My First Big Game Animal-How I got started hunting.

10 10 2013

This post originally appeared on Ladies in Camo website at http://ladiesincamo.com/lictoth/2013/05/04/diane-hassinger-my-first-big-game-animal/

Life is not fair!  Or at least that is how it seems to a twelve year old.  Add to that wanting to hunt and fish when neither of your parents enjoys either.  Add to that being a girl in 1972.

I wanted to hunt so badly, I would check out every magazine and book on hunting I could find at our local library.  Outdoor Life and Field and Stream became my educators.  I asked so many dumb questions of anyone who even vaguely knew anything about hunting.  I spent hours weekly riding the deer trails on our horses, observing the patterns of the deer.  I could ride right into a group of deer without them taking too much notice.

It seemed like divine intervention when my friend Cheryl talked her father into taking us for our Hunter Safety Certification.  We had about 30 participants in the course; 28 boys, me and Cheryl.  We took a lot of ribbing from the boys, and even a few of the fathers.  They felt we had no place in a “boys” class.  We didn’t mind, or at least didn’t let on to anyone that it bothered us.  Cheryl’s dad, having 6 daughters, was very supportive of girls being able to hunt.  His support made a huge difference in the tender sensibilities of a teenage girl.  By the end of the course, only 2 students rated a 100% on the test; me and Cheryl.  Instead of the boys being happy for us, they made sure we knew that hunting was a male sport.

I spent my teenage years fishing, hunting small game, riding horses, and high school sports.  I didn’t have the opportunity to do a big game hunt (anything bigger than a turkey) until I married Dale in 1979.  Both of us hunted to feed our growing family, and after the kids got big enough they joined with us.

My first BIG game hunt was for Elk of all things.  I had always enjoyed shooting my bow, but lacked the courage to try to hunt with it.  Finally I gave in to my need to go further with hunting and scheduled a hunt.  To say I was scared is an understatement.  I had studied shot placement till everyone was sick of listening to me question them.  I was shooting my bow hundreds of times a day to build up to a higher poundage.  I have the need to over study and research anything I am doing.  I guess that is my OCD.

Finally the day arrived and we took off on this next chapter of my life.  Dale was and still remains very supportive of me.  So I needed to do this not only for me, but to prove to him his support was not wasted.

I remember climbing into the “tree stand”, which was an old pallet nailed into a Y of a tree.  I had to watch where I placed my feet, for fear of slipping through the slats.  When I think of this now, I have to wonder “What the heck was I thinking!” No harness (no one wore them then), no pull up ropes, you toted everything up on your back, no cell phone, radio or gps (GASP!).  My tree stand was on a well-worn trail on the side of a steep embankment.  I tried to listen to every little noise, and kept glassing, looking for any sign of movement.  I did have a range finder with me, and had ranged several trees and rocks in hopes that I could use them as a range indicator.

Suddenly I hear what sounded like a stampede.  There were several cow elk and a 4X4 bull elk coming into range-fast!  I drew my bow and waited for the 4X4 to get close enough, and shot!  He turned tail and ran back down the hillside.  My guide who was a short distance away, heard the commotion, and headed over to me.  I still don’t know how I got down that rickety wood ladder; my knees were shaking something terrible.

We waited a short while, all the time my guide was asking was it a good shot.  HUH??  I think so, I don’t know, I was so nervous I couldn’t even remember.  Finally he gave up trying to get any useful information out of me, and we started after my bull.  We found him about 60 yards below my stand.  However he was still on his feet, although he was swaying back and forth.  The guide said to stick him again when I had a shot.  I told him I could shoot now.  He said “no you can’t”.  I said I could and released the arrow.  My shot was perfect!  He dropped instantly, of course rolling further down the hill.  “I can’t believe you made that shot” to which I replied “I told you I could”.

diane elk

The bad part of all this was that my elk was now at the very bottom of a very steep incline, and the truck was at the top.  By the time we had it loaded onto the truck, I was exhausted, but still exhilarated!  Later when we butchered the elk, we found that my first shot clipped the heart.  He was dying, just didn’t know it yet.  The second shot was right through the heart and 1 lung.

My 4X4 was mounted and hangs on our living room wall.  He is not a trophy to a lot of hunters, but he is a trophy in the true sense to me.  He was a big part of my confidence in my hunting abilities to be able to go on any hunt that catches my attention.

To this day I feel the pressure to prove myself capable, to prove my abilities, to compete with ghosts of my past.  Now I know I am up to the challenge!

Photo Credit:  Diane Hassinger

Excerpts from Huntingmotherearth.com in Hunter Safety Course 1972  https://huntingmotherearth.com/2012/03/15/hunter-safety-course-1972/

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The Adventures of Edie Ott-A Buck of a Lifetime

2 04 2013

The post was originally published on Ladies in Camo at http://ladiesincamo.com/lictoth/2013/04/01/edie-ott-buck-of-a-lifetime/

For several years I have tried to get drawn for one of the most coveted hunting tags.  Each year I knew this is it; I will finally be going on one of my bucket list hunts!  No such luck, until now!  This would be my once in a lifetime hunt!

When they contacted me that I had finally been drawn, a thousand questions popped into my mind.  I needed to know; what is the best time of year, what type of weather, best caliber, and of course the best person to guide me.  As luck would have it, my loving husband knew exactly who should guide me on this history making trip.  He is awesome that way!  When he realized I would be hunting this famed animal, he did everything in his power to make it happen.  And so arrangements were made, and off I went.

I didn’t realize how hard the hunt would be, both physically and mentally.  I sat in tree stands, blinds and stalked the meadows.  I would scrutinize every small sound or movement.  I was beginning to think they didn’t exist.  I had never hunted this hard or long for anything, without seeing at least one.  But I don’t give up!

The last morning of the hunt, I was feeling deflated, but I can’t shoot one in camp.  So off I went, once more.  This day started off much like the rest of them-nothing!  Then just before I was going to call it quits, I saw movement off to the left.  It wasn’t much; in fact the movement was so slight you could have almost imagined it.  I kept watching and wishing.

Finally I could see a small amount of antler.  Something was there!  It really was!  Slowly I made my way into a position to make out the animal clearly.  This was an extremely time consuming process, since I had to belly crawl over briars, rocks and poison ivy.  You try belly crawling when you don’t want to touch anything below you!  Eventually I was able to see the whole animal.  He was of mythical proportions!  I had found a Boone and Crocket to be sure!

I slowly slid the safety off of my .22 and tried to get my nerves to settle down.  This was an epic moment for me!  My heart was racing!  I took a deep breath and squeezed the trigger.  Never have I heard a .22 bark like that, it echoed in the silence.  I saw the buck hunch up and take off.  I knew I got him good!  I waited for what seemed an eternity and went to find the blood trail.  There was a good trail and some fur, this should be easy.  I followed the trail for 20 yards more or less, and there, laid out in some ferns was my trophy buck!!!

I sent a text to my guide and husband.  Of course they thought I was joking, so I sent them a picture.  I am the only hunter that I know of that has actually tagged an elusive legendary jackalope!  I apologize for the picture, but my husband was so impressed, he couldn’t stop laughing while he took this.

I like to challenge myself, so next up on my bucket list:  a Snipe Hunt!

Finished Jackelope

Happy April Fool’s Day Everyone!

Photo Credit:  Photo Shop and a little Imagination