We now find the year 2009 about half gone. On June 21 we experienced the longest daylight day of our year. Before you know it, hunting season will be upon us.
I mention this now to make plans for an out-of-state hunt. I just don't know how many people have told me their desires to make a “hunt out West.”
A cousin who was like a brother to me, after every return, would say, “Dick, let's me and you go out there next year.” We never made it. Cousin Al fell victim to cancer.
These hunts are in the grasp of many of us if we follow a few simple steps. First y'all must commit to a fall hunt. I know the bulk of the readers are in ag-related jobs, if not outright farmers.
With so much grain being planted, this might be the fall to go — you won't be gone all winter.
I don't know of but a few people that money doesn't scare a hunt off. “Rat-hole” some money for your trip. You'll need license money, gas money, hotel and eating money. These will be your four biggest expenses.
Most of us already own and drive a nearly ideal vehicle for the trip, a crew-cab (four-door), four-wheel drive pickup. I've made one out-of-state trip with three people to a vehicle and survived. Two people to a vehicle is better.
Pick your hunting and traveling partner carefully. This is not an overnight stay for a farm sale.
Most of us have enough hunting stuff to make the trip. Rifle, scope, Gore-Tex, rubber boots (snow), tents, Coleman stoves, lawn chairs, chain saws… the list could go on, but most of you know what you need to camp. Our weak link might be our semi-tropical sleeping bags.
One year Margaret Ann and I got into a real “mess.” A light snow fell one night — half an inch or so. We lit our little butane burner to make breakfast and warmed the top of the canvas tent (and the bottom of the snow). The temperature outside stayed below freezing. With just a little bit of heat, we had icicles hanging inside the tent. Then it got colder — froze. The next to the last night, I had to “double-bag” my wife while I got into a down-filled bag.
Then we killed a mule deer. People talk about not feeling comfortable praying; I prayed, “Lord, if you will let this tent thaw out and let us get this deer back to the truck, we'll leave.” The next morning the sun came out and the temperature got up to 40. We skinned and quartered the deer, broke camp and headed to Pagosa Springs and a hotel room.
You have to start with some phone calls. Here are four common states “out West” and phone numbers to get the ball rolling: Colorado Division of Wildlife, (303) 297-1192; Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, (406) 444-2535; Wyoming Game & Fish, (307) 777-4600; and New Mexico, (505) 476-8000. These are four states in which one might hunt whitetail and mule deer, elk, bear and antelope. The muledeer, elk, bear and antelope are four animals that are within reason for us to hunt.
Remember, you must have a hunter safety card to get a license. The good-ol'-boy system does not exist out West. Don't miss a chance at a hunter safety class. There is no charge for this class and it's good for life.
I'm telling you, once you've been on a fall hunt out West, you'll have to ask yourself, “Why did my great-grandparents stop here?”