Jim's Outdoor Blog

Hunting, RVing and Great Escapes – Everything Outdoors

The Hunt of a Lifetime, written by Jessica Sherrard

           

        It all started in the spring of 2011.  My Dad had been talking about some special hunt that was early in the season.  Something about, best chance to get a big buck and we could hike in and stay a few days.  I was already yawning at this point and whatever was fine.  That summer my Dad went on a rampage, gathering gear and hiking into various wildernesses in search of a trophy buck.  I was lucky as I had been working and missed out on all these seemingly uneventful and supposedly brutal hikes. 

        The days were getting close and the dreadful day of loading our packs and going over checklists to ensure our survival on this “hunt of a lifetime” was nearly upon us.  Once we had all the gear crammed into our packs we put them on and sized them up.  Was he serious?  Did he really expect me to pack this thing three or four miles on some trail, just to camp for a few days?  Let’s touch on that subject….Camping.  His idea of camping was a one man tent with a thin pad and freeze dried food.  Not even a fire for hotdogs or smores.  No room for that, “he says“.  Better yet, how do we pack one out?  I have to admit one thing though, with my Dad as the guide, getting a buck was probably a sure bet.

        The first sign of disaster came on opening morning of the “hunt of a lifetime”.  I don’t know how anyone could expect a girl to perform at the top of their game when being woke up at 3:00 a.m.  I need sleep and it’s one of my favorite things to do.  I got up anyway and met my Dad at the door.  He was frothing at the mouth like some worked up horse at the gate and trying to rush me into the truck.  We headed out….he drove…I slept. 

        When we arrived at the trailhead it was three hours later and still dark.  We loaded ourselves down and using headlamps to illuminate the trail, we headed up the mountain.  He assured me it wasn’t that far, but we had been hiking about an hour when the sun started to show itself. 

        We stopped at the place where we decided to make camp and dropped off most of our load and then continued up the trail with pack frames and weapons.  I was beginning to wonder just how far we had to go to find a deer.  I mean this wasn’t the first time I’d been hunting.  It had always been pretty easy, just go to a clear cut and glass one up.  But right about now, I was wondering why we were we hiking to the top of what looked like the Himalaya’s to find a deer? 

        We finally stopped along the trail looking across a canyon into an open area below the timber line.  We sat down and started glassing and my die hard Dad fell asleep.

        When I woke up…..I mean when Dad woke up…..we started glassing the opening dividing the area between the two of us.  We were spotting deer left and right but, they looked a long way off.  After an hour Dad asked if I wanted to move up the trail another mile or so to another outcropping.  Seriously, like I wanted to hike another foot. It was starting to get hot already and I wasn’t ready to give up on this spot just yet.  I suggested we hold out a little while longer….so we stayed. 

        It seemed like only minutes had gone by and my Dad said, “There they are and both bucks are really big”.  He pointed out their direction and I was able to find them in my binoculars.  They were on the move and it was hard to tell just how good they were.  We watched as they made their way from the bottom switching back and forth through the brush until they finally stopped directly across from us and started feeding.  Dad told me they were too far for my rifle and that it looked like a job for “Elizabeth”.  That’s this absolutely, ridiculously, huge rifle that his friend Curt Mendenhall had built and he brings out only for what he calls “Special applications”.  This rifle is heavy and extremely loud, but, it wasn’t the first time I’d met “Liz”.  It’s a .338 Ultra Magnum and has all the bells and whistles for shooting out there a long way.  

        He told me the distance was 508 yards and turned the dial on the scope.  He increased the magnification and I could now see one of the bucks very clearly…it was huge…I mean, really big.  He went on with his normal banter about relaxing, both eyes open, easy on the trigger.  Then he said, “Wait, the other buck is the better buck”.  I don’t know what he was seeing, but the buck in my crosshairs was tall, had lots of mass, and was the biggest bodied deer I had ever seen.  Then came the small disagreement.  I told him there was no way it was bigger than this one, his argument was that I just couldn’t see his horns well enough because of the brush.  He finally gave in and said “It’s your tag.  Will you be happy with this one”?  I told him there was no doubt about it and got myself ready for the shot. 

