Sunday was opening day for rifle deer and antelope in several areas of the state. I have two out of state hunters that I took out to guide this year. The first hunter is a former SSGT USMC DI and retired GM equip operator. The second guy is a machinist shop rat. Both are good guys that I’ve know for a few years. I’ve know the ssgt and been friends with him for years. I’ve known shop rat by association off and on for awhile, and went to college with his sister in law. Both have wanted me to take them hunting and they’ve been planning this trip for over a year. I know both of these men through church, this will be important latter in the story.
On Friday we were doing a little scouting and my hunters were near despondent over the amount of state land they had to hunt on since the whole area was mostly private ranch. They were thinking that I had royally miss lead them about the hunting.
Sunday , Shop Rat pops a dandy 13 ½ inch antelope buck with an awesome spread and great forks with just a touch of ivory on the horn tips. 12 hours latter SSGT popped a decent antelope at 388 yards. Not too shabby a day.
Near miss number one.
I intentionally left my rifle in the truck all day. The guys had paid a bunch for their tags and the trip out to hunt and I didn’t think I needed to compete with them for game. We toped out on a high ridge and Shop Rat said he saw a nice mule dear that had ran to cover under some scrub oaks. The entire rest of the area was short grass and they could have seen it if the deer had went anyplace else. I volunteered to scale down to the shelf where the deer should have been, in hopes that I would kick it up and they would get a shot off.
I made the walk down and across, no deer. But I did see a nice antelope out on the flats. Using the international sign for “get your butts down here right now” (waving my arm like a windmill in a hurricane) I tried to get the guys to come to me. They decided to stay put and glass the empty grass.
My arm waving was more then the 5 point whitetail buck could take. (In the west we count the points on one side of a rack, a 5X5 is a 10 point buck for you poor eastern folks) This bucks rear tines were over 20 in high and he had a good 26 or 28 inch spread at the front. He waited just long enough for me to discover that a revolver carried in a vertical shoulder rig is very comfortable way to pack a gun but a very slow way to get it into action. Then he bounded away.
Eventually we left the ridge and headed back to the truck. I was walking with the SSGT, who is incredibly curious. Which leads us to:
Near Miss Number two.
The SSGT asked me “what kind of hole is that”? I took a step up towards the hole and saw a prairie rattlesnake rear back his head to strike. I did three things simultaneously. 1.) said “Oh Shit” 2.) jumped two feet backwards to where I had just been standing 3.) grabbed the butt of my revolver and realized for the second time that a cross draw is a darn slow way to get a gun into play.
FYI rattlesnakes don’t always rattle, had I taken half a step closer to the hole I would have got bit without ever hearing a warning. Rattlers like to hibernate in winter dens, I found one. The snake that almost got me was a little guy only 18 inches or so. The snake just inside the hole was a 3 footer over 2 inches thick. Had I got bit by one I’m sure the other would have got me too. I didn’t see the rest of the snakes but as soon as one started rattling the rest joined in and they got real loud. The SSGT saw several go down into the den, we didn’t get a count but I think it’s a small den.
Just my luck, I mess up and cuss in front of someone, it has to be somebody that knows me from church.