It’s the only music appropriate for such a serious-minded moment, despite the Rolling Stones tune that keeps inexplicably peering over the lip of your consciousness, almost demanding you let anyone within earshot know you can’t get any satisfaction.

The next hilltop holds no game and after realizing it’s probably time to start heading home, you turn onto the logging road to begin the slow uphill climb back toward the truck. A minute later the sun cuts a window through the low gray overcast and the momentary burst of solar energy makes the icy treetops explode with the light of a trillion diamonds. While fumbling for the small camera in your backpack, you pause with the realization no picture could reproduce the scene, or more importantly, the mood of the moment. As quickly as it opened, the window shuts, leaving you in the suffused light of a winter morning the same color as clam juice.

You are a mixture of feelings as you head back toward “civilization.” The season is in the final innings and no venison yet resides in the freezer, but you’ve had many adventures with good friends and seen extraordinary things. On the ledger, you are on the red side of the profit margin, but just barely.

After all those previously mentioned miles of life experience, you’ve finally learned the success of a hunt cannot be measured in poundage or inches. Those help, but they’re not the sole reason you spend an inconsiderable amount of coin and sweat. Perhaps you’ve finally grown up, at least as much as an otherwise feral human male is capable.