The Lady on the loud speaker called all passengers to now board the flight. I was leaving Montreal on my way home to Saskatoon from a pretty long and wet Quebec Labrador Caribou hunt.
The Mule Deer muzzle loader season had started on October 1st and it was now the already the twelfth and I hadn’t even been out scouting yet! The mule deer gods, I’m sure were not very proud of me at this point.
My phone started vibrating, so I reached down and yoinked it out of my pocket. It was Mr. Shockey, I informed him of the successful hunt in Quebec then proceeded to tell him the plans for the Mule Deer season throughout October. He generously gave me a few words of advise then signed off, back to pursuing some rare animal in a far off land.
Who would my first Mule Deer hunter be? I had to think of all the lucky people that I knew that had been drawn for the coveted tag….. Hmm!…. My brother maybe?…. Knowing that he has the type of wife that lets him go hunting for half an hour every four years! And off the top of my head, I couldn’t remember for sure if it was the fourth year yet or not. Sorry brother, too risky! Maybe Chris Adair from Harris, now that’s a risky one too! If you were to look up the word Hyperventilate in the dictionary, you would see Chris Adair in cap locks next to the word! It would probably be fine as long as I took a nurse along with an oxygen tank just in case we bumped into a hog! But again, sorry Chris, toooo risky!
Thinking back to all the local people that I had hunted with, I was trying to remember the experiences that turned out well. One hunt that kept jumping back in my mind was one I did the year previous with Arlee Claypool. Oh yeah, the twentyfive day hunt from hell! Arlee is roughly four foot thirteen but has the ego of a very healthy gorilla! It didn’t matter what buck I showed him; 200 inch typicals, triple drop tine bucks and mammoth non typicals, nothing was big enough for Arlee “Mighty Mouse” Claypool!
To be totally honest, looking back on that hunt I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun! I decided to call Arlee and reminisce of all the intense moments from the year before. While talking to my old buddy, he informed me that his daughter Kelsy was drawn for the same zone this season. Yikes! That’s my hunter! I made short order of politely hanging up on “Mighty Mouse” and calling his knock out of a daughter as fast as I could possibly dial the numbers! after two rings Kelsy answered, I gave her the best sales pitch possible hoping she would say yes to my hunting invitation? This is what I got in return; “Sure Code, I would love to come hunting with you but just so you know I only have two days to hunt and I’m not shooting a buck unless its bigger then my dads. Oh yeah and most importantly I’ve never shot a gun before so your gonna have to teach me in one of those two days! Capeesh?” “No problem Kels, consider it done!” In the back of my mind I was wondering how in the heck I always seem to get in these predicaments. “Code, I just have a few more questions.” “Sure Kels, shoot!” My eyes slowly rolled into the back of my head as I anticipated the up coming inquiries. “I was just wondering if we have to get up early? cause I’m not really a morning person. And, Are there going to be bugs? cause I hate bugs! I’m not coming if there’s bugs!” I did what any used car salesman would do and made the sale!
The next day Arlee and Kelsy came out for a lesson on shooting the muzzle loader. I also brought my .243 for Kelsy to fire a couple times just for her to get more comfortable with her shooting. It turned out she shot less then a one inch group at 100 yards with the .243! This girl had the makings of a sniper! I’m certain she must have gotten these genetics from her mother.
Early the next morning the sun was making its way up into the blue sky, and we were heavy in search of a monster mulie for Kelsy. By noon we had made a couple stalks on some pretty nice bucks but Kelsy just wasn’t quite happy with any of the bucks we had seen yet. Flash backs of her dads hunt were starting to give me a nervous twitch!
The first day came to an end with no success, well no big buck in the back of the truck anyways! I informed Kelsy that she had to be back at my house ready to rock again the next morning at quarter after six. In return I got an evil scoul! But with a little persuading I convinced her it had to be done. The next morning at quarter after seven, there she was with her game face on! Only an hour late but she was there and that was most important!
We headed back out to the same country we were the day before. Right at daybreak we spotted a jumbo that had to be at least thirty inches wide inside! We watched him bed down and planned a stalk.
We started after the buck at roughly 9:00 am and it was now 3:00 pm. Kelsy, Arlee and I were laying flat on our stomachs on the top of a hill patiently waiting for the big old buck to stand up to give us a shot. We had already put about three unsuccessful stalks on him to this point and he had busted us every time. But we never lost track of him and he kept giving us more opportunities. Within 140 yards, the buck was breath taking! With a Boone & Crockett typical frame and over thirty inches wide inside, he was every hunters dream! And to this point Kelsy had never even taken a big game animal before! This was here maiden voyage, talk about a lucky girl!
After waiting for the buck to stand for over two hours Kelsy quietly whispered “Cody, I have to pee!” I looked at her in disbelief “hold it princess!” Another hour passed and I herd a “Cody, I really have to pee!” I looked her in the eyes and explained “Kelsy you have a monster, jumbo, ginormous buck about to stand up at any second, Are you sure you can’t hold it?” With no hesitation at all she answered “NOPE!” So off the hill we crawled, down into a patch of buck brush to answer the call of nature.
When we returned to the crest of the hill, to my relief the buck was still sound asleep. About twenty minutes passed before the big old brute threw is head forward and rocked to his feet. “Kels he’s up! Get Ready!” She raised the gun to her shoulder and waited for my command. I was filming the story for Jim Shockey’s Hunting Adventures, as soon as I had the footage I needed I gave her the go ahead!… Ka boom! The smoke slowly drifted off to our left. The buck was still standing there untouched! Our princess had just missed! Kelsy laid the gun in the grass and her face dropped to the dirt. I grabbed the gun and started to reload it. It took me about two minutes to reload with laying on my stomach. I handed her the gun back and and starting filming again! Okay, Kelsy take your time and slowly squeeze…. Ka boom! it all happened in slow motion, the bucks legs raised to his stomach and he dropped like a rock, stone dead! HUG TIME!!! We were hero’s! To see the excitement of Kelsy with her dad shooting her very first buck is a feeling that I live for! It would have been pretty tough to find a father that could be more proud of his daughter that day. In the hunting world there are predators and and there are also scavengers, even with the doubts that I was having before the hunt started, I think its safe to say that Kelsy had become a predator.