Quantcast
  1. Sign up now and join over 35,000 northwest gun owners. It's quick, easy, and 100% free!

The Ultimate Trophy (If hunting is your life and passion)

Discussion in 'Northwest Hunting' started by Spitpatch, Nov 15, 2013.

  1. Spitpatch

    Spitpatch Forest Grove, Oregon Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,801
    Likes Received:
    836
    As a hunter since the age of 4, I've got a moderate amount of trophies I am proud of. At this stage in my development, I have discovered something much more valuable than any animal I have put on the ground.

    I spent a significant amount of money, and a significant amount of my workplace benefits to be able to devote an entire month hunting in the state of Montana this year. I killed nothing bigger than a prairie dog. Yes, the Whitetails were on the rebound and plentiful, the Muleys were there as always, and the lion's share of the month was spent with bow and arrow. I came closer to killing a Pope and Young 5-point Whitetail than perhaps I ever will again. A yearling doe detected me and protected him. An experience I will recall to my dying day if my mind is sound. I thought THAT 45 minute stalk was more than worth all the effort and expense. I found it dwarfed later in the hunt.

    Mahlon is the grandson of my closest friend in Montana. His grandfather and I started hunting together when we were 10 and 12. We have not missed a season now for 46 years. Mahlon was old enough to join us two years ago. I call him the "Buck Stealer", because two years ago he killed a trophy Muley when I was 20 minutes behind arriving at the same thicket he and Grandpa kicked out the monster and he dropped it with one shot from a .243 rifle I'd built and supplied for him. Mahlon wears the moniker proudly and with a grin every time I call him that. Grandpa Derek and I wonder about his hunting career: Where do you go when you start from the top?

    Then Mahlon met disaster: Last year he could not hunt, hospitalized with a courageous bout (18months now and counting) with MERSA. Don't ask me details about the germ: I don't want them. What I DO know is that Mahlon's problem started with a simple abrasion or scratch on his knee, and developed into multiple surgeries, including serious consideration of amputation. When I hunted last year, Mahlon could not join: rather, I visited him in the hospital where in good spirits he showed me the horrendous incisions on his leg. On more occasions that we all care to mention, his mother, his grandparents and I all thought we might lose him. Loss of a leg to preserve his life became the thing to hope for. Prayers flowed.

    Prayers change things.

    Still on a regimen of antibiotics (which he has to be reminded to take: I don't think in his juvenile perceived immortality he realizes the gravity), he came to camp this year. His efforts in getting up to speed with schooltime lost from the sickness convinced his teachers he could certainly take a week and hunt with Grandpa and Unka Bruce (me).

    He arrived in camp three weeks after the opener for Antelope season in Montana (during the time that is so precious in that state when a rifle hunter can pursue both Antelope and Deer with a rifle). The Antelope were stirred up, and not complacent or unaware of their situation. Grandpa Derek and I had a furrowed-brow conference, and I readily agreed to start chasing Prairie Goats with the Kid, and relinquish a couple days toward filling my Montana non-resident Deer Tag. There are times when money don't mean squat. For me, it was a no-brainer on two counts: I'd MUCH rather chase Speed-Goats than Deer any day: I'd even venture to say that after 48 years of chasing them, I'm a fair hand at it. At what some might call my "maturity" in my hunting career, I'd MUCH rather guide someone of limited ability toward a trophy. (Anybody who hunted with me after Antelope would seriously challenge any contentions of "maturity": I instantly become 10 years old again.)

    Mahlon arrived about noon or so in camp. He and I went on an "exploratory" or "scouting" hunt that evening in a favorite area known to hold Goats. It must be mentioned here that Derek (Grandpa) and I gave up vehicle hunting over 20 years ago. We enter, survey, find, and stalk all Antelope areas on foot. Vehicles have in our technique become only the means to arrive at a general area and the means to retrieve down game. We find the animals calmer, we have a true hunt with opportunities for strategic stalks that no hunter operating from a vehicle can ever realize. We meet these majestic and noble animals on their own terms: our legs against theirs. We do well at it. (Quite often the Goats do MORE well).

