Liberal Wacko, Montana Division

The lost season
November 16, 2006, 8:08 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

For the past several years my life has been put on hold from late October through November so that I may participate in the ritual of hunting. I call it a ritual because we as humans no longer must hunt to survive, for the most part…we do it for sport, for the challenge, for some inexpensive meat in the freezer.

We still purchase hambuger, steaks, sausage, etc. from the grocer, and leave the business of killing to someone else.

Many hunters live for the kill. I derive pleasure from the entire experience. Watching the weather channel as I sip coffee and dress myself for whatever conditions may present themselves when I enter the wilderness. Double checking my equipment: orange vest, GPS, hat and gloves, snacks, matches (just in case), and most importantly my rifle and ammunition ( I have heard horrible stories about the guy dumbass who got to his hunting spot only to realize he had forgotten his rifle, or bullets).

Then comes the actual hunt. First, a nerve-wracking drive up a road that only an obsessed person would dare to take. Then the frozen mountainside. Only the sound of my footsteps in the snow and the lodgepole pines creaking in the breeze. Telling myself that if I were an elk, this is just the kind of hell-hole I would live in. The whole time that small rush of adrenaline from the knowledge that at any moment I could see the powerful bull elk, and take its life.

I have not yet had that bull elk present itself to me. It is still just wishful thinking, and I spend most of my time hunting mule deer.

Last year my daughter went hunting with me, and for the first time in all of our hunts together, we spotted a nice mule deer buck. I whispered for her to follow me, and to be very quiet. I found my spot, and took aim at the nice four by four buck, standing broadside less than 200 yards from us. It was then that she whispered to me, “Dad, you’re not going to kill him, are you?” I could hear in her voice that the sight of this majestic animal being shot was something she was not ready for. I worried about making a bad shot, leading to a prolonged and painful death for the animal, and a traumatic experience for my daughter. I lowered my rifle, and we watched it disappear into the trees.

I went back the next day, alone, and took my buck.

I spent every weekend in the mountains, and took some days off work to boot. I lived for the hunt. But something is different this year. I went out on opening day for a couple of hours, but have not gone since. My Browning 7mm STW sits unused. My usual passion for the sport has cooled this year, so I am wondering fellow hunters…has this ever happened to you? 


11 Comments so far
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I am not sure of your daughter’s age, but I was a young pup the last time a passion for hunting truly evaded me. I was introduced to guns at the age of 10, hunting by 12, and did not grow to love the practice until a few years later.

One thing that has stuck with me since (27 now) is a sincere distaste for violent death. It is absolutely…violent…and…deadly. I do not cherish the kill, only the hunt. And from time to time I must admit that the kill can take away from the hunt enough that were it not for the year’s supply of nearly free food, I would forego pulling the trigger.

It makes perfect sense to me that you are not out stomping the woods this year. I bet anything that if you truly needed the food, you wouldn’t think twice about it.

Comment by Gerik

I can relate to your difficulties,
however, mine have only kept me from
going this coming weekend. My
father-in-law and I have hunted
together for many years, and despite
the stereotypes, we are very close.
A year and a half ago he suffered a debilitating
brain injury. Going into the field
without him has been difficult, but
the draw of the wilderness is still
with me, so I go. The passion has
changed however, to more of a quest
for peace. As for the kill, I don’t
blame you for wanting your daughter
to be comfortable with her first
experience. I think all but the
most callous among us have a distaste
for the kill. I do, however, feel
a certain responsibility for facing
the consequences of my meat eating
habits. Finally, I would just add
that being in the mountains keeps me
away from my young sons, and that
is a separation I find difficult to

Comment by TMM

Perhaps it is because you are getting older and tend to slip and fall frequently.

Comment by p-hammer

I like to let p-hammer have his moment of fun ’cause he tends to shoot deer that are slightly bigger than his pug dog.

Comment by Scott

Now now, please bear in mind that p-hammer has sories that he could tell. Many, many of them. Where to begin…….scotter.

Comment by p-hammer

I’ve frequently felt like I didn’t want to hunt … most of my adult life, to tell the truth. Since I’ve turned 21 (many, many years ago) I’ve been hunting like 4 times. I know why I haven’t wanted to go out. Part of it is that I only had a hunting rifle for 2 years out of that span of time, and lost that as a casualty of divorce. And, I’ve never had a truck, or vehicle that could get into the winter woods. There were always other things to spend money on, like rent. And only once in my life have I ever gone hunting alone. That’s the most blissful feeling I can recall.

I’ve had lots of opportunity to hunt with others, but it just doesn’t appeal to me anymore. I enjoy going out with my neice, because she’s new to it. But, for the most part, hunting with others involves things I loath. 3 times, I’ve been with people who shot deer they didn’t have tags for, because I had one, or they could get their daughter to buy one we could stick on it. I loath poaching, even if it’s just filling someone else’s tag. I don’t stomach it well, and it’s always pissed me off. I’ve ‘filled’ many tags in my life, but (confession time) I’ve never shot my own deer. I’ve known too many people who think that’s a wonderful thing. I don’t. Whether it’s bad luck, or I’m just a sucky hunter, I’m well over hearing a shot, and being told to put my tag on an animal.

