Calling the big one in.
By Shey Hannum
I bet you’ve never heard a hunting story like the one I’m about to tell you; especially from a girl. This is the craziest hunting experience that I’ve ever had, along with being one I’ll never forget. Even though it might be hard to seem real, all the things that happened are true.
Beep! Beep! Beep! My alarm went off at 5:00am. I jumped out of bed already excited that I was going hunting with my dad. I ran upstairs to wake him up. Within twenty minutes we both got ready and piled into the truck. I asked where we were going today and dad said I got to pick. I picked a place that we hadn’t gone yet this season. We talked on the drive up the mountain and occasionally would stop to bugle, seeing if a bull would answer. A couple did, but they were pretty far off. We kept driving.
Sometime later, we stopped and I bugled. A big bull responded, not too far off too! My dad grabbed his bow and pack, and we went off to find the big guy. After a while we stopped and I bugled again. The bull responded. Suddenly, my dad froze and put his hand back in signal for me to do the same. Very slowly I looked around; we had come upon the bull’s cows. There were probably twenty feeding above and ahead of us. One cow in particular had spotted our movement and was bobbing her head to see what we were. She started trotting away and every so often looked back in our direction. The other cows knew something was up and in no time were all running over to the other side of the mountain.
Sighing, my dad told me that we wouldn’t be able to catch them since they were spooked. He said that we could try to go further up and maybe catch something on the other side.
We trekked up for a good hour and a half, by that time I was famished. We stopped on the side of the mountain where we had the whole view of the valley. It was so breathtaking! Dad took out our sandwiches and we sat on that hillside in silence just appreciating the scenery. It was then that I thought ‘It doesn’t get much better than this.’ While finishing up our PB&Honeys, I kept thinking about how lucky I was to live here in Montana.
Once again we set off up the mountain. I bugled and a huge bull answered, very close. I told dad that if he went and sat ahead of me a ways that I’d bugle him in so he could get a shot. He crept about 20 yards out in front of me. I bugled once and the bull screamed back at me. I got chills and smiled at the same time because he was so close. Dad pulled back his bow. I grunted into the bugle and at that, he came into sight.
He was beautiful, so huge! I heard him breathing and I held my breath so he wouldn’t hear me. Dad shot and the bull took off. I stood up with the biggest smile on my face as I looked at dad. “I missed” he said and my face fell. We checked for
blood or hair and when we found the arrow, that confirmed the miss. We decided to head home.
On the way home, we found a road and followed it back to the direction of the truck. While we were walking, something moved under my boot. I screamed and saw that it was only a Gardner Snake. He jokingly said “surprised you didn’t call something in.” I laughed and at that moment something crashed in the brush above the bank. A bloodcurdling cry rang out and I jumped behind my dad, panicked! A mountain lion had attacked a deer! I was freaked out and my dad pulled out his pistol. For a few seconds we just stared at each other and then just as stealthily as it had came, the cat disappeared.
Safe to say we booked it out of there in a hurry. Although we didn’t get anything that day, I will never forget that amazing experience. Seeing a cat attack a deer is not something you see every day, not to mention seeing a 7×7 bull either! This is definitely one of the most memorable wilderness experiences that I’ve ever had.
Shey Hannum was the Thompson Falls High School winner of the Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness 2016 scholarship essay competition, which features essays from high school seniors in Thompson Falls, Noxon, Troy and Libby, Montana, and Clark Fork, Sandpoint and Priest River, Idaho.