    We walked in, and I was pleased that Mahlon's legs seemed to be operating finely, with the only evident impediment being his natural teenage sloth. We came to a lookout point, and (to my fault) I spotted what I thought was a lone Antelope nearly a mile away. I asked Mahlon if he was as stupid as I was. He looked at me quizzically, then answered, "Sure!". We went out towards it.

    "It" turned out to be a white foreign object of some sort (but only determined to be so after we'd covered half the ground to it). I cast around with binocs, located a herd of Goats about a half-mile away, and what I thought was a medium buck in the group. To make a long story short, we stalked toward them, but cattle interfered, ran to the herd, spooked them and with light failing in the evening hours, our "scouting trip" of a 5 mile walk was terminated. We hustled to get back to the ATV's over an hour later and in dark.

    Back at camp, it was agreed (quickly by me), that upon the next morning Mahlon and I would go again hard and deep into that area, try to locate that herd, and then circle around into a series of buttes overlooking the drainage that Grandpa Derek and (Mahlon's) Stepdad Tibor would be hunting Deer. I cautioned Mahlon that we would be hunting hard and far again. He gave it no second thought. I do not know what conversations he had with Grandpa. Derek knows me to be "one-directional and tunnel-vision" where Antelope are concerned. He has suffered for it on multiple occasions. I can only hope he gave the Kid some warning.

    Mahlon and I went in with advantage of no "Sunset Clause" on our hunt this time. After a mile and a half of walking and glassing in first-light, we located the identical herd. Bigger than we thought. Cows in a situation we thought we could circumvent. We were wrong. Cows busted the Goats again. Goats gone and away.

    But wait! Goats went a mile up the valley, took a gentle right, and then started running/trotting (still a mile away) along the series of buttes we told Derek and Tibor we would gravitate toward if we found no Antelope.

    Picture this: Antelope herd of 15-18 spooked and traveling fast a mile away, but going to our right, along a series of buttes. Visible to Mahlon and I only occasionally, as the Pronghorns weaved their way through those buttes.

    I told Mahlon we needed to move fast, continue fast, work hard to the right in the (apparently futile) hope of an interception. We are humans with two legs. Lungs and legs less than half of a Pronghorn's Pleistocene lungs and legs that kept them safe from Sabre-Tooth Tigers. We could only try. The immensity and expanse of Eastern Montana cannot be described to any person not having been there. We pumped. With every step we took, we knew the Antelope were taking 5-10 (and that was only if they'd slowed to a trot).

    I spotted a "China Hat" butte on the pinnacle of the ridge that I thought might offer us an advantage for altitude (but only if we could overcome the real-estate digestion of the herd). I directed Mahlon to its prominence and said, "We have to be there, Buddy! We have to be there!". The Antelope presumably (since we hadn't seen them for about 5 minutes) had gone over the ridge, and perhaps (I prayed) might be traveling in the original direction just below this butte.

    We got there. Mahlon had gathered some hidden reserve of strength and resilience, and I told him, "Go prone! Go prone!" (Work with me at the Billings rifle range had supplied him with what this meant.) He hit his belly and was set. Almost all his easy practice had been done with shooting sticks or shooting off a fanny pack. I told him that in this case, he'd have to rely on his elbows for a regular prone shot. He had this information in his tool belt as well, and went to it like a duck to water. All was perfect. More than perfect. We arrived about 20 seconds prior to the herd walking calmly from around the butte. Does first, of course. Then a junior buck. "Small buck there, take him if you want him, but I think the big one's coming if you want to wait."

    Mahlon waited.

    The primary buck emerged. Lazy and in the back like usual (stark contrast to hysterical stampeding we'd witnessed only 40 minutes before). Mahlon was set. I advise, " There he is. Put the crosshairs right on his shoulder, hold it there, and when he stops, touch the trigger."