        The gun went off nearly severing my shoulder and when I recovered from the recoil I could see the buck slowly rolling down the hill.  My Dad then said, “Look at the other buck; he’s out in the open looking for his friend”.  As much as I hate to admit it….the old guy was right.  That buck was much better in the horn department.  He was wider and just as tall with perfect forks and nice eye-guards.  My Dad just laughed and said, “That’s what you get”; as the buck walked off into the timber.

        Now for the fun part…we had to hike all the way across this canyon just to retrieve the deer.  It was very steep and in spots so rocky that you would just slide and fall.  We finally made it up the other side and found the deer.  He was huge, just beautiful, like a mini-elk sized animal.  He was still in full velvet and summer coat and Dad thought he looked like an older deer.  We took lots of pictures and Dad went to work putting the meat in bags and preparing it for packing out. 

        Once all the meat was in bags we started to load the frames.  We had staged them in a huge hollow log that was right next to where we had found the deer.  My Dad grabbed the last pack frame and disaster struck me once again.  Under the frame was my brand new cell phone.  I know, I know, what was I doing with my cell phone in a hollow log?   Anyway, it went sliding down the hollow log like an Olympic Luge, somewhere toward the middle of this log…and then stopped.  The words that fell from my Fathers mouth after that are far too long to list and I’m not even sure I could spell half of them.  It actually was the only thing funny about the whole ordeal.  We each poked and prodded into both ends trying to free the phone, in hopes it would slide through to the opposite end.  I was almost able to reach it at times, but the hole was just too small.  We were finally able to get a branch long enough to knock it loose and it slid within reach. 

        Then we began the long hike back to camp.  Coming out was tough and my Dad was nice enough to stop and wait for me on several occasions.  He climbed the hill with little effort as if he was born to do it…somehow that part of the gene pool skipped me. 

        Once we were on the trail again I began to think that if we stayed I would miss a day of school and I didn’t really want to do that.  We got to camp and I asked Dad if he thought we could just keep going to the truck and head on home today.   The look on his face was as if I was crazy and he asked if I was suffering from the heat.  I told him my thoughts and he began loading up the items we had and said that we would have to come back for some of it.  So, that’s what we did.  We hiked the guns and deer and part of our camp near the truck and stashed them and then went back for the rest.  It was a long, long day and it felt nice to just sit and relax on the way home. 

        I thought about how the boys at school were really gonna flip about my trophy buck and how much fun it was to just hang out with my Dad for the day.  It wasn’t so bad, maybe my Dad did know a thing or two about finding deer and maybe the reason he gets so worked up is because, he wants to see me be successful…maybe he even wants it for me more than for himself.  After all, he put in all the scouting work and was the one who knew where to go.  It really had been the “Hunt of a Lifetime” and I hope there will be a lifetime more of them just like it.

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February 10, 2012 - Posted by | Deer, Elk, Antelope, Big Horns and Such

3 Comments »

  1. Thanks for sharing your hunt Jessica. This is something you will always remember and someday,….someday you may be able to share that expieriance with one of yours and provide such a hunt. Would this not be a great family tradition?

    Comment by Scott | February 11, 2012 | Reply

  2. Jessica, You had my full attention in reading your story! Not only are you a stellar story writer and hunter but wow – that was a long shot! You are fortunate that you will be able to pick any road in life and be successful – you are very talented. Just when I thought I had heard and seen it all…. you rock girl! Thanks, Meg Eden Wildlife Biologist, ODFW

    Comment by Meg Eden | February 12, 2012 | Reply

  3. Great job Jessica! That was well written and very enjoyable reading. I heard a lot of those same comments from my son growing up and taking him places so he could experience a variety of hunting trips and successes. You’re right about your dad working hard for you to be successful and he does want it more for you than himself. That’s the love of a parent who wants to pass along the thrill and joy of sharing the outdoors with their children. Hopefully, you’ll pass that on to your kids one day.

    Comment by todblog | May 5, 2012 | Reply


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