Chapter 13: Reindeer Hunt
Volume 1 — The Temporary Snow Country Life of the Northern Nobleman and the Raptor Wife
I roved through the white snow-covered plains with my reindeer.
Today was a bad day, with a strong headwind. The wind was especially more sharp.
Pulling the sleigh, my reindeer was chasing a wild one.
A merchant who visited the village told me, so I came out on a hunt.
There were three reindeers. While being wary of us, they were striding through the snow-covered plains.
I urged the reindeer pulling the sleigh to go faster. After accelerating for a while, I finally was at the same speed as the wild reindeers.
Seated on the sleigh, I aimed my rifle to the wild reindeer’s head.
However, because of the cold, I could not get a proper grip.
The hand supporting the barrel was shaky, and the trigger finger was also trembling in the cold.
To stop the gun from shaking, I drew the gun closer to my body and concentrated on the target.
The first bullet pierced a reindeers back.
I unconsciously clicked my tongue as I took the empty cartridge out and reloaded the gun.
Surprised at the gunshot, the wild reindeers sped up.
We were still moving at the same speed, but the placed I aimed at before had shifted to the position of the reindeer’s belly button.
I took aim once more. The target this time is the heart.
I was concentrating more than the last time, but the second shot was misguided.
I shot a third shot in desperation, but it only pierced empty space.
The reindeers escaped us at full sprint.
I had confidence in my proud reindeer’s legs, but it still lost the the stamina and leg strength of wild animals.
However, if I attempted to approach them to shoot them from the get-go, the cautious reindeers would run away at full speed from the beginning. There also aren’t any that would charge this way.
Eventually, my reindeer seemed to be getting tired, because the sleigh was gradually slowing down.
When I was about to blow the whistle to give it some rest, the sleigh suddenly tilted.
Because the sleigh collided with a chunk of ice that was like a rock, the sleigh bounced, which caused my body to be flung out.
It was good that I managed to throw away my gun in a momentary decision, but I failed to put my body into a better posture.
Worst of all, the snow piled up only a little, that the ground greeted me with hard and cold sheets of ice.
When I stopped tumbling, I was lying on the snowy plains.
The smart reindeer had already stopped its movements before I ordered it to.
I failed my hunt, and I fell out from the sleigh. It also hurt. It was the worst possible mood I could feel. Cursing, I punched the ground.
I heard Sieg shouting from afar.
To signal that I was fine, I waved my hand wildly.
My waist still hurt as if a nail was driven through it, but since I would just end up worrying her if I stayed lying on the ground, I slowly stood up.
Sieg was riding a sled pulled by four dogs. Just as she came close, she jumped off before the sled came to a halt. Because of the remaining force, she rolled gracefully on the ground before she ran up here.
I greeted my wife in a sitting position.
“Are you alright!?”
“Yeah, I’m alright.”
“You’re bleeding on the face.”
I thought my face hurt because of the wind, but it seems that I hurt my face while I was tumbling on the ground.
Sieg took out a small bag from her coat pocket, and took out some cotton balls and wiped the blood from my face.
As some first aid, she cut some soft cloth and fastened it to my cheek with some medical tape.
“Let’s return for today.”
I hesitated at Sieg’s suggestion.
I did not hunt a thing today. It was unsettling to return empty-handed.
“There are days like these.”
“Do as I say!”
Because she insisted so strongly, I decided to return for today.
Even after I returned home, I still felt clouded.
In this period of the year, I easily grow anxious for results.
As to why I was like this, it’s because the period when the sun does not rise was approaching.
This period lasts approximately two months, but last year it lasted 72 days. The year before, it lasted 57 days, and the year before that, it lasted 40 days. It changed every year.
We called this phenomenon where the sun did not come out the polar night.
During the polar nights, it gets dark everyday, so we could not hunt.
The only food sources we could rely on become merchants and the preserved food that were made during the bright season.
Thus, the villagers spent the still bright hours securing food to last through the polar nights.
I too was not exempt from that, so I was anxious that I could not hunt enough today.
While I was cleaning my gun, Sieg suddenly muttered something.
“Are you going to stop chasing reindeers then?”
Today was the first time I tried chasing a wild reindeer. I expected that the migratory herd would move on by tomorrow. I was expecting tomorrow to be the last day, when Sieg said something.
“It’s dangerous to hunt while moving on the sleigh.”
“No, it’s alright. I used that method to hunt for ten years, all alone. It’s not like I fell over for the first time.”
