The Real Time Canine II

After spending 2 years writing the Real Time Canine, the adventure continues with The Real Time Canine II. Read along as I look for just the right puppy to continue the experience. After false starts with Tim and Jed, I am currently training young Tam, and Spot, which are both off to a strong start. Please visit the RTC II to read about training sessions as they occur.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The First Time

These are horns from the first deer I ever killed back in 2002. There is an area of the ranch where I lived that we called the creek pasture, and I shot him where he was standing in a mesquite thicket with a few doe and a couple of little spike bucks. In the high desert region where this buck came from, they don't grow over large and you will never see the huge, rangy racks that come off Mule Deer in areas like Utah, Wyoming and Montana.

This was a Black Tail Deer, and a fairly good-sized one for the area. As memory serves, he weighed about 130 pounds and these horns are about 10' high and 17' across. Puny compared to North Rim, Grand Canyon standards where mineral-rich habitat creates Boone and Crockett trophys, but big enough to win the local deer pool had I been entered.

At the time, I had a young thoroughbred horse I was training for sale and every day I made a 6 mile loop on him from the house, around to one corner of the ranch, and back. The San Felipe Creek runs wide and shallow in the brush-choked creek pasture where a dike had been built to contain it from an area that had once been farmed. Part of my route took me along the dike, and I spotted this buck trotting away from me late one afternoon in the creek bottom. In that brief glance he looked like a giant, and that first season I was only interested in hunting the creek.

It's legal to hunt until an hour before dark, and we were just about to call it a day. We were walking slowly down the dike
and came around a big mesquite bush when I saw him. I always remember the scene as being cartoonish, because my ex was behind me, and I threw my hand up like something you'd see in a cop show, silently signaling him to stop. He almost ran into me. The deer was standing about 25 yards away, he was looking straight at me, and he wasn't moving. I was hunting with our very old, very worn 22.250 rifle, which I raised to aim. My ex thought my shot might be deflected by the mesquite bush and ever-so-gently nudged me forward whispering; "shoot him, he's nice." The memory of it still makes me laugh. I must have looked like Elmer Fudd. "I'm a wed-hot sportsman after wild game. Heh-heh-heh-heh."

He had taught me to aim for the heart just behind their elbow, or the area where the neck meets the shoulder. He had also taught me to inhale, then exhale halfway while squeezing the trigger. That buck just stood there while I squeezed off one round that hit him so hard he flipped completely over backwards landing on his back. With blinding speed, he righted himself and scrambled under another mesquite bush a few yards away, with both of us firing a few more rounds to be sure. My shot was clean and he died almost instantly.

A friend said he was on his way to the ranch where they were keeping track of the deer pool that year. I think it was $10 to enter, winner take all with bragging rights for the following year, and before the season began, I had asked him to put me in. We took the carcass to be recorded for the pool, but came to find out that I wasn't entered. My friend had forgotten to enter me, but had he done so, I was the winner by far. I bragged any way.

Shooting that deer is one of the most exciting things I have ever done in my life, and it took quite a while for my legs to stop wobbling after I did. As I remember it, my knees were slamming together. It was an adrenaline rush like you can't believe unless you've done it, and will always be a really happy memory. I hunted for a few more years after that, but it was never as exciting as the first time. I lost interest and eventually decided that I didn't want to kill deer any more. I've carried this mount with me through a handful of moves, and it's always one of the first things I hang. Real hunters of big deer would probably wonder why I bother, it's so small. But, a girl likes to remember her first time.

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