Each year I look forward to getting out of the city and spending a week or so in the outdoors. Typically for me, it is hunting season, but it really doesn’t matter if I’m hunting or not, it is the outdoor experience that rejuvenates me. When I am lucky enough to draw a tag and harvest an animal, it means we will be blessed with meat for the year. If not, we eat a lot of beans, rice, chicken and fish.
This year was really great! I camped with three friends, LJ, Don and Doug. This year only LJ and I had deer tags, and Don and Doug came along for the fun. While camping we enjoyed all sorts of activities.
Nearly everyday we shot our bows.
Relaxing around the camp and nightly campfire
We explored the Cave Valley cave. Deep in the cave there is a section with lots of names and dates going back to the early 1900’s. The Morris family has a lot of representation on the cave walls.
One of the days, we took out the .22s and played around with the dueling tree. It is always fun to burn through hundreds of rounds of .22 trying to best your opponent on the dueling tree.
Doug writes an outdoor column for the RJ and I thought it funny that one afternoon he spent his time writing his column while out in the mountains camping.
Cave Valley weather changes from day to day. One day it felt like it got up to 80°; others it barely reached 50°. Nearly every morning when we would get up, it was in the teens or low twenties. We even had a day and night with snow and rain.
In the area where we hunt there is an old rock house hidden among the rock out cropings on the mountain side. It looks like it was an old outlaw hideout. It affords a view of the entire valley so as to be alert to anyone approaching. From below, it is nearly impossible to see even when you know it is there. One afternoon I hiked up to the old house.
See the upper left corner
I then continued up to the end of the draw and hiked over the ridge and down the other side of the mountain. There is a great peace that comes when you are alone on a mountain, feeling a cool breeze whip across your face while being bathed with warm rays of sunlight. I took advantage of the time to reflect on how great God’s creation is and how blessed I am to have time to enjoy it.
While exploring the country we came across wild horses, elk, deer, antelope and coyotes.
As for the hunt itself, both LJ and I hunted opening day. We saw very few deer, but by mid-morning a group of buck passed between where LJ and I were hunting. LJ was hunting high and I was down low in the flats. Since it was the first day and they were all forky’s, we both elected to just admire the animals.
Monday was our second day for hunting and again it was very slow. Again I was low and LJ was up high. Doug and I parked ourselves out in a flat area in plain view with no cover anywhere near. After a long while, I saw some horns bouncing into sight from behind a parallel ridge about fifty yards in front of us. For a minute, my adrenaline really started to pump, but I quickly saw it was an antelope. This big guy walked over the ridge then turned up the draw and went straight to LJ and Don who were concealed in a patch of sage and buck brush. Once he reached the brush where they were hiding he began feeding; some twenty-five yards away from LJ and Don who were glassing in the opposite direction. Neither the antelope nor LJ and Don knew of the others presence. While Doug and I laughed at the scene a doe and two fawns popped up about twenty yards from us, spooking Doug and me. This time the joke was on us.
It wasn’t long after, I spotted a pair of antlers a few hundred yards out on the horizon heading straight for me. I quickly whispered to Dough, “I see a buck!” Doug then started to turn so he could see when I yelled as loud as possible when whispering, “Don’t Move! Stay quiet! He’ is looking straight at us.” A few seconds later he dropped behind a ridge and allowed me to bring my rifle up without giving away our position. Doug had now turned around and had his glasses fixed on where the buck had disappeared behind the little knoll. It seemed like we waited an hour for the buck to reappear. We scanned high and low, not knowing if he had turned up or down the draw he had dropped into. Then he suddenly reappeared still walking straight towards us. My breathing became heavy as I anticipated the moment. I watched through my scope for what seemed a very long time as he presented nothing but a head on shot. Several times he stopped, looked directly at us, then continued towards us. Doug and I remained as still as the rocks, never giving away our presence. Finally, when about 75 or 80 yards out, he turned enough to present a shot. I exhaled completely. paused and squeezed. The bark of my .308 broke the silence of the morning and the buck was down.
While this whole scene played out, LJ and Don watched from above. Don said he looked down and saw my rifle was up. He told LJ, “Paul has his rifle up. He never brings it up unless he sees something.” Then they spotted the buck heading towards us. Finally, Don said to LJ, “He just shot it.” LJ answered, “how do you know?” As soon as the words escaped his lips he heard the report of my rifle. Don had seen the buck jump when hit, a few seconds before hearing the shot.
I ended up taking several hundred pictures of a lot of beautiful scenery. To see all of them go here.