Monday, August 24, 2009

A Day Out Hunting

This post by threecollie of Northview Dairy reminded me of a wildlife encounter. Go read her charming story, and come back - or not! I ain't gonna judge. Heh.

Western Kansas is typically referred to as flat - and yes, it is. But, little creeks, or draws as we call them, have cut into the prairie over the centuries resulting in some fairly rough country. Often, you can see across, but not have any idea what is in front of you until you about fall in. Most of these areas are not tillable, so they automatically become pasture ground. One such area is behind my house - the Buckner "crick" - lies at the bottom of a pretty decent "cut." It's also part of a path that wildlife follow from the Arkansas River to Hodgeman County - the path goes through a lot of pastures (remember, the ground is too rough to farm) with windmills - so there is fresh water every few miles. This little area is a bit deeper and rougher, and there is a bend in the crick that has undercut the bank - with a rock outcropping - that has been a coyote den off and on over the years, among other animals.

So, it was time to call coyotes, and this little area was as good a place as any. I parked my pickup about three fourths of a mile on the north side, and started walking in. Arrayed in camo, with my Model 10 Savage in .243 on a high bipod, a small set of binoculars, and a couple calls - I was up for some action. I found a slight knoll with a little scrubby tree and some weeds. I pulled up some nearby weeds and settled into the scrap of cover. The wind was blowing from the south, so that's the way I watched. It wasn't blowing very hard or gusting much - just enough to have plenty of fresh air. It was strong enough to make the nearby trees sigh and wave. The sky was a light blue with a few scattered clouds marching to the north.

Pretty idyllic, if ya know what I mean.

So, I started my wounded rabbit call. I'd do a few calls, and go quiet, waiting to see if any 'yotes would show themselves. I scanned the trees, and I had a fairly decent view of the draw for about a half mile - so if one or more popped around the bend, I'd have 'em scoped out. Rifle at the ready, I'd call again, and wait.

I tried for about an hour or so - I'm not really sure, because time does pass differently when you aren't concerned about it. Apparently, there were no curious coyotes within listening range, or I just sucked at calling. I had given up the north country, because my odor was surely being wafted to the north. I'd turn around once in a while, but not very often. Little movements and all.

But, all of a sudden, there was a sound like car doors slamming behind me - car doors at a distance. Or maybe pickup doors at a distance - and there was only one that I knew about back there. Was I getting robbed?

I eased around to look. I found myself staring at a mule deer buck and his little harem of two does. Curiosity had driven them to me just to see what was up with all the noise. They stood about fifteen yards away, inspecting me, wary, yet relaxed. The buck sprang forward a bit and his hooves slammed the ground. I'd heard them sproing into position behind me - my pickup was safe. He turned and regarded me again, he and the wimmen folk. They were magnificent, up close - the vitality of their breathing - expanding ribs, shimmering leg muscles under tight skin - I watched in wonder.

I had a perfectly good deer rifle in my hands. It is my deer rifle, as a matter of fact. But, it wasn't deer season. I always get whitetail permits anyways. But to be honest, I couldn't have shot one of them even if all the i's were dotted and the t's crossed. They finally decided I wasn't much of anything at all, and, bounding to the west and then gradually south, they disappeared into the kinks of the draw, streaming across the ground with leaping bounds.

I guess my wounded rabbit didn't suck after all.


threecollie said...

What a nice really made me smile. And thanks for the link.

Earl said...

Don't know why mule deer would want to find rabbits, but the story rocks.

Jeffro said...

They're just nosy and curious.