We had hunted hard for days looking for a Colorado Mule Deer. My muscles were sore, and I was tired. Hank and I loaded into the truck and headed to the trailhead. As we drove, I told him “I don’t feel good today. I’m tired and sore.” He didn’t even acknowledge my words. He knew that I would be good to go once we got there. I sipped my coffee slowly this morning and thought of the days before.
I had been in the mountains looking for a good shooter buck for days and had not spotted many good shooters. The couple of good ones I did see did not present good shots. They were either too close to homes or just plain, not good shots to take.
One buck that I so desperately wanted stood broadside on a ridge. He looked at me as we did the stare-down for about 15 minutes. I stood there and wished for him to move. He did not. He stood there, skylined with only his rib cage slowly moving in and out with his calm breaths. I just felt he knew I couldn’t shoot him there. Who knows what may have been on the other side of that mountain or where my bullet may fly as it passed through? It just wasn’t a good shot. He seemed to know it as he stood there staring at me. I imagined him pointing at his two brown eyes with the two points of his hoof and then pointing at me. He was giving me the stare-down, and he said, “I got my eye on you, sister.” He won the stare-down. He never budged, and I slowly slunk back into the trees away from him. I continued to sip my coffee and imagine.
I finished my coffee as we pulled up and parked at the trailhead. Today it was daylight as we unloaded. I jumped from the truck and threw on my blaze orange as I decided that buck wouldn’t get the best of me. We headed off with high spirits, and the soreness quickly worked out of my fatigued muscles. Right off, we spotted a cow elk through the trees. She listened but never saw us as we slowly and quietly snuck through the trees.
We were so excited today because spotted a lot of animals right away. Today felt like the day. We jumped a small fork horn buck. He hopped down and over the edge of the hill. Then we saw 5 does. We were looking at them when a tall 4×4 stood up and ran off. He was the one! We formed our game plan and made our stalk.
We stalked quietly across the flats and around the brush. We went through the little valleys, and I was ready. My heart pumped with excitement. We found his tracks and knew which way he was going. It would be hard to sneak up on him for sure. The ground was dry, and the sticks would crack under your feet. We looked at one another and knew we had to be as silent as possible. We turned and went down a small arroyo and onto the side of another hill. We didn’t make a sound.
We silently stalked, and I had thoughts of the Indians and how they are connected to Mother Earth. I felt her beneath me and then I felt it as she kissed my cheek. I knew today was the day.
Hank motioned to me. There he was. It was the 4×4. Hank had spotted him. We eased through the trees, sage brush and tumbleweeds getting a clearer shot. My heart jumped again. There he was!
I prepared for my shot as quietly and motionlessly as I could. I steadied myself as I stood on rounded river rocks. I adjusted my rifle on my shooting stick. I centered my crosshairs. I focused. I took a deep breath and squeezed the trigger. I quickly pulled my bolt, ejected the spent shell, and re-loaded. Looking through the scope again, I didn’t see him! I looked up over my rifle to double-check… NOTHING!
Hank, whispering, whooped and cheered! “You dumped him!” I couldn’t believe it. I looked again and waited just in case I hadn’t hit him well. I looked and then pulled my binoculars up. I couldn’t see him. Hank said, “Mia, you dumped him.” I still stood there. I was ready for another shot. Hank said I will show you. He ran around the ridge to where the buck was as I watched and waited. All the while, I was ready just in case that buck moved or got up. I watched and watched and then I saw Hank coming from the trees. He moved toward where the buck was with a smile on his face. He pointed and smiled then gave me the thumbs up. The buck had dropped right where he stood and lay right behind a dead cedar tree. I had dropped him!
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Mia Anstine is an outdoor writer, licensed outfitter, hunting guide, life coach, keynote speaker, and range safety officer, firearms instructor, and archery instructor. She is the founder of MAC Outdoors and Host of the MAC Outdoors Podcast.
Mia Anstine strives to encourage others to get outside, hunt, fish, shoot, and survive life with others in a positive way.
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