Encounter in the Forest

I was walking in the woods and I came across a large dead tree that had fallen into a clearing where I hadn’t noticed it before. I walked around the back of it into the woods and saw a tiny splash of neon orange twenty feet away. Then I saw the face of a deer. A buck with a small set of horns. His eyes were wide open and looking directly at me. As I stared at him I realized the flash of color was connected to an arrow that was lodged in his body. I wondered if he was alive or dead. Was he staying still, unsure if I could see him? I might have easily missed him in his excellent camouflage. I moved my foot slowly in the leaves to make a sound, he didn’t move. I wondered was he dead with eyes open, rigor mortis? If he was dead, for how long, could I eat him? If he was alive, should I approach and try to remove the arrow and let him go? What kind of head did the arrow have, could it even be easily removed? I moved my foot again and he stayed frozen. If he was dead, I couldn’t let him rot there, how would I move him, would he smell? I moved a bit more and nothing. Was he related to the small caliber shots I had just recently heard? Did they misfire the arrow and then try to finish with a pistol? I stared at him and looked for a blink, a twitch, the tiniest of movements, nothing. I tried to assess from his body position, and the position of the arrow. The angle of the arrow was shallow, most of the shaft was visible, and it didn’t appear to be close enough to his neck to be effective. All the while my senses were heightened, adrenaline elevated, but calm. I took a step lateral to him. He sprang up, leapt 5 feet into the air over a large downed tree limb, and bolted away. As he did I could see by the arrows motion that its tip was lodged just under the surface of his hide in the middle of his back. Probably not fatal in the near term. It’s hunting season in the Catskills.

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