.... all that to say, i wrote the staff column for the paper this week. since it's our hunting/wildlife feature edition, i figured i'd write about my recent hunting experiences, being new to the sport and all. i hope it stands up to the scrutiny. rather than put something out there and be told to change it, i'd really not rather put my thoughts out there at all. the blog is different, for some reason. maybe it's that the newspaper is in print and official and it's my job. more pressure!
this is what i just finished writing for this week. i hope the readers and publisher d approve and find it interesting.
On the Hunt
This year my life has included a lot of firsts, and right there amongst “buying a house” and “getting married” is harvesting my first head of big game – a buck antelope in Area 63.
I didn’t grow up in a hunting family, so last fall when my now-husband Scott asked if I wanted to go along antelope hunting, I left town in the early morning darkness with my precious hot coffee to trudge around with a group of hunters in the cold and snow looking for antelope – my first hunting experience.
Although not thoroughly impressed, I was intrigued. Not long after, I found myself with a general elk license, through the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Hunter Mentor Program, looking for elk northeast of Meeteetse. Upon sighting a group of elk, the others in my hunting party grabbed their stuff, set up and had three in short order. Amidst the excitement and stress, and being urged to shoot, Christy, shoot! I only managed to fire once. I never said I was the quickest on the draw.
Another year went by, and as the 2010 hunting season approached I put in for and drew an antelope, figuring that might be easier quarry. For the first time, I found myself scrutinizing the bucks as I passed through my hunting area, after being told what makes an antelope “good.”
It was then that I started to understand hunting.
After the season opened, one sunny morning Scott and I went out looking for my antelope. We had several in mind, and spent several hours glassing antelope. After stalking, crawling and sneaking, we finally came upon a real pretty one, standing right at the water tank staring at us. He wasn’t really tall, but his horns curved over nice, and he stayed right there while I got out of the truck, leaned across the hood and took a shot.
And I have no idea where that bullet went.
Shortly after, while we were driving down a two-track trying to decide what to do next, Scott says, “Don’t be mad, but that was probably the easiest shot you could have taken.”
I think he’s forgiven me, but I don’t think he’ll ever forget how I snipped at him for that comment! We did stop, and I did take a couple shots at a distant rock to make sure I wasn’t totally incapable of aiming.
After regrouping we headed to another section of the area, and found a good-sized herd of antelope in a draw. After looking them over, I picked one out, and hit him with my first shot – one much farther than I’d taken at the water tank. However, he didn’t go down, and I really didn’t want to chase an injured antelope. In my haste I shot over him, shot under him and then jammed the rifle.
All I hear from inside the truck cab is, “Calm down! Calm down! Don’t break my gun!”
I loaded one more shell, took my time, and finally dropped him. Although he’s not the biggest antelope in the world at 14 inches, I’ve decided to mount him as a memento to my first successful hunt.
And, thanks to the encouragement and help of my hunting friends and family, I will be back again next year.