Hunt

~The Tree of my Terror...Me, Dale in the Tree, and Robert~

~The Tree of my Terror...Me, Dale in the Tree, and Robert~

Morning and Evening Hunt~ 
6 Bull Elk
12 Cow
7 Moose
So many Mule deer I lost track

The morning hunt was utterly unremarkable. Nothing to even report.

This evening I was banished to the tree stand. I knew this moment would come despite my reservations and feeble attempts at hinting that I wasn’t so sure I, who has a slight aversion to heights, would enjoy hunting from a tree stand. Both Dale and Robert assured me it was easy, no problem, I was gonna love it. I don’t think they understand the concept of  internal fears, but I was willing to give it a try, the old climb, conquer and get over it theory.

My banishment started at 4:30 this evening. I slowly climbed the mountain to the tree stand taking my own sweet time hoping for some sort of reason, like a bull elk bugling somewhere, anywhere, that would force me to abandon the tree stand idea and head off on a new adventure. No such luck.

I climbed the ladder without much trouble, I think I even felt a bit of triumphant accomplishment when I arrived at the platform part of the ladder. That elation however was short lived. I leaned over and hung my hunting pack on the tree peg and than proceeded to stand properly on the platform. The minute I put two feet on the platform and turned around, life as I knew it ceased to exists.  I should have checked if Aetna or Aviva health insurance companies had a ‘falling from tree’ clause to cover me just in case. So I quickly sat my arse down, pressed my back against the tree, encircled my arms behind me to hold onto the tree for dear life, let my bow dangle from it’s strap around my neck and closed my eyes. No, life was no longer peaches and cream, it became more of a heart palpitations and cold sweat mixture of hell.

1 hour and 25 minutes….that’s 1,2, 3, 4……85 minutes of minute by painful minute pure terror. That’s exactly how long my adventure in panic and anxiety lasted.  It would have been shorter if I could have dug in my pack and grabbed my GPS unit to call for an emergency evacuation, but that would have required serious movement and I couldn’t do that!

So I sat there. And sat there. And sat there some more envisioning all the ways I would die in that tree stand. I figured either 1) I would fall and die 2) A branch would fall on my head and I would die 3) A bear would climb the tree and eat me and I would die 4) No one would ever come looking for me and I would starve to death up there and then the Sheriff would wonder why I starved to death considering there was a perfectly good Snickers bar in the backpack I wouldn’t dare reach for – regardless, I die 5) Heart Attack and I die 6) My bow strap was going to strangle me and then I would die………….and so on and so forth. You know, only the type of things an overly active and panicked mind could conjure up.

I was so frozen to my spot I was sure roots had grown out my ass, attached themselves to the seat and I would never, ever get off that stand. As far as hunting was concerned, a dream 400 class Bull could have sauntered up underneath my tree, grazed on some grass, laid down for a nap, bugled all his buddies in to stare at me and I would have simply yelled, “HELP ME damn you!”

Finally the worst and I guess (now) best thing could have happened. On about minute number 81, a hard wind kicked up suddenly and my stationary form of torture instantly became a new improved version of Nightmare on Tree Street. The tree started swaying back and forth, and that was enough to inspire a new form of motivation called, “get the f*ck out of the moving tree, even if it means doing a swan dive off the platform.”

At this point, I can’t even remember getting out of the tree. I think my mind has blocked it, repressed the nightmarish memory, but I’m here, clearly alive. There is only one last thing to say.  Dirt is my new best friend and trees the enemy. If I am to hunt out of a tree stand in the future, Robert will need to build me a four star tree house complete with shutters and a wrap around deck.

Signed, Non-negotiable,
Rebecca

For an explanation about my Outdoor Journal Series:
Please visit Outdoor Journal-An Introduction

For those seeking legit and helpful advice about tree stands and such, I suggest visiting Ben G Outdoors website for reviews about tree stands and other hunting tips!

