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The Hunting Jacket

Chad Brealey

There is a blood stain from a deer on the lower right side of the jacket, just above where a blood stain would be if I had been shot in the kidney. There are duck and goose feathers hidden throughout the folds of the heavy cotton. I’m not sure exactly where they come from as I never see them vacate. I only see them as I put the jacket on and the down floats free. There is a series of graphite-like scratch marks on the upper left arm that were left by sharp points of shale I was forced to lean on while trying to read canyon water on a small summer steelhead river on the West side of Vancouver Island. There are spots of blood at the base of the large front pockets left by grouse that either made the mistake of trying to stay camouflaged in the middle of a logging road or fell to a rare wing shot.

It’s not going to be found at the shows in Milan and would only grace a fashion page if the Sartorialist happened to be wandering the Chilcotin plateaus in October. It’s not digital or RealTree camo – it’s dirty, stained and bleached tan. It smells like burned wood and is the colour of the earth and tall grass. It's the shade of time in the sun and the rain and fog.  It has become a uniform; a component of autumn rituals that have repeated for each of the last 20 years. My son will see me wear it and perhaps, in another fifteen years or so, he’ll ask to borrow it. It will then become his and the ritual will be afforded a set of clear eyes and glowing expectation.


ps - An outstanding replacement, or companion, to my jacket would be Filson's Tin Cloth Field Coat. The only thing this jacket doesn't have going for it is 20 years of field time on my back - but I'd be willing to break one in.