Adventures of a Modern Day, Middle-Aged Hero, on the Glory Road(to family security)


Trusting Karma.

Hunting, as a sport, has a lot in common with golf.  Yes, in both you can do a fair amount of walking, although you can also get spoiled by riding around in your cart/ATV.  Both activities also have a defined set of rules, but for the most part, once you are 'playing the game', you're on your own.

Maybe not totally on your own.  In golf, you've got your pairing or foursome.  Chances are, they are people you know and they have a very similar set of morals.  They play along and chuckle when you take a 'mulligan', and tee off a 2nd shot.  If you went home and told your wife you FINALLY broke 80, your golf buddy wouldn't remind you about the 3 putt you had on hole 11, so really you only got an 81. 

This is much the same for hunting.  Even if you are out with your 'hunting buddies' for the week, eventually, it will come down to you, your gun, and that animal. Each scenario is different, and as much as you may talk about things over a beer around the camp fire at night, you don't always know how you are going to respond to ANY situation.  You can squawk about game wardens, but out here in the wide open west, well, I think I have encountered wardens about 3 times in 12-15 years of hunting.  I've never once had one ask to inspect my vehicle.  You are on your own honor.

Saturday morning, I found myself having to make those type of decisions early. 

The Tri-Cities to Pomeroy where I was hunting is 110 mile drive, that takes about 2 hours.  For 4/5's of that drive, you are going through some pretty rural areas...wheat fields, corn fields, alfalfa fields...and the wild Palouse.  Deer country.  When I left the house it was dark, but because I left a little later than I wanted to, dawn found me leaving Dayton instead of arriving in Pomeroy. 

Over the next 20 minutes, I saw at least 30 deer, including two REALLY nice bucks.  I wasn't yet in the area where my doe tag was legal, but any buck with more than 3-points on one side WAS legal.  The part that wasn't legal is that I was sitting on Highway 12, a two lane paved road.  Oh...and the farm house 50 yards behind me. 

I was tempted.  I pulled my truck over at least 3 times, and once I got out of the truck, and capped my muzzle loader.  It was a NICE buck...at least a 5X6.  And nobody had drove past for at least two minutes.  And the deer and the rest of it's herd were moving, so it wasn't some fancy trap. 

I didn't take the shot, obviously. No...I'm not trying to pat my own back...I'm not a hero, I just weighed the risk/reward, and decided it wasn't worth it.  Would it have been nice to have a 5X6 in the truck by 7:00 in the morning, opening day?  Oh, hells yes.  And there is about a 96% chance I would have gotten away with it.  There was no fence to go over, no 'No hunting/tresspassing' sign.  Just that road, and even then, I had already jogged across the road, so while I might be shooting along it, at least I wasn't shooting across it. 

Bah...in the end, 50 lbs of venison wasn't worth the 4% chance that some county sheriff drove around the bend in the road right as I was shooting.  Or the several minutes it would have taken me to load 180lbs of dead buck(Heck, think big 220lbs!).  Heck, in reality, if anyone in that farm house had cared, they were just as likely to thank me fo removing that dastardly deer from their life, as they were to get mad at me.  It just wasn't worth losing my rifle, my truck, or the ability to go hunting for several years.

In the end, I just couldn't take that shot, or the next two that presented themselves.  I had to trust that by doing the right thing then, I would be given the opportunity to be done right by later.

Besides, if I had put a deer in the truck that early on Saturday, I would have had to spend Sunday at home doing chores... 

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