Coming to a close on my last hunting escapade of the year, what a thrill to have two of my three tags filled already. Remaining sober throughout has been a great challenge, yet I have overcome once again. For the average person this would be no great deal, yet for an alcoholic like me when everything revolved around drinking, the gathering and drinking afterwards to celebrate the success involved a lot of alcohol. Once again it’s been proven that you don’t have to drink to have a good time.
September 30th at 6:30pm I put down a dry doe weighing about 110 pounds. A beautiful animal, she was healthy and lived a good life. I just happened to be at the right place, at the right time and the exact moment. I’m a true believer that everything happens for a reason. With a little luck, and a slow and steady squeeze of the trigger, I now have 35 pounds of fresh organic meat in my freezer, consisting of 25 steaks, 2 roasts and stew meat. I also harvested the liver, kidneys and the heart, which is called “the Hunter’s Reward.” The bones I kept for Goldie and Dootson to enjoy. The rest will go to feed the animals in the wild — the birds, coyotes, foxes and scavengers.
I made plans to fill my next tag — where to go and what to do, strategizing the hunt. There are so many factors to consider such as wind direction, location, distance, angles and occupancy. Nothing is ever perfect, yet you have to come as close as you can to be successful. The fact that wild animals can be very unpredictable adds onto the challenge. Plans can change as fast as you make them, so you have to be very adaptable, as in the case of October 1st, 2021.
After filling my doe tag and putting in the hours of work to process all the meat and organs, I went out in pursuit of filling my buck tag. As plans changed from one to another, I found myself walking down a set of railroad tracks to access a field of bales. As I walked the tines one by one, I wondered what this evening would bring?
Navigating my way through some heavy brush, I found myself on the edge of a field. The warm evening sun was bright and warm, and as I settled against the south side of a bale, I had to disrobe a few upper layers. As the sun slowly set, the deer started to emerge one by one, then two by two, oblivious to my location.
I waited patiently for a set of antlers to appear. Calm, peaceful and quiet. Sitting in silence, scouting six does, the buck seemed to emerge from nowhere. My relaxed state suddenly vanished and my body was spiked with a high dose of adrenaline. The adrenaline coursing through my veins just before the kill shot is indescribable. Taking a life is serious business — it comes with a sense of obligation and responsibility to take care of the animal as best as humanly possible, harvesting as much as you can. My heart started to race, my hands began to quiver, my third look confirmed what I was looking for. The game was in play. First I must control the rush, tame my excitement, calm my breathing and wait. 260 yards – I questioned if I can make the shot? Can he see me? Does he smell me? He remains calm with his harem of girls. It’s now or never.
The first shot made contact, but not a kill. I had to find a way to shorten the distance. Do I risk moving and alert the other animals as to my location? A decision must be made quickly, go or no go. I could never leave an injured animal, even if I had to track it through the night. I made my way to a closer bale, which fortunately deflected my movement, each step methodically taken. I could not delay – this responsibility weighs heavy as I feel the pain and shock of him standing in the field with one shot leg.
That fifty yard walk felt like eternity! Finally I reached the bale, and it’s down to 200 yards. A small prayer and a steady hand, the buck dropped, the hunt complete. The animal is no longer here; he has passed on, one life given to feed many. The business of now processing the animal takes top priority. I tag the buck, I asses the damage, no meat ruined, it was a clean shot. A call to a friend to transport the buck and bring it back to the cabin to secure the harvest. This is where knowledge and keen knife skills come into play. You must eviscerate the kill, remove the hide and cool the meat as quickly as possible. This is, by far, no small feat. That influx of adrenaline has now gone from my veins and has been absorbed by my muscles. My body aches, and my mind reels in disbelief. It’s surreal, amazing, invigorating — a feeling that I’ve done something women rarely do — a sense of pride and accomplishment.
More meat to sustain my family throughout the winter. I end this hunting season successful, with 70 pounds of meat to take home. I’m very grateful for this entire experience. I hope you have enjoyed this adventure with me and will have a new outlook on all that’s involved with being a survivor, a hunter, a gatherer. Remember that no matter what you set your mind to, your efforts will be greatly rewarded. If you put in your time, good things will happen.