Too many of the ‘hunters’ I’ve gone out with road hunt. I really hate that. I like walking ridges, following trails, tracking. That’s the fun. My father always had us head up the ridge and flush the deer down to him at the orchard bottom. I didn’t mind that so much. But this driving around looking for an easy kill that seems so popular anymore is just distateful to me.

All that having been written, going out hunting this year has been so great for me. I’m fat and old, and I don’t care. It’s the best excuse I can think of for getting out into the woods. To be honest, I should be out there right now, but I’m still unprepared to be hunting alone. No tire chains, piss poor maps, and a sorry excuse for a backpack. Still, hunting is about all I’ve thought of for the last week. Don’t sweat it, Scott. The passion will return.

Comment by Wulfgar

And besides, I hear that they’re selling private hunts on Turner’s place for $135.


Comment by Wulfgar

This is my first season hunting deer. My first experience with a gun was around age 12. My dad took me rabbit hunting. I can still remember the weight of that 20 gauge shotgun, and the recoil that damn near killed me when I fired my first practice shot. I didn’t care for it so much. I shot about four or five shells to get the feel of the gun, then we took off to my dad’s rabbit hunting spot. We didn’t see much that day. I took one shot at a rabbit and hit it in the butt, and never found it. My dad bagged one that day. I remember watching him clean it in the backyard, and my mother cooking it for dinner. I remember biting down on a round piece of shot that was still in the meat. All in all, I thoroughly hated the experience. I think it stayed with me for years, as I did a two year stint as a vegetarian in my early twenties. Fast forward to about seven years ago. I move to Montana. My father gives me two shotguns, and a rifle. I learned to enjoy target shooting in the mountains. Then comes grouse hunting. I’ve never managed to bag one, but I really do enjoy getting out there in the mountains with my best friend, walking the old logging roads, poking around in the brush, hoping to flush a covey of birds. Good times. I purchased a deer tag four years ago, but we never did go hunting. I had pretty much given up on the notion of deer hunting after that. I’ve always been one who enjoys shooting wildlife with a camera instead of a gun. My hunting partner has a good saying… the fun stops when you pull the trigger. I’ve never been sure I could actually do it if/when I get a buck in my sights. This year my fiancee asked me if I would get a deer so we could have some meat for the year. I thought about it and we debated it, and I decided that yes, I would try. I’ve been out three or four times this season with no luck, but I’ve enjoyed the experience immensely. I’ve gotten to the point now that I really really want to get a deer, if for no other reason than to declare myself the “winner”. It’s something I’ve set out to do, and doggone it, I’m going to do it. I have been disappointed with the amount of people we’ve come across though. I’ve seen several of the road hunters that Wulfgar referred to, and that just pisses me off. I have close relationships with people that fill each others tags, and that makes me mad too. They’re excuse is “Well, he doesn’t have time to go hunting, so I’ll just fill his tag for him.” Well, guess what. If you can’t make the time to go hunting, you don’t get a deer. Plain and simple. I’ll be going out again this weekend, and again over the Thanksgiving holiday. If I actually get a deer this season, it may make me a hunter for life, or it may make me hate myself for years to come. Who knows. But if I get one, I’m sure as hell going to try that recipe of yours!

Comment by troutburst

I find hunting alone to be the very best experience, despite being warned that it is unsafe. I also enjoy hunting with p-hammer. He is the one who showed me how much fun it can be to climb straight up the side of a mountain, through overgrown brush, just to stand there in amazement and exhaustion as a buck jumps up right in front of you, and you forget that you have a rifle…
I appreciated his help when I got my first buck, and he helped me drag the damned thing back to the truck. The best part? Our boss was with us that day too, and my rifle sling kept slipping off my shoulder just enough for the barrel to hit him square on the noggin as we drug the deer out…not once, but three times!

good times

Comment by Scott

i know someone with a pug dog that likes to hunt… that sure is a small pug

Comment by troutburst

I went out yesterday morning up Little Bear. I couldn’t believe the number of people up there with 4-wheelers, or the number of people period. I’m not very used to that, I guess. I was good at getting above the ATV’s, but stopped when the road got to where it was a danger to drive the truck without chains. Still, there were people up above me with snowmobiles.

I quickly discovered another thing I enjoy about hunting alone: being able to weeze my way to the ridgeline without having to keep up with a better hiker than me. Northface, heavily overgrown, and way to steep for this fat old boy. The sun wasn’t even up yet when I reached the saddle. I was hoping that the motors would drive game up the clear towards me, but I only had a couple of hours (before I had to go to work). So, I walked the snowy ridge around to the clearings on the west-face, the sun came up and I could look over into the south valley. I found a terrific game trail, pulled off about a hundred yards, and sat my happy ass down with my face to the breeze. And waited.

So, I got skunked again. Maybe I do just suck at this hunting stuff. But I loved it.

Comment by Wulfgar

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