{ 1 comment }

Outdoor Journal: Elk Hunting

by Rebecca on October 22, 2009

in Rebecca's Field Journal

First Day of Elk Hunting—-Finally!!
Morning Hunt Animals Seen:
3 Moose (1 Huge Bull Moose)
9 Deer
1 group of 3 bulls by themselves
5X5 bull at 65 yards
Another herd of 6 Elk
All by 10:30 a.m.

~On the Hunt~

~On the Hunt~

Dale and I got into excessive noise trouble right out the gate by talking too loud in the truck this morning. We not only got the ‘look’ from Noise Police Robert, but also a verbal reprimand. Now, we swear we were talking in hushed tones, but Robert seemed to think we were practically yelling. Good thing Robert can’t give legit noise tickets.

We drove around, a little scouting, a little binocular action, a little getting a feel of the lands. A nice way to start a hunting season off at ungodly morning hours. We finally settled on one area to establish our hiking legs and get some air in our lungs. A place aptly nicknamed “Forgotten Arrow Ridge” after my shameful and notorious greenhorn mistake of last year……..the time I had a Bull walk up to me at 15 yards and I brought archery shame (I’ll never live down) on myself by forgetting to put an arrow on before I drew my bow back (I’ll elaborate on that story another day)……..

Back to today. We went walking along Forgotten Arrow Ridge, Dale and I, keeping pace with Robert who was calling randomly to the elk. In my humble opinion Dale and I were walking quietly and we never got an all out ‘look’ from Robert. That is success in itself!

We eventually stopped and after one of Roberts calls, I heard a Bull respond back. Since no one else heard it besides me there were “questions’ of whether I was just hearing the bugles echo. I don’t know what it will take to convince these boys that there is no way in hell I would mistake such a sound because the implications of pointing down a hill and saying, “I hear one down there” means I’ll be sent “down there” and I’m not bailing off the side of a Mountain for any other reason then a legit Elk! No way. I never mention a bugle response unless I’m 100% positive.

It took a few more calls, but soon enough Robert and Dale both heard the Bull as well (HA) and off we went. Our timing was not good nor was the wind and within minutes Dale stopped me and pointed deep into a timber pocket. The Bull was stopped, staring directly at the hunting party trying to surprise him. Essentially, we were busted before we began, but Robert never cries uncle unless he watches a Bull running away so we sorta set up the best we could. Robert slithered back about 20 yards so he could call. Dale was right in front of me so he was front man on the shot and I sat directly behind Dale as back up.

Despite this movement, the Bull never budged an inch. He was about 65 yards away through branches and downfall. Personally, I don’t think we had him fooled for a second, but who knows in those situations. Now, usually a person sets up long before the Bull is staring at you wondering whatcha doin? So we were in a bit of a visual bind.

I being mere inches from Dale could tell he was doing required things…. Arrow out of holder….arrow on bow….bow sling unlatched….coat readjusted…and finally, his release was stuck up inside his coat sleeve and he was trying to get it loose. But from way behind in Roberts view, all he could see was major movement going on. I should also mention, Dales hat is a wide 360 degree camo hat. According to Robert the movement alone from this hat reminded him of a Bobble-head. Basically, a strobing beacon of HUNTER RIGHT HERE –RUN FOR YOUR LIFE.

Three times. Three times I braved extremely slow turns of my head to look at Robert behind us. These were not pleasant glances at him. At one look, and let me see if I can describe this correctly…Robert made a finger slashing motion across his throat that implied our impending deaths.  There were a few other threatening warnings as well. Eye piercings that practically popped Roberts eyeballs out of the sockets, hand signals and mouthed words I won’t repeat in protection of my new journal here. I did not mistake any of his signals for anything less than a thorough ass chewing with a side of possible death we–as in Dale and I through guilt by inches association—would receive once this was over.

I even whispered to Dale, “We are so going to get in trouble once this is over and I’m hiding behind you.”

