Tom's World: Photograph and story by Tom (tomWYO@aol.com)
I love the hunting season, been hunting all my life. Nothing like spending a couple weeks in the back woods stalking that elusive prey. But this year I could not take the time off I wanted so I would sneak in a day here and a day there. I had left home about three thirty in the morning, going over in the Sheep Creek area hunting mulies. I found my road off the main one and drove a couple miles down to a place I had camped earlier this year. Had been out scouting and it had started to rain, man did it come down. The son was with me so we quickly pitched our old GI issue WW II pup tent and got our bedrolls out before the rain hit hard. It rained most of the night but the funny thing was, about dawn a dang Bull Moose knocked our tent down. Not germane to what I am a telling but shucks I thought it funny, dang Bull Moose rousted us out.
Well anyway this was a beautiful Tuesday, oh in the mid 50s, as I found this little outcropping where I had seen lots of signs before. I hunkered down and sipped my coffee and ate two apples and a Power Bar. I saw nothing, well except for a big fat porcupine that went across the trail.
After the sun had been up about an hour, I gave up and started walking and hunting. I found some fresh droppings and I could see my truck, so for a reference I looked up on the mountain and saw a big whitish rock. I was set. I always carry a compass but never use it; my instincts have always served me well.
So I started to follow the tracks going away from the fresh droppings. I thought I heard something but it was only a squirrel in a tree.
About an hour later, nature called so I found a nice place to squat. As I sat their doing my business I heard something. I looked and dang a big four point buck come walking along, not 50 yards from me. By the time I pulled up my trousers and reached my rifle he had heard me and was gone.
Noon time came and I continued to track that big buck, not seeming to get close enough to see him. Then two o’clock and I knew I was getting close. Four o’clock and the shadows began to lengthen. Soon I would have to head back to the truck.
I stopped and looked at this big old quakie, one with some initials on it. Old initials. “Hmmm. Dang, this is the third time I have seen that tree,” I said with a laugh.
I stopped and studied the ground, and sure enough I had passed this place twice before. This was my third time. That danged old buck had me walking in circles.
I stopped, thought, and began to look for my big whitish rock so I could get my bearings.
I did not see it.
I walked over to a clearing and still did not see it.
I swallowed twice and thought, “Oh boy. Old man, you are all screwed up. Now where in the blue blazes are you?”
I sat down on a stump in the middle of that clearing and ate my last apple, a 4016, a nice juicy one. I left a real fat core on the stump and walked over to a large rock formation, and there I started to climb to the top.
My foot slipped. I stopped, got my balance, and then I looked back into that clearing toward the stump.
“Well I will be danged, there in the clearing was that big four point buck. Quickly I cranked a round into the chamber of my old Springfield 06, raised it to my shoulder, and drew a bead.
Click, the safety was off. I took a breath, let half of it out, and started to squeeze the trigger.
Then I stopped.
I can’t shoot him because I don’t know where I am. How will I get an animal out if I don’t know which way to go?
I removed my finger from the trigger and put the safety back on. Then like the dang fool I am, I let out a big, “Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeehaw!”
Well, that old buck took off and I stood there laughing. I removed the round from the chamber and climbed to the top of the rocks.
“Dang, dang, double dang!” for down below was my truck! It wasn't a quarter mile from me. I had let that big four-point buck go. (Oh, for you Eastern folks, a four-point buck out this way means four large tines on each side of the antlers, not what a ring will hang on or little tiny tines.
I walked back to my truck and headed home. It had been a pretty good day. But it would have been better if that old buck had not taken me around that ridge three times, playing with me.