There’s a yearning for prey that every hunter gets—a natural desire to come face to face with one’s target. It seems then, that nothing would be more satisfying than the kill. However, in this month’s issue writer Rick Bass tells a story of a different kind of hunt in which desires have changed with time—and satisfaction comes from something more than the end.
You wrote that your father’s father changed your family’s life by buying some property in the Hill Country. How so?
By providing a source of mystery and myth in childhood, and, across furthering years, the accumulation of tradition.
Why is the sameness of the land reassuring to you?
In an age where so much seems to be hastening and delaminating, the regularity of cycles present at the deer pasture—even within nature’s dramatic amplitudes—is a constancy that can at times be lacking elsewhere in modern life.
You provide detailed descriptions of the landscape—the sandstone rocks, the granite monoliths, and other landmarks. How did the land help you tell this story?
It provided the simple conceit, the extended metaphor, or durability, time, erosion, senescence.
What does deer hunting mean to you today. What did it mean to you ten years ago?
Deer hunting to me today means being awake early and watching the sunrise, and then savoring it again as it sets. And watching. Watchfulness. Deer hunting ten and twenty years ago meant find an animal, find an animal, find an animal. Both perspectives were fully engaged and for that satisfying, though obviously in quite different ways.
In your story you wrote: “. . . at this stage of our lives, we are all less eager for the hunt to be over.” Why do you think this is? And what stage of your life would you say you’re in right now?
Not to sound morbid but at some point in almost everyone’s life you begin to consider that one day there will be a last time for just about everything. Certainly I find myself realizing, considering, that eventually I will be in that territory myself.
How did you pick which stories of you and your family to retell in this piece?
I picked the stories I wanted to tell myself, and my family, and others. I also wanted to pick some of the stories that we find ourselves re-telling, sometimes.
Is it difficult or easy to write about your own family? Why?
Sure it’s easy to write about them, they are great characters, engaged with life and this particular place and each other.
Do you ever think about the future generations of your family that will hunt on the land? How will they be the same or different?
I do think about future generations. I imagine they will revere the uniqueness and wildness of the place and will be eager to know the old stories, traditions, histories, as I am. That they will like and love and know many of the same things.
How do you think your family will react to this story?
I do think my family will enjoy the story.
What do you want readers to take away from this piece?
I have no expectations of readers, have tried only to write good sentences and tell interesting and meaningful stories.