Every time he goes hunting she wants to know when he'll be back and why does it take so damn long just to go out and shoot some poor animal.

He tries to explain how far it is to Luray or Wachapreague or Tellico Mountain, and how it's a long hike or boat ride after that to get ot where the game is and the people aren't, and besides you don't exactly make an appointment with a duck or a deer . . .

That doesn't begin to get to the heart of the thing, which is the rhythm of the hunt. The rhythm is made up of tide and terrain and wind and weather and the cycles of the sun and moon. The theme is subtle and the pace is slow; all the wild creatures dance to it, and if the hunter wants to find his partner - the creature he seeks to kill - he has to pick up the beat.

It takes time, this slow dance on the killing ground. If the place he is hunting is new to him it often takes more time than he's got. He is sipping from a stream of life that runs on through all weathers and seasons; it's like trying to understand a jigsaw puzzle by fitting together a few pieces of one corner. If he's lucky he will be hunting with someone who lives there and knows the game and the ground; the deer of Pennsylvania and Virginia are as similar and as different as the farmers of the Beaver and the Shenandoah valleys.

Luck and skill have much to do with the outcome of the chase, but time is the controlling factor. One ridge may take an hour or two to hunt; a parallel ridge of equal length may take a day or a week. Some meadows are to be crossed, others to be stalked. It may take days for the hunter who has been living by the clock to adjust the local time, which races with the flush of grouse he almost stepped on and stands still as a turkey lifts her head to see what it was that made the grouse fly.

The hunter fits himself into the landscap - lifescape - poorly at best. He sees hard any of the animals around him while near all are aware of his passage. If he is not on before dawn and after dark he will miss even more, because that is when the diurn and nocturnal shifts change in the wood and on the waters; the comings and going are all the more fascinating for being dim seen or only heard.

The temptation always is to force the pace. Night is coming on, or the terra looks more promising across the valley. By the pressing hunter sees the flags of disappearing deer while bucks walk up to the on or who moves to their biorhythm: stop and go slow, slow. Listen. Wait and watch. Listen. Wait some more. Wait all day.

Wait without thought of tomorrow, a though tomorrow he has to be back in the city. There is no tomorrow in the world he should be living in.