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.
The view was beautiful, but the climb not so much. It wasn’t very long before my legs started to ache and cramp. We made sure to pack plenty of liquids, so I stopped to re-hydrate. The wind was relentless, but we kept moving on stopping along the way for my legs to rest. Unfortunately for Tim I was not quietly taking the pain. I repeatedly asked him why he brought me. He was a true sport about it, but I know he was asking himself the same question. Through the wind and my complaining, we finally made it to the top. It only took us three or four hours, when it should have taken us approximately one to two.
I was not in good shape, and my legs were starting to burn. What is more, we hadn’t seen or heard anything since the deer/elk. We saw a lot of sign, but nothing else. We walked just below the ridge alongside the tree line; to stay out of the wind and see if we would have any better luck spotting some game.
We spent another hour or so on top, and I just couldn’t go any more. Needless to say I was not a happy hunter. I was ready to go home. I know that you do not always get to see animals, and it is just nice being out enjoying the mountains. Unfortunately, I could not focus on the beauty of the outdoors while I was sore and achy. Tim agreed to leave the mountain and head back to the truck. He took the high road and I took the low road, so to speak. I went straight down to the trail, and he took a slightly different route, hoping to jump a deer or an elk out of a bed. About halfway back he met me on the trail. He hadn’t seen a thing, neither had I. Right before crossing the creek to get back to the truck, we finally saw something. The only problem was it was a pheasant. What in the world was a pheasant doing in the mountains? Well, at least we saw something.
We got all our gear loaded in the truck and headed home. Tim did not really want to quit hunting. He suggested that we go to a ranch and see if we could get permission to hunt. I told him that it would be fine, but I was going to stay in the truck and he could do the hunting. On the way to the house he spotted a nice whitetail lying in the field. He was excited. I was starting to get a little excited myself, but I really didn’t want to move. We went to the house and got permission, but were afraid that the deer would be gone by the time we got back to the spot.
It was our lucky day. The whitetail was still there. We parked a ways down from the deer. Tim kept saying that I needed to go after my first whitetail. In a way he was my cheerleader. I finally got out of the truck. I have to say my heart was pounding and I was excited. I told him that I wasn’t going to be able to move very fast. My legs were really cramped. He took the deer cart and said to follow him. We needed to sneak up behind the deer. Luckily the field had enough rolling hills to it that we did stay out of sight.
At this point I was hobbling behind my husband, and he was just encouraging me to keep going. I am just not sure who was more excited. We put the perfect stalk on this animal. He was sitting atop a knoll looking away from us. The wind was in our favor as well. We got within a couple hundred yards and Tim said to get in position and take the shot. I knelt down and propped my 30-30 on my knee. The wind was still relentless. I just could not hold the gun steady in this position. I told Tim that we needed to get closer; I could not make the shot. The closer we got the more I forgot what pain I was in. We were hunched over creeping up on our prey. We got about a hundred yards away and tried again. And again I could not keep the gun steady. Tim said well let’s get as close as we can. We snuck right upon him. We couldn’t have been 60 feet away from the deer when he finally realized we were there. He jumped up in a run. I lined up my sight with his shoulder and followed through and took my shot. I think I stopped breathing for a minute or two, and then realized that I got him. I was ecstatic. Tim was pretty excited too.
So to make a long story short, what started out to be a miserable day ended up being one of my best. It just goes to show no matter what mood, pain or frame of mind you’re in, when you have a chance to harvest a wonderful deer, or other game, you forget about all of that, and focus on the moment. I enjoyed being out with my husband and sharing with him my first whitetail hunt. Thanks Deer, I mean Dear.