    A serious distraction occurs: Two does decide our little China Hat butte is very attractive, and stroll literally within 20 yards (easy bowshooting distance) of us. We fear they will spook and alert all. That does not happen before the buck stops. Mahlon misses the brief opportunity, does not pull the trigger. The buck is at 200-225 yards away. Resumes walking. I struggle a bit, mindful of the little does so close, but manage to strip my pack, slide it up on the butte, and then down under Mahlon's rifle as he lifts it when he understands what I am trying to do for him. Now it is a hard rest.

    Enemy At The Gates.

    The stringing main herd is gaining distance according to the Lead Doe, and I fear things could get dicey especially if our two "companions" basically right underneath the rifle see our shenanigans and bust loose. I advise Mahlon, "This has to be the very best shot of your entire life. When he stops again, put it right in his shoulder."

    The buck stopped. The Rem 700 .270 Winchester that I'd glass bedded and load-developed for, and subsidized a fine new Redfield 4x-12x on Mahlon's "upgrade from a kid's .243" did what it did on targets: The 130 gr Nosler Ballistic Tip had no choice but to arrive within a half-inch of where Mahlon had the crosshairs and squeezed the trigger from a solid rest.

    I flinched at the report (faster than I expected), and then came a bone-cracking "WHACK", and the buck's head went up, mouth open. Mahlon, true to training racked another round. I told him hold. 15 seconds later, the buck was down with no kicking, flat as a pancake.

    I will finish this with two things that can be rated as SO COOL!:

    1) Grandpa Derek was a quarter mile away, saw the herd, saw the buck, thought there might be a chance that Mahlon and I would be up there, and watched that buck go down. (Such are the unforeseen benefits of open country.)

    2) Mahlon is of Native American heritage. He thought it appropriate (from instruction from that heritage) that he take a bite out of the raw heart of the Antelope Buck. With more fortitude than I could ever muster (although my favorite sandwich is -sliced and boiled- venison heart), he completed the ritual, and I captured it on video.

    Respect for the quarry in a demonstration I have not ever witnessed (even with a degree in Anthropology focusing on Native American linguistics and studies).

    A WARRIOR!

    PA270510_zps8ebd4f86.jpg
     
  2. orygun

    orygun West Linn Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

    Messages:
    3,771
    Likes Received:
    1,946
    Nice Job, Spit.
     
    Taku and (deleted member) like this.
  3. drew

    drew OR Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,052
    Likes Received:
    970
    You spin a great yarn. Excellent story as usual.
     
    Taku and (deleted member) like this.
  4. Spitpatch

    Spitpatch Forest Grove, Oregon Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,801
    Likes Received:
    836
    Ain't no yarn. Best I could do aside from "kid shot a goat". (I know what you mean, no detriment to your choice of terms, and a fine compliment). Gawd, now I'm employed in making entreatments due to the internet.

    Okay, drew. I'll start over: thanks. I know you know what I mean.
     
  5. Jamie6.5

    Jamie6.5 Western OR Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,192
    Likes Received:
    4,380
    It's been a long time since a hunting story did that much FOR me.
    Thanks Spitpatch, er,... Unka Bruce. You may have made my weekend.

    Next time you talk to that young man, be sure to tell him that we said to keep up the good fight, and that we're rootin' for him!
    (We're also a little jealous of that dandy speed goat!)
     
  6. jbett98

    jbett98 NW Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

    Messages:
    6,447
    Likes Received:
    7,646
    Well done on all levels.
     
  7. Cogs

    Cogs Washougal, WA. Volunteer Coordinator Staff Member 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

    Messages:
    1,615
    Likes Received:
    2,069
    Well written! I was rootin for Mahlon the whole time. Way to go, helping a young-one experience a life so many will never know!

