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Grouse Hollow Journal

Grouse Hollow Journal: Hunting offers time to meditate

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I finally did get out to sit with a weapon in hand. One evening I sat in a chair in a fence line watching an unpicked bean field. There were lots of birds, particularly blackbirds, who were apparently only waiting for this moment to arise — and land and arise again and again in unbelievable gracefulness. I saw squirrels, but no whitetails but I was shivering, so...

I sat at the Oak Stand one evening, strapped in, overlooking the meager forest clearing that used to be the home of a muddy water hole and three long dead apple trees. I saw five tom turkeys wander by the opening in the fence. After almost three hours of nearly perfect sunset weather and squirrels at play, my back and knees amped up their complaining, reminding me that I had the promise of a hot bowl of chili and I had promised to be in by dark, so I quit — right at the best time I imagine. Growing old ain’t for sissies.

I sat in a west facing stand last Thursday evening overlooking our nearly overgrown Christmas tree meadow. The sunset was a simple affair of moving clouds and sun rays, turning spectacular for only a moment. I watched birds and red squirrels, finally climbing down again at the just too early point. I did spy a deer on the far side of the field; of course it had already spied me. The wind was in my favor so I tried a stalk. Then got busted 100 yards out. I was shown the whitetail’s contempt as it flipped me the Odocoileus virginianus equivalent of the bird, its large white flag bouncing into the Corner Woods.

Anyway, the time was not a waste. I enjoyed meditating for a bit.

Now, here is a better hunting story: Our mountain man Ben and his wife Christine live in Gypsum, Colorado. Of course longtime readers know that he grew up hunting in western Wisconsin. He has been hunting in Colorado since 2003. He has taken wild turkeys, mule deer bucks, and cow elk. On a snowy Halloween day, he killed a dandy bull elk high up on a ridge on public land in North Central Colorado. Here is the story of the hunt he sent us:

“I was hunting with my buddy Jay. We were five miles up in the backcountry, hunting in snow. The bull came across the meadow at 100 yds packed in a group of (elk) cows, so I didn’t have a shot. As they were working away from me and I thought I wouldn’t have a shot; then they broke up the group and started feeding right at the last place I was comfortable shooting. My trusty ski pole shooting sticks worked great as my 300 yd first shot hit him in the spine as he turned while eating, he stopped, I shanked the 2nd shot due to flinching and dropped him with a double-lung 3rd shot. He didn’t take a step from the first shot and was piled up in the snow. Jay and I deboned him and carried the whole thing out in one trip in a blizzard. Another buddy, Wookie met us about half way down and lightened the load a bit.” (He estimated their packs at 190 pounds plus their firearms, day packs, and the antlers of course.)

Ben later posted this on Facebook: “After a lot of long days put in having awesome times in the woods with friends and Mother Nature, two days ago I harvested my first bull elk. Big thanks to Jay Vestich and Wood Look for the help on getting this guy out of the woods! A lot of hard work and even more miles than I can count went into this through the years and it was worth every step. Going to eat well this winter!”

Anyway, we were pleased and proud.

Until next time, get out — drivers keep your eyes open for running deer that are oblivious to anything but love. Gun deer hunters, time is running out on getting your shootin’ irons sighted in and/or repaired if they need it. Ammunition could be hard to come by as well. I only have three .270 rounds left, but I am good I think. Ellen’s dad, Walt used to say, “You only need one.” Enjoy.

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