A Humbling Hunt

The image we outdoor-writer types often have of ourselves is that of an old, grizzled sage. Well, at least for some. As for me, I know only too well that I am a stumbling, fumbling, half-crippled old flatulent that is forgetful, ornery, opinionated and bucolic. Let me give you an example:

A few days ago the pronghorn season opened around here. As has been the case for me for the last three years, I could not draw a buck tag so I picked up a couple of doe tags so that I can make some chorizo. Normally this wouldn’t be much of a hunt. About the only selective part of a hunt like this is determining a dry doe. So off I go opening morning, and what do I see? Yup, nothing but bucks. There were at least four young bucks that stood anywhere from 75 yards out to 200 yards, looking at me as if to say, “What are you doing out here?” Later in the morning, I came across a young lady I know who works at the farm co-op in town. She had a dandy buck on the ground—her first pronghorn ever—that would score probably 75 inches or so (Dang kids!). I continued to hunt but had to cut short the afternoon hunt because of an evening commitment. The closest doe I saw all day was about a mile away.

The weatherman called for a hard frost that night, so as I unhooked the trailer with the four-wheeler still on it, ready for the next morning, I took off the rifle scabbard so that it wouldn’t get covered in frost, and headed to town for my meeting.

Next morning I bounce out of bed, determined to get one of my does.

Rifle…check…ammo…check…license…check, load the dogs up and off we go. I’m on a tear this morning. I arrive at my hunting area 20 minutes later, and the first thing I notice is that I have forgotten my rifle scabbard, meaning that I’ll have to sling my rifle over my shoulder like a nimrod all day. Then after I unstrap the four-wheeler and start it up I realize that I forgot to fill the gas tank last night. There’s but perhaps a quarter tank of go-juice available, and, of course, I neglected to bring any extra. OK, where I am headed isn’t that far…I can still do this.

Turns out that the speedgoats were even closer than I anticipated, and I quickly found an old, dry doe at 157 yards, according to the Zeiss rangefinder binocular I had with me. The .270 WSM spoke, and, as usual, I lost the target in recoil. I thought I saw my doe running as if wounded over a knoll. She did not reappear, so the dogs and I headed out to find her. I rambled around for half an hour, ending up nearly a quarter mile from the four-wheeler. I know I hit her. I heard the bullet hit! We head back to make another loop, and the dogs found her…exactly where I shot her.

I dressed her out and brought her back to the four-wheeler. Then I had to wrestle her up onto the bike. By the time I got her on and tied down, I had enough blood down the front of me to look as if had just been on the losing side of a knife fight. My editor on this website had told me a couple of days before to make sure I got some pictures. Sorry Ann, you would not want what I looked like up on this site.

So, if at some point down the road I start getting a bit too big for my britches, feel free to remind me of this doe antelope hunt.

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