Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Great Arctic Deer Hunt - Part 2

      When we woke up in the morning, it was a beautiful winter day. There was 16 inches of fresh powder, the sun was shining, and it was cold. We realized that we couldn’t do much about the deer situation, so why not take a shot and go hunting! We threw the guns in the truck and headed out, bound for another hunt area about 30 minutes away. The journey took a little while, due to all the snow, but we made it there in reasonable time.

Our plan was to get weaponry and turn into hunting mode the instant we crossed the border (a river in this case) into our area. So, as we rounded the bend leading to the border, we prepared to stop and get ready. I guess it came as a surprise to us when we heard from my uncle, “there’s a deer right there in those trees.” And it was true. Not one but two doe mule deer were standing right in the trees, next to the river which marked the border of our hunt area, (luckily on the correct side). And we weren’t ready! I was to take the first shot, as the deer were on my side, and I hadn’t any hunters orange, a coat, any ammo in my .243, and was caught totally off guard. I couldn't legally shoot from the truck, so I (as quietly as possible,) stuck a round in the chamber of my gun, quietly stepped outside. It was this movement which sent the two poor deer bounding off to a little hill with aspens and everything. We jumped out of the truck, and got set up on the tailgate to get another shot.
        No amount of training and practice at the shooting range can prepare one for the sheer rush of adrenaline that comes with taking a first shot. This wasn’t a little paper target anymore on a sunny, warm day with perfect wind conditions in my hometown, this was the real deal. I did my best to slow my breathing and the crazy shaking of my gun, aimed, and fired. BAM! Puff of dirt a few inches below the deer. She actually kind of jumped a little, her back legs went out, so I thought it was a hit. But there was another deer who had gone bounding off and my cousin, The Apprentice, still had a shot. BAM! Another puff. No hit. Deer goes running. I take another shot. No hit. Apprentice takes another. No hit. We take two more shots while the poor deer still stand there and then they bound off to parts unknown. 
        We decided that maybe those two deer just weren’t for us. Actually, we thought, they were probably made of Kevlar. We hit them repeatedly but their Kevlar armor was just protecting them. So, we piled in again, this time fully prepared, and set out once more. We realized that the snow was a big problem. We couldn’t access about 90% of the places that we had wanted to go to, the snow slowed progress down, and was overall just severely hampering our hunting experience. In an attempt to get out of snow, we dropped way down in elevation to near Green River and Farson. It was a good idea though, there was virtually no snow in contrast to the 16 inches we had received. Nothing. No sign. By this time we needed to head back for dinner. Along the way we got two bunnies, one each for me and The Apprentice. They were tasty. Once we got back to the cabin we had bunny for dinner and talked the night away.
        Over the next few days, we went anywhere and everywhere. We went back to where we had saw the deer the first time. They weren’t there. We went to all four corners of Sweetwater County in pursuit of deer. One time we went to Irish Canyon, and through the feet of snow, took this picture: 

As the hunt drew to a close, we realized, we probably weren’t going to get deer. Well, in my defense, 16 inches of snow should be enough to hamper anybody’s hunt! The key thing was though, we got to spend time with the people we love, doing the things we love, in the wild country we love. And so concluded my first deer hunt.

-The Ranger