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Deer Hunting Anyone?
Top Of The Mountains
The snow was up to my waist as I watched my father shoot a large two point buck. We were at the top of the mountains deer hunting. The tall pine trees around us made me feel like a real mountain man as I looked at the sun coming up over the ridge.
The buck staggered and fell and I heard my father say, “Dang, I didn’t get a clean shot on that one.”
I watched as the deer rose again and then fell and seemed to crawl away into the deep snowbank ahead of us. It was bitter cold and my feet were starting to feel numb even though I had two pair of socks on and waterproof boots.
I followed my Dad and we found blood on the side of the snow bank where the deer fell.
“Let’s wait about 20 minutes,” my Dad said. “If we try to follow it, it will just keep going and going. If we let it lay down awhile it will cramp up and we will find it sooner.”
The wind was blowing up the canyon where we had camped the night before. This morning we woke up from our camp and drove in a four wheel jeep up the canyon to the spot where my father and two other hunters split up. I followed my Dad. I was 14 at the time, and Dad said I could finally go with him on my first deer hunt.
I sat there rubbing my hands and blowing on them as Dad lit up a cigarette and waited.
Tracking The Mule Deer
The next thing I remember was his waking me up and saying “Are you allright? You look kind of pale!”
I had passed out. I don’t know if it was from the cold, or from the excitement but I remember saying, “I’ll be allright. Just give me a minute.” I shook myself and then followed my Dad who was showing me the blood trail where the deer had bled down the hillside into ever deeper snow and brush. In about 10 minutes we found the deer. It was still alive and my Dad said, “Hold my gun. I’m going to slit it’s throat with my knife.” He approached the deer and I watched him grab the horns of the deer and slice the throat of the deer. “Wow,” I thought to myself. Soon he had cut the stink bags off the legs and cleaned the deer out right on the spot. He handed me what he called the liver and heart and threw the damp carcass over his back and we hiked back to the jeep.
Here is a reference for you in removing what we call the stink bags, if you plan on hunting:
“ Removing the glands carelessly can taint the meat. If you think you need to remove these – here is how you do it. Take notice of the inside of his back "knees." There should be a patch of hair growing there that is longer than the rest of the hair surrounding it. This is the deer's scent glands, which give off a very strong odor. Some believe it is a good idea to cut these glands out as soon as possible after the kill to avoid contaminating the taste of the meat” (1)
When we go to the jeep, the other two hunters had their deer as well. All nice bucks. “Good day for a hunt,” Dale, my dad’s friend said.
“Yup”, said my Dad and we got in the jeep and went back to a warm fire and our tent. Back then our venison kill helped keep us alive in the winter. I was one of seven children and my father didn’t make a lot of money so the deer hunt was something we looked forward to every year. I watched my dad go until at fourteen he finally let me go with him.
The Eyes Still Haunt Me
This was my first deer hunt. When I turned 16 I got my own hunting license and almost every year when I lived in Utah I got a deer to help feed the family until I was about 29 years old.
Some years later, I was hunting with my family in Fish Lake National Forest. Mom and Dad had a nice camper and I had the back of a covered pickup that I slept in. We had been hunting for several days and not got a deer. Over a nice breakfast of ham and eggs my mother said, ‘I guess we won’t get any meat for this winter.’
She looked so disappointed, I said to myself, “I’m going to go out and get a deer today.” I left the camp and hiked into the snow country. This year the fish and wildlife said we could shoot does, fawns and bucks as the herd was too big and was eating the farmers hay. I hiked over the ridge from our camp and saw a large female doe. It didn’t see me, so I shot it. Again, the shot was not an immediate kill and the memory of my first hunt haunted me. The doe was shot pretty bad and couldn’t move, but it wasn’t dead. I pulled out my pistol as I got close and the doe looked me in the eyes. I looked into the does eyes, and she seemed to be saying to me, “Why? Why? I am young and haven’t had my family yet.” The eyes haunted me and I pulled the trigger with the barrel right between those haunting eyes.
After cleaning the deer like I had been taught many years ago, I carried it back to camp and mom cooked the heart and liver for our dinner. It was delicious. Over dinner I remember saying, “Ya, know those eyes on that doe got to me. We can get store bought meat nowadays pretty easy, so why do we hunt?”
I think my brothers and dad and mom laughed at me but I didn’t hunt for another twenty years. Hunting didn’t make much sense to me because my four kids were pretty well grown and good beef was available from our farming neighbors. In addition I kept thinking of those doe eyes I had seen many years in the past.
I took my son in law to one of my favorite spots in Southern Utah with a friend of his as he said he wanted to go hunting. At the time I was living in Sacramento, California. The first morning of the hunt I found myself looking at a nice four point buck through my scope and then shooting below it on purpose and hollering, “Run!”
When I got back to camp without a deer the friend of my son in laws had shot three deer. The game warden caught him shooting more than one and took his gun away and fined him. I gave my deer rifle to one of my sons that liked to hunt and haven’t been hunting since.