    Bil
     
  8. nastybynature

    nastybynature ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ Active Member

    Messages:
    260
    Likes Received:
    93
    Great story!! Thanks for sharing it!
     
  9. salmonriverjohn

    salmonriverjohn N.W Oregon coast, Gods country Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,135
    Likes Received:
    4,220
    Congratulations to you and the young man. That is the stuff that makes a full life worth living! Once again Spitpatch, you Sir are a wordsmith.
     
  10. 23Bandit

    23Bandit Aloha, OR Active Member

    Messages:
    157
    Likes Received:
    30
    :thumbup:
     
  11. 41Slinger

    41Slinger Harrisburg Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

    Messages:
    749
    Likes Received:
    1,266
    Made my day spitpatch, Thanks
     
  12. Spitpatch

    Spitpatch Forest Grove, Oregon Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,801
    Likes Received:
    836
    With the honest and genuine and generous response received here, I only wish that the response was NOT done on Mahlon's behalf: This was a very selfish essay from my hand. I wanted other hunters/gun owners to know that there are things that become more important than your chief passion..Very most often they come in the form of children.

    What I am trying to say, is this was emphatically NOT to be a "sympathy thread for a sick kid". Mahlon ain't sick no more. It was to be just a self-centered and "feel-good" deal for myself. I found something a helluva lot more important and valuable than any trophy on the ground. I wanted to offer something to the youthful but accomplished hunter in transition that is looking for the next step: not to tell him the next step, but to offer only personal experience.

    I guess what I am trying to say is, "this ain't about Mahlon". It's about me, for Chris-sakes.
     
  13. salmonriverjohn

    salmonriverjohn N.W Oregon coast, Gods country Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,135
    Likes Received:
    4,220
    Ok, ok congrats for being able to still keep up with the kid alright?;)
     
  14. Rotty

    Rotty Skagit County Active Member

    Messages:
    513
    Likes Received:
    221
    OUTSTANDING!!!
     
  15. Cogs

    Cogs Washougal, WA. Volunteer Coordinator Staff Member 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

    Messages:
    1,615
    Likes Received:
    2,069
    Spitpatch, I think the story hit your mark.

    Primary factors that stuck in my mind;
    I got the feel for your love of the hunt. I thought it was awesome that you gave up your hunt to share your experience with a younger hunter. I think your right about this becoming a greater kind of hunt and a logical next step for an experienced hunter.

    Story details I liked;
    I was impressed with the pursuit you led and how Mahlon stepped up to the challenge. You could have left out the part about a previous illness, however, that added a bit of drama and created a challenge to read on. I think we all knew he was just as well as any other kid. Especially when he took the challenge to try to intercept the herd. It was just cool to hear how you helped a boy become a man.

    As for me, (And I think all who posted here), I think we took it as you intended.

    A great story! I'm glad you posted it.

    Bill
     
  16. orygun

    orygun West Linn Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

    Messages:
    3,771
    Likes Received:
    1,946
    Being as I've never raised children of my own, this would have been completely lost on me.... before one very young man entered my life. Now I get it. I would do things for this boy that I would have never done for anyone else, ever, and I take great pleasure out of doing so.

    I'm gonna thread crap a little and share my first experience. God willing, there will be many more.

    Grandson's 1st Deer Hunt - YouTube

    Helping the next generation, and the one after that have a whole new meaning to me. We can't do anything better for ourselves, and our "cause", than things like what Spit has done and what I'm doing with this boy. When someone tells them that guns are bad, they will know who's spouting the BS.
     
  17. ZigZagZeke

    ZigZagZeke Eugene Silver Supporter Silver Supporter 2015 Volunteer

    Messages:
    2,697
    Likes Received:
    3,511
    Mahlon is a warrior, and thanks in part to you, he will be a competent human being and a whole man. His initiation is complete. You've given him a gift that adult males have been bestowing on boys for eons...manhood. And you feel that this is one of the most important things you've ever done because it really is that important. It's been that way since there were men and boys in the world.