Posted 11/14/12 (Wed)
Writing this on Friday morning. Deer season opens at noon. The storm gets here about 11. Icy roads, rain turning to snow, and blizzard conditions developing. Hope everyone stays safe out there. By the time you read this, those southern boys driving those big trucks up here will have met a North Dakota winter! I hope everyone is OK.
I’m not much of a hunter. I used to be a pretty good shot, but not much of a hunter. Because good hunting entails walking. And I am not a real good walker. So, usually hunting involved the 40 mph sneak with a pickup, or hunting horseback. Let the horse do the walking.
But these methods could be, although not as strenuous, plumb dangerous. I remember an Indian friend who hunted a lot on horseback. He had a nice gentle horse that he could pack a rifle on. Although not very accurate, he would occasionally take a shot without dismounting.
Now trust me, shooting from horseback is not quite as accurate as it is deemed to be on TV. I mean, I loved John Wayne in the Shootist. Wyatt Earp, and Chuck Connors as the Rifleman. But most human souls cannot shoot quite that well from a running horse. And my friend was way more mortal than these great souls.
Anyway, my friend was packing a 22 caliber rifle one day. Just to shoot a couple of prairie chickens if he happened across some gentle ones. Which he did. Riding down a dirt trail on the reservation and there came a dumb chicken out on the trail. Right in front of old Dobbin. This Indian cowboy pulled Dobbin up and slid his rifle from the scabbard. Old Dobbin, who was usually a little gaunt, put his head down and went to eating grass.
That old chicken was right out there in front of him. Head in the air and looking back and forth. Just begging to be shot for dinner.
Rex was just smiling to himself and could almost taste that tender grouse. Cooked in thick gravy and served with wild rice and Budweiser. It was only about a 10-yard shot. A shot he could make in his sleep. He sighted down the rifle barrel, slowly released his breath and squeezed the trigger. At that instant, the chicken clucked and Dobbin threw his head up.
Bang! A finer shot you never saw. Old Dobbin caught that slug right between the ears and dropped like a rock. The grouse let out a squawk, which they say sounded a lot like a laugh, and flew over the ridge.
Sad, but true.
Another time, I was hunting deer with a friend from Dickinson. Now this guy made me look thin. He was a big, fat guy who always had a cigarette in his mouth. And he wanted to hunt along the river.
We were on a ridge looking down on the river bottom. Now, it is a long way down to the river. A steep winding trail. I tried to persuade him that walking was not going to be very good for either of us. We were miles from a hospital or doctor. Our hearts were more in tune to dice or cards. But he assured me he was a cross-country skier and in better shape than he looked.
I felt sorry for him as we headed down that canyon. We walked down one canyon and started back up. We missed the 30-point buck because we were puffing pretty bad. The walk back up that hill was torture. I felt sorry for my partner for about 10 yards. Then I started to hurt.
By the time we got to the top, he was carrying my rifle and jacket. If he had been kinder, he would have also carried me. Sometimes it is better to just get old and talk about hunting than to actually participate.
Hope you are having a good fall!