A Non Typical Season
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. One man’s trash is another’s reality TV show. But for an east river hunter, one of nature’s oddities proved itself a treasure.
The highest scoring animals carry pairs of nearly identical antlers or horns. Any variation is seen by purists as a deduction from their worth. People attempt to mimic this symmetry. Our highways are divided evenly to allow passage, you in your lane, I in mine. We build machines to slice our bread and sort our produce so that our store shelves are filled with identical fruits and evenly spaced cans. Our home owners associations dictate a range of normal so that no house sticks out too much above the others, too close or far from that center line or painted too gaudy.
Even our bodies reflect a symmetry of essentials; two legs, arms, eyes, one per side evenly divided by a line draws from the tip of our nose to the belly button below.
In studies on beauty the world over, the balance found between the components on either side of that line contribute to our impression of what is lovely and what is unique. Yet sometimes it is the scars, twisting and reshaping, that reveal a deeper understanding of true beauty.
As a boy, I fixated on my imbalances.
The tip of an ear, once removed at play by accident then reattached with a slight flair that left me an easy mark on the playground. The right eye brow broken and stitched back inplace three times that thickened too soon. I grew out my hair to hide them both. The lower lip kicked apart by a hoof was later covered with a beard. In youth I didn’t appreciate my differences but today when I hunt, I actively seek out the unique.
“There are three good bucks.” I told my hunter. “One is tall but thin, another is wide and thick but doesn’t carry the length. The third is different, a unicorn.”
One tall antler came out as nature intended from atop this antelope buck’s head. The other had been broken in his youth. When healed, it traveled instead down along the length of his nose. This season as a three-year old, it reached out ahead of his mouth and limited his grazing.
The night before the season, I was worried. One of the antelope was ranging far and I hadn’t seen him in a week. Another was spending his time on a neighboring ranch in clear view but out of reach. The unicorn had only been seen once all season. I hesitated to venture too deeply into their territory in fear of pushing them away. I didn’t sleep well that night.
Morning light came and with it relief. The heavy buck was clearly visible and undisturbed. After an hour of waiting without luck for him to take an anticipated path, I climbed back over the ridge to discover him bedded within a stone’s throw of my truck. He had backtracked and gone the opposite direction.
The acute angle from the ridgetop sent rounds harmlessly over his back, giving the old buck notice that the season had opened. He left the country. As we gathered our gear and prepared for a long morning of “pin the tag on the antelope,” we spotted an imperfect set of horns trotting our direction across the prairie.
While not as heavy nor as tall as his previous quarry, Gordon Doyle didn’t hesitate when offered an opportunity to harvest this unique and beautiful trophy. It had persevered and overcome his initial injury to become one of the dominant bucks in the area. I’ll likely never see another remotely like him in my lifetime.
Non Typicals can be beautiful too.