The Chase (Stalking Deer)


I am coming to meet you,

    O you wild denizens of the forest.


But first I must find you.

Your signs I know so well and now

    the hunt is on, to track you and

        find you.

I want you to accept me so I can

    become one with you,

        one of the wild herd moving

            peacefully, gracefully through the forests.


My ancestors would have at one time

    hunted for your meat.

Now I hunt to meet eye to eye

    and close in on that wild vitality

        in the depths of the wood.


Not apparent to the casual observer,

    subtle clues show that you have been near.

I set off along a track line, moving stealthily,

    smelling the air, sensing the movement

        or stillness of the air in the understory.

My eye surveys the seeming chaos of

    broken branches and leaf litter.


Here and there tell-tale signs appear,

    bare earth around an Oak trunk, something

        attracted you here, a special

            spot to rest and browse and then

                move on apace.


Then ahead, a flash of a glimpse of


I crouch in the brush for cover

    and espy the trailing hinds of the herd,

         the hunt is truly on.

I will track you, keep up with you,

    you will know I’m here,

        I know.


I enter a deeply dark, closed in,

    choking forest, unnatural plantation.

But I’ve no time to be appalled, I’ve lost

    sight of them so I step up the pace,

        jump logs, traverse gullies, breathing

            deeply, sweat pouring, eyes peeled.


An unmistakable scent fills the air,

    the smell of sweat and animals.

They are close.


The forest opens up, still dark

    but Ash, Oak and Beech are the mainstay.

And no longer a soft, silent cushion

    of needles, but the more challenging

        dry cracking underfoot of small twigs.


I tread carefully, watching my step

    then looking up as I should,

        I instantly flinch to one side and

            before I have even thought, my back

                is to the Oak.

And burned as an after-image on the

    back of my retina is the outline

        of a full grown stag among the herd.

Ten to twenty I surveyed in that glance,

    in my mind thoughts racing:

        “Will they still be there? Can I

            close in on them without being seen?

                Have I been seen already?”


Edging carefully round the tree,

    with one eye I peer past the bark,

        and in my heart, elation, as I can

            feast my eyes on the gentle drooping heads

                of hinds grazing, watchfully moving

                    while the regal, many-pointed stag

                        surveys the forest scene.


Seconds seem like hours, how long

    have I stood stock still here behind this tree?

        When can I make my move?

Slowly, I take out my camera and raise it

    to eye level, but even this is a mistake.

The stag’s head snaps round and

    stares straight at me, as if looking into

        my soul.

Letting out a bark of alarm, the herd

    breaks and in an instant dissolves

        into the wood.


I breathe again.

The end of the chase,

    until the next time,

        my friends.