What you find below is written by my daughter, Cheyenne. I love this essay, mainly because it gave me a glimpse into a part of her childhood that did not include me. I did not go hunting with them, not because it offends me in some way, but because I was home with babies. I really didn’t mind at the time, and after reading her story I am so glad I was willing to stay home and let her hang out with her daddy. I hope you enjoy this story as much as I did.
“Hey, Daddy what time are we getting up in the mornin’?” I asked excitedly
“I’ll wake you up at four,” he said comfortingly, “Did you pack the ammo box, and your bag?”
“Yes, can I sleep in the truck?”
“Yes, you can angel, now go to sleep.”
This was how almost all of my hunting trips with my dad started, and it never failed, I wouldn’t ever sleep the night before the trip. There is many a thing I have learned from hunting with my dad, from how to live off the land to being patient. All of these things have turned me into the person I am today and helped my find my passion and what I wanted to be when I’m done with school. Now I am going to tell you about my first major buck…
That morning my dad woke me up at four like he said he would.
“ Mornin’, Angel,” my dad said quietly as he turned my closet light on, “its time to get up, your mom made pigs in the blanket for you.”
“Mornin’, Daddy.” I answered groggily as I rolled out of bed.
Now I had a very effective system for making a quick get away to the lease, this system merely consisted of me sleeping in what I was going to wear the next day. This system always had me in the truck and back asleep in a total of five minutes.
It took two hours to get to the lease. Most of which I was passed out in the front seat. When we arrived at the lease, I got out of the truck and slipped on my extremely massive coveralls, and got my gun out.
“Cheyenne is your safety on?”
“Yes, Daddy and I put some ammo in my pocket. Do you know where the pink marking tape is?” I asked as I remembered how my dad would always tell me how important it was that you mark your trail, so that you never got lost, this is something I have used and will forever use in my life, both spiritually and physically.
As I finished zipping up my coveralls, I started digging through the truck to find the tape, and like everything it wasn’t where it was supposed to be. Finally I found it, and off we went!
As we started walking Dad told me to look for tracks, and it wasn’t long before we found some.
“What kinda tracks are these, Cheyenne?”
As I studied them very thoroughly, I noticed that they looked like deer tracks.
“They look like deer tracks,” I answered confidently, “but they aren’t, they’re pig tracks.”
“Are you sure? ‘Cause you know pig and deer feet are shaped the same.”
“Yes, I’m sure cause the split down the middle is to long to be a deer.”
“Very good,” he replied proudly.
My dad was always real good about letting me know when I had done something right, or telling me when I was wrong and showing me how to correct it.
A couple of yards later we found something that would grab anyone’s attention- rubs. Rubs are very exciting to find, because they mean BUCKS! After all, that is the point of almost any hunt. You can generally tell the age of the buck by the size of the rub. A small rub will almost always mean a young buck, and a large rub means an older buck. The rub that I found was an average size rub and this rub was exciting because it was fresh! This was about the time when I started getting jittery, just waiting for that buck to pop out while we were walking the trail.
It seemed like we had been walking for hours and hours, but we finally made it to the spot we had picked the week before. We picked this spot because of the fact that it was a pond, which meant the deer and the pigs would be coming there for food and water.
When we had decided where we going to sit, we started making our blind. Now we didn’t use the man made stuff you can buy in the store, we made ours out of the natural décor. I found a couple of big limbs that covered me and provided a resting spot for my gun. When I had them placed where I wanted them, I then found some leaves and little branches and filled in the empty spaces around the bottom of the blind. Finally, I had my little hand-made hunting blind made to perfection. Dad used to tell me to look at how the rest of the area looks and try to make it look as natural as you possibly can. This comes true to life, there are times when you need to blend in with the rest of the world, and look like you belong there.
Hunting is a waiting game; it requires a lot of sitting very quietly and being patience. Now, for some people that may seem fairly simple, but to and eleven year old with a little ADHD that was incredibly hard for me to do. In case you have never been hunting, when you get still the rest of the woods are perfectly quiet, so any little noise that you might not hear other wise, seems very loud. I would hear every little noise and pray for it to be my buck, but most of the time it was just a cricket, but you never knew what it could be.
While I was sitting there learning how to be patient, I studied the plants that were surrounding me. With my dad sitting there right there I started quietly and slowly whispering the names to him.
“This is a dandelion, and this one is an oak leaf, right, Daddy?”
“Yes, baby, now sshh,” he said holding his finger to his lips, “and pay attention.”
My dad always had a way to make me be quiet, and that was always a look in his eyes, his eyes would be calm and assuring and full of love. I don’t know why but they always calmed me down, and in turn I would be quiet.
After sitting there for what seemed like hours, but was really only about one, I heard something that was more than a little cricket.
“Did ya hear that?!” I whispered excitedly, as I pointed over my right shoulder.
“Yes I did.”
With my dad saying this it meant my mind wasn’t playing games with me anymore, and there was actually something out there. As I turned very slowly, as to not spook what ever creature was behind me, I saw two does running through the field next to us. Since they were behind me and running, I didn’t get to shoot them. My heart fell as they disappeared into the thicket.
Once again, I was just sitting there waiting for the perfect moment. It didn’t take long before the crickets started making me jump again, and the wind moving limbs and leaves was my dream buck walking into view. Around ten minutes later we had a visitor.
“Daddy look! Its so cute!” I said as I giggled.
All my dad could was laugh and smile as I watched the cutest armadillo walk across the bank as if he where on stage. As the armadillo finished his show, I saw something out of the corner of my eye. Finally, a deer in the right spot for me to shoot.
“See how the doe is looking over her shoulder, and walking at a fast pace? Let’s wait and see if there is a buck behind her somewhere, ok.”
Those words were both disappointing and exciting at the same time. We waited and sure enough after watching the doe disappear and then come back into view a few times, there he was, the thing I had been waiting for all day!
“Daddy, Daddy look! Can I shoot him? PLEASE!” I asked as quietly as I could.
“You can get ready if you want, but he is still to far away to shoot.”
As I got my gun loaded and in position, the doe walked off again, but this time the buck stayed. He turned to where we could see his rack, seven points! As he walked down the bank he turned a little to the side, giving me the perfect shot. I put my gun to my shoulder, lined him up in the cross hairs, took a deep breath, and slowly squeezed the trigger. Just as I finished pulling the trigger, he moved! I still hit him but I had to take another shot, this finished the job. When we got to him, we pulled him up the bank and took a good look at him; this was my first buck that was larger than a spike!
That day, that buck taught me so many things: patience pays off, there will be many disappointments and distractions along the way, and you don’t have to shoot the first target that comes into view, because there may be something much better in the near future. This hunt along with many others made me realize how much I wanted to work with the wildlife, for which I have chosen to make my career, as a game warden.