I walked up the hill, my headlamp casting shadows on the young regenerating lodgepole pines. Before reaching my morning sit spot I turned off my light and let the darkness settle in. In a world seemingly void of light and sound I crept the last few yards to the place I hoped to sit and wait for a whitetail buck to cross my path. From this emptiness, light emerged over distant ridges and filled the space between each blade of grass. Nearly simultaneous with the illumination of the draw below, the soft and distinct sound of a cloven hoof on fallen cottonwood leaves arose. Three does trickled out of the timber and made their way through. Lo and behold, a grunt, and then a buck appeared. He came in range, I fired a shot. He kicked, retreated under a tree, and finally lay his head down. When I reached him, I was overcome with joy, relief, sadness, and gratitude. I am forever grateful for the Land, Water, and Conservation Fund and the Montana Legacy Project for connecting a checkboard landscape, and creating a future where wildlife and people can move freely. What a privilege it is to step onto public soil, to move through the trees with purpose, to encounter a wild beast, to harvest food from the source, to share and relive this moment with family and friends.