“Surely you can get away for a couple of days!”
“If you’d tell me what you had in mind, maybe I could. So far you haven’t told me anything other than telling me I needed to go with you. You have not said where or why!” I replied. Good questions, since the last time my friend had called and picked me up, we were three hours on the road before he informed me we were still easily six hours distant from our destination, a ranch in central New Mexico. I had erroneously assumed we were simply headed to the local caffeine cantina. “Oh by the way you may want to call your wife and tell her you’ll be back in about five days. I promised Jessup we’d come help him work his cattle as partial payment for hunting later this year.”
The only clothes I had were the ones I was wearing. As I started to protest, I did not even have a toothbrush. “Ahhh, don’t worry, we’ll stop in Roswell, and you can buy some underwear, socks, shirts and a couple of pair of pants. Those boots you’re wearing will be just fine. You already are wearing your felt hat…it’ll be fun!”
Thankfully my wife had gone to visit her sister. I called her and told her I was headed to a “cow working,” then I called my daughter that lived in Uvalde and asked her to check on the house and pick up the newspapers. There are great benefits to being married to an understanding wife…
“If you must know, got an Axis deer hunt set up for us. Told the rancher you would be more than happy to be the cook for the three-day hunt. You do so, and we’ll get to stay a couple days beyond the guided hunters he has coming in.” I liked what I was hearing…but, with my friend there was always “the rest of the story”!
“And, pray tell, what will you do during the three days I’m cooking? Wash dishes? Build fence? Guiding?” I asked watching my friend stare off into the distance. Long silence, no answer.
“Don’t you worry, I’ll be busier than you’ll be cooking three full meals a day.” After which he mumbled something. But I did hear something about “fish”…
A couple of weeks later after three and a half full days of cooking and cleaning, the ranch’s clients left. As they pulled out the front gate my friend pulled in. After placing a pile of crappie fillets in the refrigerator, we gathered our gear for our Axis hunt. Both of us had decided to hunt with Ruger Super Redhawk, .44 Mag revovlers, topped with Trijion RMR sights and shooting Hornady’s excellent 240-grain XTP. A quick stop by the range where we both put six shots into a six-inch circle at 75-yards resting on shooting sticks.
Thirty minutes, seated on the ground behind shooting sticks, I watched a waterhole surrounded by Axis deer tracks. No doubt the local free-range Axis herds were visiting the site quite frequently.
The first herd to arrive consisted of mostly young bucks, does and fawns. Just as they surrounded the small waterhole, an Axis stag roared right behind me. I was glad I had sprayed down with TRHP’s Scent Guardian. Having done so the stag had no idea of my presence, even though the wind was essentially blowing from me to him.
He came, his long main beams, easily well over 30-inches long, complete with brow tines about 12 inches long and caudal points nearly as long. His roar was gruff, jowls below his lower jaw, and a bit of gray about his face. No use to wait for a bigger or older one. When he stopped at about fifty yards, I planted the red-dot on the point of his onside shoulder so as to hopefully also break the opposite shoulder. Took a deep breath, cocked the hammer, released all breath and applied pressure on the trigger.
At the shot, the old stag bucked, jumped forward and fell.
Moments later I was at his side whispering a prayer of thanks and started thinking of all the delicious meals my “take” would provide. Just then I heard my friend shoot. I wondered if I could con, I mean persuade him to gut and clean my buck. After all his hands should already be soiled by the time he came to pick me up….
Regardless of what is going on in the world, there are always small things, of beauty and splendor, for us to enjoy, admire and appreciate!
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