THE WAIT IS WORTH IT
by Bob Record, Master Sportsman
There are some things that are worth the wait!
Finding the right spouse. The birth of a new child or grandchild. The new pick up or hunting dog you have been saving for. Getting drawn for a tag you have been applying for year after year.
For me, it was a Mulie!!
I have been fortunate to hunt whitetail and elk many times with some wonderful results. The Fall crispness, spectacular color and tremendous heart-pounding anticipation are hard to beat. I had seen Mule Deer before but had not had a tag…or they were too far…or on property I didn’t have access to. You know how it goes!
But last December it all finally came together. I loaded up my gear, flew to Oklahoma City and got a vehicle to drive the rest of the way to the Pampa, Texas area of the panhandle. I was with a great friend, George Atwood, with whom I had hunted whitetail many times, and in Africa four times. What a highlight it is to hunt with a great friend because of the shared passion, the memories that are built, the adventures that are experienced and the bond that is formed.
After a short night’s sleep we arose before dawn and headed out to meet our guides by the ranch we would hunt. As we arrived in the pre-dawn darkness we went as far as we could via truck and then I took off with my guide, Wes, on foot, and George took off on a four wheeler with .
The morning was brisk as we made our way to a ridge that overlooked merging ravines, then settled in and started what is the key to Mule Deer hunting—glassing. As dawn broke, the deer started moving and we started getting excited. Does were spotted in multiple directions , often 400 and 500 yards away, and we knew one truth above all….when the rut is on and you find doe, the bucks won’t be far behind.
As the day progressed, we saw some bucks but nothing I was interested to take a shot at. We finally decided to move and scout a new area. Wes spotted a buck bedded on the point of a ridge that was a real possibility. We had to crawl and duck walk for a couple of hundred yards to get a better look. The buck’s rack was tall, but not wide. My trigger finger itched…but I just wasn’t sure this was the one I had waited for. Wes left me and worked around counterclockwise to get a better look. When he got back his assessment was that the buck would make a unique trophy both due to his height and some unique kickers.
I was torn, remembering two things I had heard hunters say repeatedly…
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
Don’t pass on the first day and animal you would take on the last day.
After a long internal struggle, I made my decision, I would pass. As we eased away I began to second guess myself. Would I get another chance? Would I be sorry? Would I end up having to wait another year?
As we made our way back to the truck to get some water, Wes’ cell phone vibrated and it was George and George had already taken his mulie and the text said, “We’re on our way. We spotted a Big Boy so tell Bob to be ready; we’ve got to make haste.” Through our binocs we saw them tearing down an old rutted road to get to us, so when they pulled up we jumped on the four wheeler and with everyone hanging on to anything they could, we tore across the ranch to get to where they had spotted the Mr. Big bedded down with a doe on a far ridge of a canyon. Keeping out of the deer’s sight, slamming on the breaks, we hastily crawled to a lookout point where I got my first look easing around some large brush…and my heart skipped a beat. He was HUGE…and he looked regal as he had positioned himself to see, or smell, anything that might pose a threat. THIS WAS THE ONE I had waited for.
Wes whispered, “You’ll need to take this shot lying down. Are you ok with that?” Immediately my mind went to a significant back injury I had experienced several years earlier in the lower neck area which made it very hard for me to shoot from a prone position. I almost said I would rather kneel but due to pride kept my mouth shut and answered in my best male-macho voice, “Sure. No Problem.”
Easing my way to the best possible position, and lying down on my stomach, I sighted through the scope and that’s when I felt the stab of pain in my neck. But I knew I could do this. Why admit a weakness and look stupid? So, sighting in and taking a deep breath, I squeezed the trigger. The buck, lying next to his doe, was hit and immediately jumped up. But, that was the wrong move!! He was supposed to just roll over. That’s when I realized I had hit him in his front leg folded beneath him, and had missed a clean shot to the chest. As he tried to limp away, struggling due to the leg wound, I shot again… and missed. I’m a pretty good shot, but now I was not only hurting, I was embarrassed.
My next shot put him down, but he was still moving. And now I was out of shells! In my haste, I had left them back at the truck just before we got the text while we were drinking water. I had been going through some things in my jacket and laid my back-up shells on the truck bed only to forget them when we had to jump on the four-wheeler.
Calling to George that I needed a gun, he ran back to the four-wheeler, retrieved his, and his guide ran it to me. With borrowed gun in hand, a bruised ego in my heart, I aimed and pulled the trigger and my prize mule deer buck went still. As we made our way around the ridge, I was shaking my head and kicking myself for being hesitant to simply say the fact of a weakness I had in my life due to an injury from years back.
As we got to the fallen trophy my breath was taken away. He had suffered no shrinkage as I made my way around the rugged territory to claim him. He was huge! And I was beyond thrilled!! He turned out to measure 169! And I realized…THIS WAS WORTH WAITING FOR!!
But I also learned, and was reminded of a few things…
If you have a physical limitation, don’t let pride get in the way, and always tell your guide. It is nothing to be ashamed of.
Don’t let excitement get you in such a rush that you forget the very things you may need…like extra shells. Be deliberate and thoughtful. If you take something out of a pocket or vest, put it back in immediately just in case something happens fast.
Take the time to work to a position that works best for you to take the shot. I could have taken a kneeling position with shooting sticks and most likely taken my buck with one shot.
WAITING is worth it! It does pay off!!
(Bob has done wild game dinners and sportsmen’s events across the nation. You can contact him through his web site at www.totallifeimpact.com where you’ll find wonderful endorsements of call Bob at 202-579-5052 to book your event.)