know for the rest of your life when you heard it. Any sane person would want to keep a distance because of the danger that they carried with them. A nasty bite from a rattler could cause a person to lose a limb or even their life in some cases. Hunter knew them all to well as he had hunted them several times, made hatbands and belts out of them to sell to people, or to keep for himself. The meat was good too when thrown on the grill or just a stick stuck in it and turned over a fire. None the less, he still respected them. He had gotten bit once on the hand and was lucky enough to get to a hospital in time so that the damage was not fatal. Now instead of catching them, he would just shoot them before picking them up. Yup, he had a respect for them just as he did the water and no one ever accused him of being sane. It always amazed him how something that could give you so much peace and be so beautiful, could be so deadly.
He walked over to Whiskey and lifted the reins and her head lifted too. Looking at each other in the eye, he rubbed her neck and asked: “You want to go fishing for a while”? Whiskey bobbed her head up and down as if she understood every word he said, still chomping on a piece of grass that was hanging out of the side of her mouth. He rounded her side, stuck a foot in the stirrup, and took a seat in the saddle. He looked back down at the water, gave it a nod. “It looks like a good day for it girl,” he said as he turned whiskey away from the edge and headed to a little trail that would take him down to the river.
He had everything he needed with him. He always carried his fly rod in a tube that protects it when stored, and his Winston 30 30 lever-action rifle strapped to the side of the saddle, something to eat and drink, a few apples to spoil Whiskey with and a small box of flies for fishing along with his fly reel that was all tucked away in his leather saddlebags. He also always carried a small tin with some first aid stuff in it, and a roping rope draped around the saddle horn and tied off, just in case he had an issue. Slowly he eased on down the path of the mountainside to the river.
To be continued …