In the beginning... The First Hunting Trip
Howdy everyone! My name is Archie and this is my first blog entry. I have started this blog to share my hunting adventures, post reviews from time to time and to help anyone out there that would like to learn how to hunt but has no one to show them. I started out knowing very little, and for the most part, learned everything from reading and watching videos online. I hope that this blog will be useful to you in some way.
I grew up hunting small game occasionally but my father had hunted too much growing up and did not enjoy it enough to encourage me to expand my hunting knowledge.
Fast-forward 30 years and, other than the occasional gopher shoot, hunting was not an activity that I thought about very often. Then, two years ago, my father left on a two-week vacation and I was left house sitting at his ranch with very few options for entertainment. Then it happened. I was talking to my wife one-night saying goodnight when she mentioned the phrase that forever changed my recreational life. "Why don't you go hunting?"
Initially I thought it was a ridiculous suggestion but that night I went online to download the Saskatchewan Hunting guide to see what my options were. Being situated in “zone four” my options were limited to “either sex white-tail” or “antlerless white-tail”. I mulled over the options and went to snoop through Dad's gun cabinet to find the rifle and some ammo. The trusty Parker Hale was in the safe but I only found a few rounds of ammunition for it. Thinking I should shoot more than two rounds before starting out on my epic adventure the next day, I added a box of shells to my shopping list
The next morning, before going to town, I realized I might not have the right colours to wear hunting. Digging through my childhood closet, I found my old football jacket (red), a set of coveralls to wear and a blaze orange toque that I bought years earlier at a garage sale.
Then I was off to town to buy my antlerless tag, as it was the cheaper option and a box of Federal Power Shok 150gr .308 ammo. At the time, I had no idea what this meant but it sounded good.
Getting home, I donned my strange, yet legal, hunting outfit and went out to sight in my gun.
To my surprise, at 100 yards, the rifle shot a two inch group on my first three shots. I had always been a good shot but knowing this gun had not been fired in years it gave me confidence that if I came across a whitetail deer I would be able to take it down.
Now to give you a little background on the ranch, you could throw a rock in any direction, at any time of day, and hit a mule deer. This might be a little bit of an exaggeration but regardless we have a tonne of mule deer in the area. Whitetail is a different story all together. I had saw one a couple years ago when driving home to visit dad but needless to say I didn't think my chances were high to harvest a deer this year but at least it was better than sitting around and doing nothing.
After a quick lunch, I was out the door and in the truck on my way to the first big game hunt of my life. I have to say it was an exciting moment in my life and was looking forward to the hunt.
I had not driven two miles when I came across a herd of deer. There were two bucks and about a dozen doe mule deer. Although it got my heart pumping, I kept on driving.
Turning on to the goat trail that led to our pasture I made a decision to drive in about a mile then walk in about a mile to the coulee.
I started walking. And walking... and walking... and walking... I had forgotten how far it was to the coulee from where I had parked and it turns out that an office job does not provide that much preparation for walking a mile up hill, through snow, and carrying hunting equipment.
Before cresting the hill I decided to take a rest to hopefully slow my heart rate so that if the was deer on the other side, I would have at least a small chance to take an aimed shot.
After a few minutes I picked up my rifle, made sure there was a round in the chamber, crested the hill and...
Then I realized, "What am I going to do if there is something over the hill. I had not brought anything to drag the deer back to the truck on and I had not brought anything to field dress a deer. Never mind the fact that the last time I had thought about how to field dress an animal was when I was 12 years old and took the hunters safety course. I figured I had come this far and I wasn't turning back so I crested the hill and...
Nothing… Not surprising but I took my time as I walked the rest of the brush in the coulee but I still was not able to flush anything.
The daylight was running out, and so was my energy, so I decided to head home.
Getting home, I realized that I needed to think through what I needed for the next day. I went out to the cattle shed and found an old calf sled so that at least I could haul my prized game through the snow with ease. I then went back in the house and turned on the computer and navigated to YouTube. I figured I did not really have anyone that could teach me to field dress a deer but I though YouTube might have one or two videos.
To my surprise, there were hundreds of them. Some better than others but I found a couple useful ones and studied them carefully. I then found a knife that looked like it would work to dress the deer and went to bed.
The next day turned out to be the last day of the season and I wanted to make the most of it. I had a quick breakfast and was out the door shortly after daylight. I choose a different part of the pasture to go through today and set out on foot.
I spent the next six hours walking through coulees and brush trying to flush out a deer but, other than a few herds of mule deer, I did not see a single white-tailed deer. Discouraged I started home.
I was almost home when suddenly there was a deer that went running across the road in front of the truck and...
It had a white tail!
I jumped out of the truck, slammed the clip in and chambered a round. Brought the scope up and....
It had two spikes. No good for my antlerless tag. If only I was not so cheap the other day.
In the end, my first hunting trip ended with nothing in the truck but I was hooked. I made a deal with myself that my main reason for hunting would be the sustenance rather than the trophy. I did my research, watched countless videos on YouTube and the next year I entered the big game draw world and was drawn for antlerless mule deer.