There was only one opportunity a year to hunt for reindeers, when they came around to eat moss hidden under the snow.
I attempted it every year, but I never could hunt a reindeer.
This hunt was grandfather’s pride and joy.
I witnessed him controlling his reindeer deftly and take down wild reindeers with a bullet to the head many times when I was little.
When grandfather passed away, I went out on reindeer hunts with father, but even father could not shoot a reindeer down from a moving sleigh.
Grandfather was an expert marksman, it was not a feat that anyone could do.
However, since I remembered those moments, I attempted those reckless acts out of curiosity.
Besides, wild reindeers are tasty.
Since they move over long distances in search of food, wild reindeers are well-built. The flavour condensed from eating a wide variety of food from the forest defied comparison the flavour from domesticated reindeers.
Normally, it is said that meat tastes bad if the animal was killed while it’s thrashing, but even so wild reindeers were desirable.
I passionately preached about the greatness of wild reindeer meat, but Sieg was expressionless as though she was uninterested.
Maybe she was unsatisfied that I could not hunt anything. Her eyes narrowed more.
“Tomorrow’s the last.”
“Is it worth risking your life?”
“Well, not really.”
It might be better to go steady and hunt birds and rabbits. I have Sieg with me this year. Though I thought that she would be unforgiving to selfish desires, my wife who was crossing her arms and glowering at me said something splendid.
“If you really want.”
“I’ll give you an advice.”
“It’s about handling guns.”
From my slouching posture, I instantly straightened my back.
“Eh, what is it!? Is there a secret!? Tell me!”
Sieg’s serious expression turned into a surprised on.
“……No, it was just unexpected.”
“From my experiences, my impression of men were that men are prideful creatures that disliked getting orders or advice from women.”
“I see. In my case, I would love to hear any advice Sieg has for me.”
When I hurried her saying that anything is fine, Sieg first pointed out the way I was handling the gun. She told me the right way to hold the gun and the right way to shoot, teaching me the method she learned in the army, although she added that it might not be good for hunting.
Normally, I would just aim from experience, by observing how the prey moved. However, shooting while moving was still an unchartered land for me.
Since Sieg learned how to shoot on horseback, she knew the right way.
Estimating time until the bullet arrived at the target, reading the wind and calculating the trajectory. She knew many things.
“……Well, these are the technical theories, but it indeed is hard to sharpshoot when you and the target are both moving.”
“I thought so.”
“When you shoot, you should put the target’s movement into consideration and aim in front of the moving target.”
Hearing Sieg’s advice, I concluded that it would currently be impossible for me to shoot them in the head.
I usually just aimed for the head since it was bothersome to remove the bullet when I processed the animals.
“Hey, Sieg, will you help me tomorrow?”
“Do you want me to drive the sleigh?”
“No, I can’t ask you to do that.”
Driving a sleigh is dangerous. There was no way I would make Sieg do it.
“I thought up a plan, but you are free to decline.”
I told Sieg about the plan I thought up.
When I looked to her for confirmation, she accepted the request.
The next day.
The second day of the reindeer hunt began under a clear sky.
We soon came across wild reindeers. I slowly approached at first, and once they were within range I sped up.
A short distance away, Sieg was driving a dog sled.
She had a pivotal role in this plan.
My reindeer quickly outran the wild reindeer.
Using the knowledge I learned from Sieg last night, I aimed to where the wild reindeer would move to.
For one shot, I concentrated my strength and pulled the trigger.
The bullet grazed an antler.
Don’t rush. My reindeer and I still have stamina.
With a trembling hand, I pulled the trigger.
The bullet hit the thigh of a reindeer.
Struck and unbalanced, the reindeer collapsed on the ground.
I stopped the sleigh and ran towards the fallen reindeer. Sieg followed behind me.
I wrestled with the fallen reindeer and managed to overpower it, exposing its belly.
I signalled her, to which she raised a knife high above her head and stabbed it through the chest, aiming for the heart.
At that moment, we quickly evacuated the area around the reindeer.
A while later, the reindeer finally stopped moving.
I felt an indescribable feeling of delight.
“Sieg, we did it!”
I was so happy that I grabbed her hands and kissed her cheek in gratitude.
I wanted to hug right there, but since the knife was still in the reindeer we split to take care of it.
Like so, our reindeer hunt ended.
Ritzhard…… he’s a natural. Did you see what he just did at the end?
Oh, and, I’m back in school now so I might not be able to upload new chapters as much.