Moonrise Before Dawn


Here in the Catskill Mountains, it’s the last week of hunting season.  The crisp air and cold mornings bring back memories of my active bowhunting years.  I remember the year when I invested in 3D camouflage – pants, jacket, and hat covered with fabric “leaves” that appear to flutter in the breeze, enabling me to blend into the forest that much more.  I was hunting on new land, the abandoned ski slopes of Romer Mountain – New York state’s very first ski slope dating back almost a century, now overgrown with perfect browse for deer.  I picked out a spot on the edge of a clearing and with the help of another hunter, mounted a tree stand on a tall maple.

The next morning, I crept into the forest with my compound bow at 4am – a short walk in the dark from my new home in Woodland Valley.  The sky was clear and the rising moon illuminated every branch, every tree, every silhouette in the forest.  I walked slowly in the magical silence, broken only by the occasional call of an owl.  I found my tree, tied my bow to the string hanging from the tree stand, and began to climb up the steel pegs screwed into the trunk.  I ascended through the glittering beauty as the forest floor spread out before me.  By the time I hauled up my bow and settled into the tree stand, I was filled with amazement – deer or no deer, this was a rarefied experience.  In motionless silence I sat for almost two hours, watching the sun rise as the first morning birds began to twitter.

I didn’t see any deer that day – and after many weeks of hunting, discovered that despite abundant deer sign, the deer on this territory were only active at night.  But it was still worth it to sit high up in that tree and blend into the pre-dawn moonlit world around me.  I strove to capture the experience in this painting, working from memory.

Years later, I was invited to participate in a documentary film about hunters.  One of the filmmakers purchased the painting from me.  After that, my youngest child was born and I became a homeowner.  That was the end of my bowhunting years.  I still hunt with a rifle, but only sparingly.  Venison is the only meat I eat, and it also provides much of the food I give my dog – heart, liver, kidneys, and bones included.

A good week to all –

D Yael Bernhard
Author / Illustrator of
THE JEWISH EYE 2018 / 5778 Calendar of ArtNew!!
LOVE IS – a unique crossover book for all ages
THE LIFE OF AN OLIVEExplore the life of a 2000-year-old olive tree
JUST LIKE ME, CLIMBING A TREE: Exploring Trees Around the World
NEVER SAY A MEAN WORD AGAIN – A Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review;
winner of the Sydney Taylor Award and National Jewish Book Council Award
THE DREIDEL THAT WOULDN’T SPIN – A Toyshop Tale of Hanukkah
WHILE YOU ARE SLEEPING – A Children’s Book Council Notable Book
A RIDE ON MOTHER’S BACK – An American Bookseller Assoc. Pick of the List
– and more!


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