Tooth & Arrows: A Bit Of (Irrational) Guilt

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Might take a break from playing The Hunter again after today. However, first I have to share with all of you the beautiful pictures and live shots I took today. (Yes, even live deer! Mostly… That’s where the guilt comes in. I’ll explain in a bit.)

I was taking some basic shots. Something about this stump really made me happy, so I decided to take a nice shot of it and practice my Rule Of Thirds (leftover from Photography class). I like how it came out. While I was framing this picture, however, I heard several mule deer call. I responded with my imitation call, and headed toward the sound.

For the last couple of days, I’ve been following this herd off and on. Always too far away to see them, and by the time one comes into view, it’s isolated and I usually try to take it as a trophy. Today, I managed to catch a distant picture of the herd. Two deer can be easily seen, and there were four others, however they’re mostly behind trees.

Later on, again following calls rather than tracks, this lovely girl and I came face to face as she climbed over a pile of logs. She froze, I froze. I had two choices – gun, or camera. I chose camera. Right after I snapped this picture, she turned and bolted over the logs… and here came the moment of guilt.

The Hunter is an incredibly realistic hunting game – down to the fact that panicked deer can injure themselves. After this beautiful girl bolted, I went around the logs to challenge myself and pick up her trail. I wanted to see if I could track her down a second time, knowing the general direction she’d run.

On the other side of the logs, I found a trail – but not the one I’d expected. I found blood.

I hadn’t fired a shot, except for the camera, but the flash had scared her. In going over the logs, she hurt herself. I started following the trail of blood spatters and hoofprints, until I found her less than half a mile from the pile of logs.

She was laying in a pool of blood that you can kind of see in this picture. I walked around and her head followed me as I walked, watching me. She was breathing in quick, shallow pants, but her eyes were bright. In my moving around her, I saw what was wrong – the hip she’s laying on is a bit mangled – it isn’t surprising she didn’t get too far.

Like a horse, when a deer breaks a leg, there’s really nothing to be done. And that I was in a hunting game and couldn’t exactly call wildlife services or anything, I only had one choice.

I pulled out my rifle, whispered an apology, aimed carefully, and shot her in the head. I put her out of her misery. But the way she was staring at me… I’ve never had a game feel so real that I felt shaken up afterwards. I feel that way right now. I wandered for nearly half an hour after “bagging” her. I ignored tracks, I ignored calls. I spotted a Feral Hog through my binoculars, and spooked a couple of pheasants into flight.

Through my wandering, though, I found something lovely, and it’s the last thing I did before logging off of the game.

This is probably modeled after a real place, but it’s beauty took my breath away. I released my guilt over the doe and let it float away on the wind as I took several photos of this beautiful vista. Then I closed the game and logged out of The Hunter.

It got a touch too real today, and I’m still shaken up. My guilt is COMPLETELY unfounded – the doe was nothing but a mass of pixels with a wonderfully designed AI that mimics the behavior of a deer. I can’t turn the flash off on my in-game camera, so my only other choice would’ve been to shoot her anyway. Either way, it turned out the same, and I got the trophy. It’s only a game.

So why do I still feel just a bit sad?