Last November, I had my first opportunity to go deer hunting, with my grandpa and our friend Craig on private property just Northwest of Torrington, Wyoming. I loved it. It was super fun, and I want to tell you all about it.
Everyone has their own little issues in life, such as how my poor brother struggles to go on a road trip without needing to use the restroom two miles after we pass a rest stop, and the next one isn't for another 73 miles away. My little issue in life, however, is the ability, (or rather the lack thereof,) to successfully pack all of my belongings before venturing out in the world. So, at 10 pm the night before hunting, we realized that I had forgotten my camo hunting jacket. I called my dear mother and requested for her to leave it outside for us, so we could swing by and pick it up at o'Dark 30 the following morning.
I awoke to the sound of my alarm at 4:45 AM. Grandpa and I hurriedly got dressed and slipped out, taking some of grandma's delicious pumpkin muffins with us to eat on the road, picked up Craig at his house, and headed North. Along the way, we encountered this absolutely stunningly beautiful Wyoming sunrise. We hit Torrington by about 6:30, and headed straight for the property where we were to hunt. Our plan was to hunt the canal bottoms, where there was water and trees, where deer would go early in the morning to get a drink and have a snack. After this, they would go up to some of the bluffs and blowouts to spend the rest of the day taking a nap. We wanted to be able to catch this movement.
We were into the deer right off the bat. Almost immediately, it can't have been more than two minutes after we had got there, we caught the flash of a little puffy white tail crossing the dry canal . I bailed out and almost got a shot, and it was a great, near-perfect opportunity, but everything was moving a little fast and I just wasn't on top of things. The two or three deer tore off to parts unknown, and we tried to follow up with them, but it just didn't work. So, I got my head in the game and we resumed the hunt with renewed vigor. It was still early, and we’d seen deer before along an irrigation drain on the north end of the property. We worked our way through the grass and sagebrush along the drain, all the while glassing the nearby fields. There was plenty of fresh deer sign, but no deer. By this time, it was mid-morning and we were pretty sure the deer had moved into their bedding areas near the bluffs.
We stopped for lunch when we reached a small knoll near a windmill. I had a question that I’d wanted to ask Craig for a long time. He’s been a missionary, a stake president and a counselor in a mission presidency in our church. I’m planning to be a missionary in a few years myself. So during lunch, I asked him how I could get ready to be a really good missionary. His main advice to me was "Don't stumble." It is so important for us to never get caught up on stumbling blocks in any form, before or after one's mission. If we stumble, we might fall before we can accomplish something great. It was a great talk, and I really felt the Spirit as he was talking to me. He’s a great man.
After lunch, we started walking for the bluffs. The bluffs are a series of low, rolling grassy hills and sandy blowouts. In the middle of it all is a huge sand dune, and it was this area where my grandfather had met with success in an earlier deer hunt. We hiked from the truck, with me carrying the .243 and Craig using Grandpa’s .280 Remington. Actually, from our parking location, it was a little hike to even get to our destination, and it was almost half an hour of walking before we could begin hunting. Dang, we walked and we walked and we walked. Sometimes, we would split up and search different areas, but we didn't even SEE any deer. I wasn't feeling terribly discouraged, just maybe a tad bit disheartened.
One such time when we had split up, grandpa had told me to go check out a little blowout. We were starting to approach the area where he had gotten his deer before, so we were using extra caution. I was just walking along, and decided to look back to see where my grandpa and Craig were. President Whitehead was hidden from view. When I saw grandpa, I thought he was behaving rather weirdly. He was crouched down and, I assumed, had decided to turn into an alien. I thought that he was making alien antennae gestures with his hands, so (luckily I had the sense to not shout out), I, via sign language, inquired as to what he was doing. He was pointing at something in the distance which I couldn't quite see yet, and then, suddenly, it hit me. He was directing me to a deer.
I hit the deck immediately. I sort of crawled over to the edge of my bluff and saw the deer in question. She was a rather large doe whitetail. I took my rifle out of safety, and, with rapid breathing and huge amounts of adrenaline, squeezed the trigger. Right as the bullet left the barrel I knew it was a bad shot. I missed, and the doe bounded off. Naturally, I took off after her. My grandpa met up with me and we ran over to the edge of another bluff, looking down over into a draw. She was down there, looking nervous but she looked like she was going to stay. We army-crawled up to get a clear shot. I got my breathing under control, heard the click of the safety going off, got my crazy wiggling of the scope dead still, and pulled the trigger.
BANG! Instantly, I knew it was a good shot. But not good enough. She went down, and with one more shot she stayed down. Man, it was an intense few minutes, but I got a deer! According to grandpa, she was one of the bigger whitetails he had seen and she was as big as doe whitetail get. She was very young and healthy and had a good life. The amazing thing was, I had made my first shot only about 50 feet away from where my grandpa had killed his deer! The #1 first thing we did was say a prayer of gratitude. That is extremely important. Heavenly Father blessed us with this beautiful gift of fresh meat, and it was important to give thanks. I was the happiest guy in the world!
After cleaning her out, we started the long walk back to the truck. It seemed like quite a hike on the way there earlier, and I got very tired then, but the way back seemed really easy! I suppose it helped to be a 13-year-old who had just killed a deer. We had to hike all the way back to the truck and drive a long way around to get to my deer and load it up.
We hunted around a bit for another deer for Craig, but to no avail. Feeling satisfied with the results of the day, we paid our thanks to our dear friends in Torrington who let us hunt on their ranch and headed home. On the road, I learned that Craig knew a lot about missile defense systems from his career in the Air Force. He told us all about the workings of our ground-to air missile defense system. It was awesome! I loved it, and it was one of the highlights of the trip. It was really neat to hear about all the cool technologies and it filled us with national pride.
I had an amazing hunting trip. I saw and learned so much, and got a doe deer to boot! The Lord's creation, Earth, is just so beautiful! It amazes me that anything could be so gorgeous. I'm lucky I got to experience Wyoming in all its glory, along with the fine men who are a part of it, on this trip. I got to learn about: a) What I can do to prepare for my mission, illustrated by Craig, b) How our ground-to air missile defense system works, told by the same, and c) Heck, I got a beautiful doe whitetail deer!