A hunter’s dream morning

by Katie on October 2, 2011

The alarm went off, and I shot off my cot.

I had only slept a few short hours, haunted by visions of my 35-yard buck in front of me, visualizations of pulling the trigger the next day on a good buck, and a parade of antelope dancing around my head. I wish I were exaggerating. They had kept me awake long after Brandon was snoring.

Brandon, on the other hand, was, let’s say, not quite as excited about our final morning to hunt. Not at that moment anyway.

I had water, Brandon’s breakfast burrito, two peanut butter and honey sandwiches packed, and was dressed down to my boots, before he even crawled out of his sleeping bag.

Apparently, he picked up on my anxiousness for the day as I rushed about and had us ready to leave a solid half-hour before the past two days, because he asked me no less than six times what was wrong with me.

Each time, he was met with a “Nothing.” Because there wasn’t anything wrong. I was just ready to hunt.

Since I had extra time, I rolled up my sleeping bag and started on my cot pad.

“Katie,” he stopped me, “we could not kill an antelope this morning, you know. And have to stay another night.”

“Brandon,” I retorted, “we’re going to kill a goat.”

I even threw a beer into our cooler for the obligatory hunter-gets-a-cold-one-when-buck-goes-down. And for good measure, to “show” Brandon how serious I was. I’m pretty sure I caught him shaking his head at me during that whole ordeal.

So, off we went. Obviously, we got to our pasture in plenty of time, and parked way up ahead of the marker we’d set out the night before as a precaution.

Then the hiking began. Some light was beginning to peak, and with our experience the past couple days, we went ahead and started our in-step stalking stance behind the decoy, moving in one cactus at a time, taking nothing for granted.

We could just barely see gray spots moving across a hill, but knew we needed to be in position for a shot as soon as there was light for it. We reached a cholla cactus that seemed to provide adequate cover in the right position, and held as our antelope fed.

“There he is, Katie. We got him,” Brandon said, since he had the only pair of binos we’d brought from the truck.

Whew! Sweet relief settled in…

Game time.

We got the gun set up and steady as the antelope actually began feeding toward us, and I watched doe after doe after doe pass through the scope.

Finally, I made a last adjustment to the gun, and got back in the scope to find a buck. My buck.

Just as I settled in on him, Brandon, who had no clue I even had him in the scope, told me, “Don’t waste any time. Shoot as soon as you can. Don’t worry about being perfect. The does have us pinned. He’ll be right behind them when they take off…”

He was still talking, but I’m not quite sure what he said after that, because my crosshairs landed on him, and I started squeezing the trigger.

And…WHOP!

The does scattered.

We both heard the tell-all signal I had made contact.

We may or may not have both jumped up, exchanged a couple of high fives, shouted out things like, “You smoked him!” and “Yeah I did!” before we got back to business. Just in case my shot was off, I got back in the gun, and Brandon worked the hill with the binos, both in time to see our pronghorns go down behind some clumps of grass.

Then we told ourselves we’d wait thirty minutes before checking him out.

Maybe ten minutes later, we made our way over to the buck. We got a little confused over there and ended up on the hill behind him, no buck in sight. We got realigned with the decoy we had left in our cholla as a marker. And Brandon began searching with the glasses.

Thirty seconds later, he said, “I got him. Deader’n dirt.”

And more celebrating ensued.

Sure enough, we hiked over to a dead buck, propped him up for some pictures and began the work of packing  up meat and collecting my first set of pronghorns.

They say a bad day hunting beats a good day working.

I’m not sure what beats a perfect day hunting.

[No more to come.]

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