Finally, after all of that, the Bull slowly, casually even, turned around and walked proudly away. Laughing I’m sure. At this point I slowly, fearfully turned around and prepared for a lashing. Remarkably our dear Robert forgot his throat slashing promises and walked up to us….smiling actually! I was amazed.

It took awhile, but the teasing commenced from Robert. Teasing we can handle anytime, all part of hunting. Robert has nicknamed the experience and Dale, ”Bobblehead” and swears he’s buying Dale a new hat. We all lived, including the Bull and had a great time.

Now if I could just convince them to call that ridge Bobble-head instead of Forgotten Arrow all would be good. Can’t wait for tonights hunt.

Rebecca

{ 0 comments }

~My waited out Antelope~

~My waited out Antelope~

It seems to me that sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes, irrational efforts and hunting/fishing go hand in hand. The pursuit of an elusivespot, un-populated destinations, or the regular run of the mill super secret honey hole has some of us performing acts of utter insanity to stake our claims. I know Robert and I can’t be the only ones who participate in drastic measures just so we can say, “we didn’t see a soul all weekend.”

For example:  There’s the short version and the long version of how we get to our super secret– if I told you my Husband would commit acts of violence he’s never considered before–antelope spot.

The short G-rated version. We leave the house, hours or so later we get there and poof, the next morning we’re hunting.

The long R-rated version and if you figure out our spot from this I simply cannot be held accountable in a court of hunting law. We leave the house, drive on pavement for 2 1/2 hours, then we turn right and drive the truck on a marginal dirt road for another hour or so. Next, we get to this one spot by some big rocks (hint, one rock is blackish) and abandon the air conditioning for open air and  4-wheeler only dirt road driving.

This is where it gets really fun. Truly.

The next 2 1/2 hours, or 39ish miles is spent keeping over loaded 4-wheelers from toppling over and sliding off the road from the over abundance of slate rocks on said ‘dirt’ road. In fact, as I write this I think it should be renamed to Slate Rock Road with jutting buried boulders of Un-ending Hell. There, now that’s more fitting.

It’s the sort of pretend road that wrecks havoc on your wrists, back and legs. You can not sit at any time during the journey lest you sacrifice your ass to the rock gods. It’s too rocky, too bumpy, too jagged and too unpredictable to let your guard down for a second. Standing up is smart ass protection and collision avoidance. The rocks like to reach out and grab your tires constantly and yank the handle bars one way or another. A loose grip is the only way to protect your wrists but even that cautionary stance allows for occasional handle bar impaling into the stomach. I’ve tested out various rates of speed while making that trek, and it seems no matter what the speedometer says, it plain sucks.

If we make it to the end of that long sadistic trek in one piece and the sad soul who unluckily drove in the back hasn’t passed out from dirt cloud inhalation, we abandon the 4-wheelers. Then we must hike 2 miles balancing essential hunting gear on our backs, over sagebrush, dry riverbeds, and lava fields that intentionally try to break your ankle with every stride. The only thing missing is the lions, tigers and bears oh my….however, the blazing sun makes up for the lack of Oz animals.

Coming in for a drink

Coming in for a drink

The good news is by the time everything is finally set up, the sun is setting and the only thing left to do is wait for the crack of dawn….I no longer care that baby frogs want to use the blind for their new home and snakes are slithering in for a snack. By that point I’m immune to just about everything the desert could throw at me. I’ll call that immunity by sheer insane exhaustion.

It is for those reasons I’ve shocked my husband on opening Antelope season by refusing to shoot the first Antelope that came into the watering hole 8 minutes past the legal minute. As we whispered frantically back and forth deciding if the buck was worth it, I finally put my bow down and said, ” I didn’t travel to hell for 8 minutes of hunting time. Non-negotiable.”

And a few hours later I got my buck.

So, is the insanity worth it? Other rational hunters must go to such lengths out there, right?? I do know this, that in that moment, when I let an arrow fly, it definitely was for me!

Aim True,

Rebecca

{ 3 comments }