Karla's Kolumn: Not a mighty hunter
October 24, 2019
It's fall and what does that mean? Raking leaves, football season, the World Series, and of course, hunting.
I was once a mighty hunter. OK, I was a hunter, a mighty one, well far from it. I have come to realize over the years that I love shooting animals with my camera more than with a rifle.
As a child my dad would take all of us kids out hunting rabbit or prairie dogs and it was great fun. We'd go with him scouting big game but I never had a desire to actual go big game hunting. It wasn't because of "Bambi" or anything. I think for me it was more of the cost of licenses (which were cheap compared to today). I was frugal with my money. I'd rather spend it on cassette tapes that hunting.
Then when I got married I would go with Alan but he kept encouraging me to take a hunter safety class so I could get a license and actually hunt with him. The stars aligned one year in Lovell where I had no night meetings on the week that a hunter safety course was offered. I passed with flying colors and that fall went deer hunting for the first time.
As luck, bad luck or good luck depending on your perspective, would have it, covering sports at the time for the Lovell Chronicle I had one free weekend in October, opening weekend.
So we got up before the crack of dawn and drove out to the Yellowtail Wildlife Habitat Area. Alan had a spot all picked out for me where I could wait for the deer to come sauntering by in the morning. I got into position and Alan found another spot to hunt his own deer and we waited ... alone. No headphones, no texting, just the still of the morning until the animals and birds began to awake.
I kept going over everything I had learned in my head about where to aim, what to do after you take the shot, everything.
Finally, here comes a nice buck, no trophy mount but a nice one still the same. I take aim, run through my check list - safety off, check; aim, check; let breath out slowly and quietly, oops. One big breath and a sigh as I readied myself to pull the trigger was all it took to spook the buck and he was gone.
Another sigh, few curse words and more waiting. The longer the wait, the colder the rock I was positioned on was getting. Alan sneaks over to my position. I tell him my story of woe and behold a few does come meandering near. Alan asks if I want to shoot a doe (I had a general license so could shoot either). My thought, yes a doe is fine. I'm cold, I'm tired, I missed my shot at a buck and with my luck I knew it was my only shot.
This time I did everything right and bagged my first ... and what ultimately would be my last ... big game.
She was tasty that winter and I am happy for the experience but I realized on a hunting trip in the Snowy Range Mountains that I don't have the mindset of a hunter. We're hiking through mountains looking for deer. It was a beautiful fall day and I was enjoying being in the mountains. I was letting my mind wander and then a nice buck deer wanders down onto the trail just a little ways in front of us. My first thought and instinct was not to move my rifle off my shoulder and into position for a shot. Rather it was to look at the magnificent animal so close to us as I nudged Alan. He looks at me like "yes, why aren't you shooting."
And, finally on our last hunting trip, back in the Big Horn Basin, it was the last day of deer season. We had been out several weekends and not seen much. Alan wanted something in the freezer. We finally see a small buck but I didn't have the heart to shoot him. As light was fading that day, Alan took the shot so we had deer meat again that year.
I love the outdoors. I love the mountains I just don't have the heart of a hunter. I can relish in the accomplishments of other hunters, like my brother who is an avid hunter.
And, I can help share people's successful hunt stories here in the Northern Wyoming News.
So, if you're out hunting this year and have better luck than I did, send us your photos and information about the hunt to [email protected] or [email protected] so I and others can share in your success.