That morning we started out making our way west. The drive from home to Chamberlain was not the most pleasant, as there was a snow storm that came through the night before, making the roads snow covered. That drive usually takes 2.5 hours and this day took close to 4 hours. Once we got to the west side of the river, it was time to stop and grab some lunch, one of Kalli’s favorite, Arby’s! Even though this was just a lunch at Arby’s it was way more than that, and I do not quite know how to put it into words to describe the bonding and the excitement for the trip in her eyes!
After eating, she of course wanted ice cream, but I said not then and we will get some the next day after hunting. We continued westward and now the roads were in great shape. We wanted to make it there in time to meet up with Bryce and Brantley, so we could get to the ranch and do a quick scouting trip before the mornings hunt. Arriving about 2 hours before dark, we unloaded the truck at the house and headed out to see what we could find. As expected, the deer were all over the fields, making everyone excited for the next mornings hunt. I could see the excitement on her face as she grabbed the binoculars and spotted deer in the fields!
The evening was spent with the kids playing and eating pizza. We gathered our gear, packed a lunch for the next day along with all the snacks you could think of, which she picked out from the local grocery store. Staying up way later than normal for her, we got to bed in anticipation for the morning hunt, as it would be an early morning with about a 40-minute drive from the house in Spearfish to the ranch.
Generally, Kalli is quick to rise for a morning hunt but I will never forget what she said when the alarm went off. “Dad, I will get up when you get up….” This was quite comical to me as we went to bed rather late the night before for a 5-year-old who had to wake up at 5am the next day. Kalli got up and dressed as did I, and she began to pack the breakfast, snacks and lunch into the blind bag for the day. We were a little behind but soon enough we were in the trucks headed for the ranch.
My favorite part of the day is walking to the blind with the kids, in the dark of night, well before sunrise. We often have a question-and-answer session at this time and small discussions. This continues as we get settled into the blind. As the sky begins to brighten the excitement for the hunt begins to build, along with generally getting into the snack bag! It was not long and Kalli began to spot movement up on the hill! She grabbed the binoculars and informed me that there were deer up in the pasture coming our way! She was so excited I could just hear it in her voice. However, those deer were actually some Hereford cows grazing!
Within minutes of saying that prayer, the sun had not yet peaked over the horizon, and I looked up to see a doe standing about 100 yards away! Kalli was ready for me to take her! I on the other hand, was ready, but she was calm, relaxed and just browsing, so I told Kalli that we should just take in the moment and the beauty of watching her for a little bit first. She reluctantly agreed, and so that is what we did. I taught her more on watching with the binoculars and using the range finder. I even let her look through the rifle scope.
As the deer walked behind a big cottonwood, I told Kalli when she walked out, we would take her. She got her ear muffs on and got ready. As I watched the doe, she looked to be very old in my eyes, as I followed her in the scope. Once she stopped, I settled the crosshairs and squeezed the trigger, boom! Immediately the doe was out of site, which I figured she had fallen in her tracks, feeling nothing, just like I like to see. Kalli’s excitement level escaladed quickly and she wanted to go check out the deer!
To make a little time pass I first had her help clean up the blind, to be sure the doe had time to expire if she hadn’t immediately as I expected. Once cleaned up, we headed to where she was standing, and we found her laying right there. We thanked God for giving us this opportunity and the deer for her life and the food she would provide us throughout the upcoming year. I set up my pack, so we could get the timer on the camera set to get a photo of us, followed by Kalli carrying the rifle and I dragging the doe to the gate, where we could get the truck pulled up to.
I then showed Kalli how we field dress the deer and took some time to teach her about the organs. Once we got her hung up, I took my time skinning and boning the deer out to take any opportunity to teach her and answer questions along the way. After Kalli helped get the meat into the cooler, her and I did some chores to close up camp for the year. The tasks included, making sure the blinds were cleaned up and all windows shut for the year and trail cameras all got picked up. She really wanted to walk across the wood bridge and check out the river!
Once the chores were done, Kalli spent the day and early evening playing with Dane and Kristi’s kids, while we visited and made our way around the ranch. These trips are unforgettable for me, and I hope for them as well. Teaching them about hunting, introducing them to new lifestyles and meeting new people and visiting with old friends. I will be sure to keep this a part of each fall with the kids, and one day I am sure they will maybe take their first deer on this ranch. Oh yeah, we did stop and get our ice cream that night!
Fun note, I suspected that doe to be very old so I had her aged. She was 11 years old!