At an altitude of 3000+ Meters, the morning was cold. Night was slowly giving way to dawn and the multitude of colors it brought with it. Koklass pheasants were calling in abundance in the distance, and here I was getting ready to shoot some Himalayan Black bears, if they presented themselves.
Lost in the Himalaya, which were beginning to lit up with the first rays of the morning sun, I totally forgot how wet the grass was. The dew drops arranged, as if nature had woven a poetry around them.
Walking carefully, so as not to disturb the dew on the ground (which I of-course failed ), I noticed that the slate of rocks had been wiped clean by Himalayan Gorals and Sambhar over the course of the night. This was going to be my field of play for that morning, as I was going to sit, as a hunter would have sat in old days, silently and without a movement to shoot these Gorals.
The Brown Gorals here, had a habit of coming and licking these rocks for salt after the sun had come up and i had some hours to kill. I leisurely, very leisurely scanned the forest beyond for Himalayan Black bears. I was back to slate of rocks an hour before the sun was up and to my surprise the Brown Gorals were already there. The moment they saw me, they disappeared to the forest beyond. I was naturally very disappointed as I saw that morning going waste. But I had nothing else to shoot, and there was always a probability of them coming back at the set time.
So putting all my doubts and fears aside, I sat. The hunter’s hide was made of slate of rocks, stacked on top of each other with a very small opening on all sides “to shoot” when the opportunity presented. The total height of the structure was less than 3 feet, with the “so called door” around 2 feet high and even narrower. Squeezing myself inside the door, I sat. It was the onset of winters and at that altitude it was chilly. The rocks were freezing cold and with the sun not up, I began shivering in a span of less than 30 minutes.
Brown Gorals have extremely sharp eyesight and a highly developed hearing mechanism. They can detect the slightest of movements and sound from extremely long distances. Since I was going to be sitting less than 20 feet from them, except breathing, I was not supposed to make any sound. So I sat, shivering for another 1 hour and 30 mins. My right leg had gone numb and I had lost any sensations of pain there.
The sun came up in a hour, and a Brown Goral followed 45 minutes later. He came exactly where my camera was pointing to and seeing I, he stopped. I had a Monkey cap that covered all my face except my eyes and I later realized, that he could not recognize what the hell was sitting inside those walls. Slowly and very hesitantly he covered those 20 or 30 meters between him and slate of rocks.
Keeping a very watchful eye on me, he began licking the rocks for salt. By this time I had started moving, and he for some reasons, didn’t mind me moving at all. I sat, shot, made videos, just looked at him and for the next 10 minutes or so, he just ignored me and kept licking. Seeing him at such close quarters was a highly intense and emotional moment for me and I could not help crying in happiness. In my mind I was like, how the hell could anyone kill such an innocent creature.
I think he had enough of me and wanting to scare me, he began threatening me with a movement, as if challenging me for a duel. I laughed and laughed and when I thought, I had scared him enough, I simply walked out of my hide. Seeing a human being, he was off to the forest beyond in a flash. I was the only individual for miles and miles around and the privilege of sharing an intimate moment with such a delicate and beautiful creature overwhelmed me. The Himalaya was glistening in the distance and all I could do was just close my eyes, smile and take it all in.
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