I come here every morning and every evening, rain or shine. Usually rain. I have done this since my great uncle began training me in the art of hunting. I had a lot of trouble with it then. Sitting still, I mean. Getting up before sunrise (he woke me up) and dragging myself to the edge of the village clearing to watch and listen to the jungle wake up. I found sunset easier. At that age, you want to stay up late and sleep late, but Great Uncle Panther said a true hunter keeps the schedule of his prey. And I wanted to become a true hunter, more badly than anything.
So I kept as still and quiet as I could, and I sat and watched and listened, and I tried to disappear into the forest. After not too long, the animals grew used to me. They never quite dropped their wariness, but they didn’t feel the need to avoid me entirely, either. I watched animal families grow up: a young female cat going into heat, finding a mate, giving birth to kittens, teaching the kittens how to cat, losing a few to coyotes, mourning, raising up the survivors, and seeing them off to establish their own territories. I watched her do that many times. She made a good mother. I came to know the individual birds that liked to nest in the various layers of the canopy, the monkeys swinging up above and the lines of ants crawling down below.
By the time I’d hunted my first deer, I had grown used to lying in wait. I knew the deer’s movements and habits and preferences from watching them. After all, like many animals, they did the most, moved the most, at dawn and dusk.
I come here at other times, too. In the night, when I can’t sleep. In the heat of midday, when I find myself idle, and everyone else in the band wants merely to lie in the shade and gossip or nap. I go to my sit spot and see, again, the descendants of my old friends, who have become my new friends. They go through their daily rituals, the old dance I know so well. It does me more good than improving my hunting skill. It comforts me. I tell the young ones that if you want to learn how to hunt, you must find a place that will teach you, and you must have the patience to learn. This place taught me. It has become a part of me. I carry it with me wherever I go.