My pop then handed me the knife. His right on the blade, his left gripping my fingers around the handle. “Hold it firm and steady. Look it in the eye, but don’t hesitate,” he instructed as his breath fogged in the crisp air. “Right there, like we had practiced.” Was it the cold, the fatigue, or the fear? We had been tracking all through the night and now into dawn of the next morning, nothing but our improvised form of sign language and dew drenched boot socks. If it were restlessness, why is my heart racing? If it were cold, why does my face feel hot? I finally decided that fear was quaking my hand. My knees laid in cold mud. My pop’s stare pierced through the back of my skull. I found myself in the center of the universe for a moment, as if the future depended on my decision. When you scrape a knee in our house, Pop tells you to buck up. I’d heard it so many times that it finally got through to me. This time I whispered so quietly, “Buck up.” When I regained my consciousness, my hand was covered in blood, the blade in the beast. The last sigh an animal makes sounds like a soul expelling from a body. I kept our eyes locked though, and as they glazed over into void, I felt a shiver run down me. It wasn’t a sense of power, nor strength, but a discovery within me. Something primal, yet something utterly human. I felt older, wiser, mature. Pop calls it becoming a man.