Speaker, writer, filmmaker, Ducatista, adventurer

The Journey of the Huntress

My daughter is a double agent. For real. She’s both a Tri-Delt (Delta Delta Delta, aka “triple nipple”) sorority member and, unbeknownst to her “sisters” (who are unrelated to her by blood despite that stupid fucking moniker), she’s also a hunter – like the real deal, paint-on-face, archery toting badass motherfucker schlepping through the mud at 12,000 feet above sea level. Allow me to explain.

The kid is not messing around when she’s hunting on the weekend during archery season. She’s like Katniss Everdeen on meth, only she’s not on meth. But during the weekdays, while she’s at school in Boulder, she’s a Victoria’s Secret- wearing, secret- song singing Tri-Delt. And it’s a confusingly awesome juxtaposition.

None of her “sisters” know she is an aspiring elk assassin.  They might faint. No, pardon, they would faint. They might shit their silk bloomers and rat her out to the House Mother. But she keeps her secret and none of them know the depth of her devotion to the hunt because that’s how she likes it and I think she likes living as a double agent. Boulder is not friendly to the huntress, but she wants a good education and thus carries on.

 In the span of one day, I have known my daughter to recruit pledges with a cheery disposition and a keen salesmanship, go to anthropology class, cheer on the Buffs and then quietly come home to gear up for a hunt, apply her war paint and ready herself for the kill, compound bow in hand.

I am not sure where this comes from since she was educated at the very kumbaya Denver Waldorf School where she learned to do math with magic stones. Plus, she was raised by me — a Buddhist vegan. But her story is real and it’s happening in real time.

During hunting season, “Diana,” my daughter, is impervious to the cold and sleeps in a small tent. Nothing scares her (she’s encountered more than a few bears) and she secretly collects Sitka clothing, the preferred brand for hunters, while shopping for rush dresses with her “sisters.”  

But when it’s time to hunt, she wakes up at 5 am, puts on her camos, straps on her enormous backpack and begins the slog– for days. Five fucking days, to be precise.

My kid hunts for elk while I eat baked tofu and read art history books while burning incense in a meditation studio.

This has been going on for some time – since she was about 13. She’s 19 now. She’s never actually shot an elk until this year. And it was a turning point for both of us.

This year Diana found her camo’ed out self face-to-face with a 6-point bull in the far outback of the northern Colorado Rockies. As she recounts the moment, she knelt down with her bow, repositioned her baseball hat backward (so the bill wasn’t blocking her vision) and shot an elk with an arrow. “Arrowing” as it’s known in hunter’s parlance, I recently learned.

The way she tells the story is better than any words I can string together, but I’ll give it a spin here. 

“Mom, I saw the bull and it saw me and it was unexpected for both of us. I have never been more at peace with nature or with myself. We saw each other. We both knew and we were at peace, together.  I said a prayer and that’s how it happened.”

She was more at peace than I have ever known her. It wasn’t about the killing. It was about something else — gratitude and a connection to nature and, apparently, elk sausage, which is a thing.

I won’t look at her pictures because they sound gory, but oddly, for a vegan Buddhist, I had — and still have — this overwhelming sense of pride for my daughter’s achievement. Not necessarily for the kill, but for her presence, grace and gratitude – and her willingness to never take a moment like that lightly.

She’s a badass, but a grateful badass.

This encounter will probably define her and shape her confidence for the rest of her life. Maybe her “sisters” will never know or understand the poignancy of the moment, but I do and I respect it and I respect her.

Hell – I have never had that sort of connection with a slab of tofu, but I wish I did.

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