Saturday, February 6, 2016

Déjà vu - Part 2

     We started at the same unearthly hour, had the same kind of sausage breakfast sandwich, got in the same truck, drove down the same roads, and listened to the same people telling much of the same news on the radio. But this was to be a much different day.
We got there at the same time, but the difference was that this time it was 2 degrees F outside instead of -8 F. Positively balmy! We almost lined up in an identical situation - we had just crossed the property line when we saw two does and a yearling. This time, they were between 150 and 200 yards away. I fired a “warning shot” to let them know we are coming, and herd them closer to where we want them (or at least that’s what I called it – others may claim that I missed my first shot). They acknowledged this, and politely started booking it for a road crossing about 500 yards away. With the salutations over, we hopped in the Ford and Grandpa practiced his World Rally Cross driving skills to head them off.

     We got there right before they were crossing the fence, and they promptly turned around and started running out into the fields. Whitetail have an interesting method of running. As they sprint, they will hop far in the air, so you never know where they will be. But nine times out of ten, once they get to around 75 yards away, they will take two seconds to look back to make sure the predator hasn’t changed its position of attack. That momentary hesitation is what gave me the shot. When the lead doe slowed down to look at me and turned broadside. There was just enough time to line the scope up and shoot. She was dead.
      After a prayer of thanks and gutting her, we loaded her up just as the sun began to shine over beautiful southeast Wyoming. This gave The Ranger a great photo opportunity, pictured below. Not wanting to rest on our laurels (even though our “laurels” were feeling pretty frozen), we went looking for bunnies. We spotted one that was trying to get warm in the sun. Ranger hopped off in pursuit, made a sneak and got the bunny. We then spotted a corral where the cows come to water.

With a stroke of luck, the landowner came along and gave us permission to scout around and shoot some rabbits. We hit the jackpot. They would dart in and out of cover, eventually standing there in the middle of the yard just looking at us, and then there would be the customary pause of aiming then the crack of a .22 shell leaving the barrel at 1,300 ft/s, then the mad dash to retrieve the rabbit. Over the course of an hour or two, we killed a dozen rabbits. Like shooting fish in a barrel...

     There was a moment when Grandpa got so excited that the only way I could describe him was like an eight year old Girl Scout who made the biggest cookie sale of all time. It started like “What is that… it can’t be… it is… holy crap!” We were coming back along the ditch where the Ranger shot the first rabbit, when Grandpa saw what appeared to be a bobcat. The Girl Scout started emerging… then it was crushed. At a closer inspection it turned out to be a feral cat. With that we made our way out of there, talking about the impact of feral cats on an ecosystem and the great time we had. With a deer in the back, bunnies beside it, and some warm laurels to rest on, we were headed home. It was really fun.

-The Apprentice