The Hunting Experience
Birds: DO NOT WRING THE NECK!! Leave the bird whole and do not skin or remove the internal organs. Wipe off any blood and place the bird in panty hose to keep the feathers flat against the body. Take to your taxidermist as soon as possible or place in plastic bag and freeze.
Small Mammals: Leave the animal whole and do not skin or remove the internal organs. Keep cool and get it to the taxidermist as soon as possible or place in a plastic bag, remove air and freeze.
Fish: DO NOT GUT THE FISH!! Leave whole and take a picture if possible to help with painting. Take a very wet towel and put it around the fish and then in a plastic bag, making sure all the fins are flat against the body, and get to the taxidermist as soon as possible or freeze.
Big Game: DO NOT CUT THE THROAT!! Get the animal to your taxidermist as soon as possible, if not possible then follow these steps. For a shoulder mount leave as much hide as necessary for the mount, and remember more is better. Cut the skin around the body well behinde the front legs about mid rib. Then cut around each knee joint. Then join those cuts up the back of the legs and skin the hide forward to the base of the head. Cut the head off leaving the hide attached, then take to your taxidermist.
The day started out like any other, for September it was hot, dry, and a little breezy. I was talking to my wife and in-laws when I said jokingly, “I’ll be back in a couple of hours with a big buck.” I had decided to go for an afternoon hunt on a friend’s ranch, about 30 minutes from home. When I got to the third of four gates that's when I first saw the deer.There were five of them, two big bucks and three smaller ones. But at that time I had no chance at all of getting close to them. They saw me and they were on the move. But I thought to myself that's a good start, it was about noon at that time. When I got to the forth gate I stopped and got out to hunt. My plan was to walk a timbered ridge that had a spring at the bottom of one side and a big pasture on the other. In the past I have seen a lot of game there. I started to still hunt down the ridge, which is my favorite way to hunt with a bow or rifle; I can't seem to sit still long enough for any other way of hunting.
After a couple hundred yards of not jumping any game I was confused. The only reason there wouldn't be any deer is if some other hunter had already been there. So I kept on hunting hoping to find where the deer went. After I got all the way to one end of the property I decide to hunt lower; so I dropped off into the bottom where a stream runs through, and a spring feeds down a coulee into it. I hoped that the game would be where the water was. After stalking up the coulee a ways things happened all at once.
The bushes ahead of me started to move slightly and I got ready. My blood got pumping and I was dialed in. I took one step and then another until I was 25 to 30 yards from the choke cherry bushes. And then it happened. The biggest black bear I had ever seen, up close, stood up. I forgot to mention that ever since I was a little kid bears have terrified me. So there we were looking at one another for what seemed to be forever. In reality it was probably two seconds. The bear turned and ran up the coulee, and I turned and went the other way. On the way back to my truck I realized that the coulee the bear went up was where the truck was parked. So I made my way, very carefully, back to the truck with no more bear sightings.
As if that wasn’t enough excitement, once I got back to the truck and calmed down, I spotted the five deer. They bedded down in some tall grass, and were just over the hill from where I last saw them. All I could see were the tips of the two big bucks’ antlers. The stalk was on. I went down below them first and got the wind right. Then I proceeded toward the bucks and I got within 100 yards when I lost them over the horizon. I wasn't sure exactly where they were, until a little two point got up to stretch, or to get his buddy killed one or the other. But it helped me zero in on them. When he laid back down it was game on.
One slow step at a time until I got within 30 yards, and I could see all their antlers through the grass. I kept on going a little at a time. I got within 20 yards then 15, and then it happened. I could see the closest buck’s face through the grass. When I drew my bow is right when he spotted me. He stood up and I hit the release. Somehow the arrow hit him perfectly. I say somehow because I was so excited that I can't remember the aiming and shooting part. My buck took two or three bounds over the hill and expired. He is my biggest deer to date. His gross scored 163 5/8 and netted 1571/8; that put him in the Pope and Young record books. This was one of my most scary, exciting, and happy hunting days ever.
My husband, Tim, and I started our day off on the wrong foot. When we arrived in the Highwoods campground there were many other hunters preparing for the day. Those few that were still sleeping were not sleeping for long. Once we got our gear together and headed up the trail the alarm on the truck started going off. That was not particularly the highlight of our day. Tim got the alarm shut off and we started up the trail once more, apologizing along the way.
It was still dark and there was a slight chill in the air, but it was a beautiful morning nonetheless. Along our way Tim spotted what he thought was either a monster dear or a small elk atop the ridge. It was not light enough to really tell, and the animal did not stay long enough for us to get a better look. We kept going along the bottom for awhile. We walked in about a mile or so before we started up the mountain. When we started up the mountain was when it became “really fun.” The wind picked up quickly, and the temperature dropped a bit. Not to mention when we finally decided to go up, it was at a steep incline.