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|Firearms - Rifles/Guns|
So today I got to thinking, about how my love of hunting came about. Gophers! Yes, that is what got me going. My husband and I were running my dad's cattle on their summer range in Phillipsburg , Montana . We had a very small, old house that we were staying in and since it was my first opportunity to have my own garden, I planted some flowers right away. Moss Roses to be exact. I would go out the door in the morning just waiting for them to bloom; I knew they were close to opening up. As I walked out the door one morning I was thrilled because I figured that for sure they would be blooming. Yes, they probably were, but the gophers got to them before I had a chance to see them. They ate every single blossom off! I was needless to say, FURIOUS. So now you are wondering what this has to do with hunting or maybe you see the direction it is taking. I wanted to learn how to shoot. Something I had never had a desire to do, but now I wanted revenge. So my husband brought me out and taught me how to shoot his 22. I was determined to rid my yard of these moss-rose-eating beasts. Wildfires in the area put a huge damper on the shooting though; I had better things to worry about than gophers. The fires were moving in on our cattle, everything was dry and crisp and we knew that with a big gust of wind, the fire could be burning us up. I did however learn to shoot Greg’s mothers 6mm, she is very petite and so the stock was shortened and made for a great fit. This brings me to my first kill.
We had a cow that had been injured and she would never be able to get up again, so we needed to put her down. My husband told me that it would be good practice in a more controlled setting. I wasn’t thrilled, but I knew it had to be done. I felt numb in a strange way as I set up the rifle over the hood of the truck. Breathe, I remember thinking, then I aimed and fired. It was a good shot, but I wasn’t prepared for the twitching and movement that took place after a head shot. Greg hugged me and asked me if I was ok, but I wasn’t really sure. I was crying inside, although I don’t know what really upset me: if it was the emotions from my first kill or if I was sad to see the cow die. I had, however, made the shot and was successful.
When we returned to Dillon after the cows shipped home, I decided that I would like to hunt. I assumed that it wouldn’t be too hard to find a deer on my parent’s ranch, after all, they were everywhere and you could always get pretty close to them. Well, since we were just catching the end of the rifle season, the deer were very spooky and hard to get close to. We didn’t have any blinds or tree stands; it was a stalk and hunt. One very cold Montana morning Greg and I went out; there was some snow on the ground. We crept up a draw trying to stay invisible. We knew there were some deer out in the pivot field south of the draw, so we planned on sneaking up an irrigation ditch until we were in range. It was freezing cold, and once we were in the ditch we hooked together to make a fake deer sort of and crouched on our hands and knees making our way up the field. This was much harder than I anticipated, keeping the gun from getting snowy, and staying invisible to the deer without killing our knees and hands in the ditch. We got to a spot where there was a taller tuft of grass on the ditch bank where I could sit and shoot and there were deer in my range.
I was shaking, from cold and adrenaline. Greg helped me to get into position and I picked a doe that I wanted. Ready. Aim and Fire. I had shot right over her and she hadn’t even startled. Greg told me to relax and try again. This time I relaxed, took aim and right before pulling the trigger, said a little prayer to help me make a clean kill and for the deer not to suffer. I didn’t even hear the shot, but she dropped immediately. Perfect shot! I was ready to stand up and call it a hunt, but Greg said to stay put, there were a few more deer headed towards the one I shot. I still had another tag to fill. Fifteen minutes later, there was a small buck investigating the doe I had taken. Again, I aimed and prayed, I felt I had a better heart/lung shot so that is what I took and followed with a head shot. I had made a great first shot, but for me I hated seeing any suffering so I took a second shot. He was only 10 yards from my doe. I was ecstatic, and needless to say, so were my husband and my dad. It was a very memorable first hunting experience. Although my buck was not a giant by any means, he was tasty. My husband always says “you can’t eat the horns”. In other words you might have a monster buck, but to us it doesn’t matter because we hunt for meat not horns. Not that we don’t have a few nice racks on our wall, but we prefer meat in the freezer.
So this was the beginning of my hunting experience and it all began with a moss-rose-eating gopher. Thanks to the fires, the gopher survived to eat moss roses another day.
© January 2008
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