Making Meat

Horn hunting is fine, but it can be feast or famine, and when it's slow my cook pot starts to look pretty empty.

You see, my family depends on wild protein for the table, and at some point in every season, I stop being selective and start to make meat.

That moment came last weekend. It was time to tag a couple of fat antlerless whitetails with my bow, and I didn't want to be constrained by a tree stand or a ground blind. Instead, I scouted out a couple of actively visited alfalfa fields, donned my camo and hit the ditches.

On the Milk River, our agricultural economy is made possible by an extensive irrigation district, and a series of ditches move water from river to field. Those ditches are dry now, and they make great ambush corridors. Get in a ditch, stay low, and put the wind in your face, and you can walk right into bow range of just about any deer in the neighborhood.

I did just that on Sunday evening. I had seen about a dozen does and fawns feeding in a small field earlier in the day, and worked my way down an irrigation ditch toward a point where they were likely to cross to access a neighboring field.

Besides the bothersome mosquitoes, the plan worked just right, and pretty soon a doe fed toward me. A little too toward me. By the time I got my bow ready, she was about 10 paces and coming face on. I looked for a quartering shot, but she was close enough that I chanced a straight-on shot. It was good. The broadhead cut her windpipe and her jugular and anchored in her spine. She dropped in her tracks and bled out nearly at my feet. I nocked another arrow and waited for the remaining deer in the field to settle.

Pretty soon another antlerless deer fed my way, and gave me a classic broadside target. Within about 3 minutes I had two does down.

Record Quest is all about big bucks, but at some point every hunter needs to take care of the basics, and for me, there's nothing more elemental than bringing fresh meat home to the freezer.