Thursday, August 20, 2009

Gone A-Huntin'

Ahhhhh camping. I haven't been camping in the mountains in... over a decade. Seriously. And the last time I went camping at all was in high school, but that was at the beach so I don't think it counts with hubby.

When I met hubby I found out he (and his dad, brothers, and cousins) hunts. I didn't freak out at this like I probably would have as a wimpy high school girl. And he hasn't done it much since we met so it definitely wasn't a big deal. But he won an $800 bow in a raffle recently and archery season started last Saturday. So a trip was in order.

Here's the thing: when hubby goes hunting, he roughs it. Like, the site we use is one that he and his cousins cleared out years ago. You don't pay for a site. There's no nice sodium lights spaced randomly around. And there's no bathrooms. You have to drive about ten minutes to get to a bathroom. Further if you want a shower.


But we had a lot of fun! We went up Monday afternoon without being sure we would be able to stay the night (I had to call after five to find out about jury duty). Obviously, I didn't get called in so we were able to stay two nights and come back yesterday. If you're at all familiar with the Sierra Nevadas and the Central Valley, we drove up past Shaver Lake and Dinkey Creek. We actually had to drive across the Wishon Dam to get to hubby's favorite spot.

By the time we got to our site, we were at about 7,000 feet. The craziest part? The top of the range is 7,300 feet. We were 300 feet from the top of the Sierra Nevadas! That was just so insanely cool to me. Maybe I'm a nerd. But check it, those trees up there are the tippy-top.

So lucky me, hunting involves realtree camouflage. I wore a pair of hubby's old pants (it was like flashing back to high school, remember when I wore baggy boys' pants mom?) and a jacket that's just slightly too small for him, but still big on me. Here I am looking all wildery.

Basically, we got dressed and walked around. Quietly. The best times are supposed to be sunrise and sunset. That's when deer are on the move. But in all three of our trips out (one in the morning, two at dusk) we saw nothing. No deer tracks. No deer poop. And no deer. We did find bear tracks and bear poop though. And because I love all of you, here's are pictures. Poop, back paw, front paw. (Great, now there's a picture of poop on my blog.)

That's not to say we didn't see deer though. We spotted this doe on the way in Monday. She just stared at us and continued eating her pile of dried horse poop (I'm serious). Unfortch in California, doe aren't legal. So we continued on our way.

Tuesday we drove down to the little mountain store and on our way back spotted another doe and a buck. But he was barely a buck, his antlers were only spikes. So technically he's called a spike. Unless you're me. I don't know terminology so I told hubby that he "hasn't sprouted yet." And now I'm calling him a bucklet. You know my affection for that suffix.

Then Wednesday we did our sunrise hunt. It was cold, and we wanted to go further than we had before, so we took the Blazer and drove around a couple roads. We got out and hiked one trail, which is where we found the bear tracks (semi-fresh too!). Finally is was about 8:30 and the sun was up so we hopped back in the car and I started the drive back to camp (still slow, on the off-chance we saw something). Then, just chillin' in the road, there was a buck. Three-point (meaning three points on each antler). Hubby was out before I even stopped the car. He was gone for maybe twenty minutes. I watched him draw back on the bow once, but then he changed his mind and disappeared. He came back empty-handed and said that he didn't have a good shot.

Quick explanation here. When hunting deer, you want to hit the lower third of their torso. That's where you can get a shot at the heart and both lungs. Hubby didn't have a shot of the lower third. So he would have had to track it, and the dear would have been in serious pain. Which, contrary to popular hippie belief, good hunters don't want. That's right people, hunters aren't evil. Anyway, he didn't take the shot and the buck took off.

Now we're planning another trip. Hopefully next week, but we'll see. Hubby's determined to get that buck. And now we know where he hangs out.

So my first hunting trip was a good experience. We'll see how I deal if we actually bring a dead animal home in the car next time... and for sticking with me, have some more pretty pictures.

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