I bought an antelope permit from a local rancher. My grandsons Paden, 8, and Connor McDermid, 6, and I decided to go hunt. The day before the hunt Paden got sick and had to stay home. That left Connor and me to fend for ourselves. That evening we discussed the hunt. A 6-year-old has plenty of questions.
One of the questions was, “Papa, are you a professional hunter?” My answer, “Yes I am.” I’m thinking that I have hunted in Africa, Alaska, Canada, New Mexico and Texas, etc. Maybe you could classify me as a professional. That was the wrong answer, I’m not a professional hunter, I have just hunted a lot. I didn’t know that the answer would come back to haunt me. Kids never forget anything.
The next morning at 4 a.m. we ate breakfast and started packing the ice chest with all the good stuff that a 6-year-old needs to have in order to survive. I made the statement that Connor could not eat all that in two weeks. His grandmother said you don’t know Connor. With the pickup loaded full of ice chests, guns, binoculars and scopes. We were given our instructions:
z Connor — Buckle your seatbelt, watch out for snakes and get behind grandpa when he shoots.
z Me — Don’t drive too fast, watch that boy, he’s only 6, make sure he wears his hat and doesn’t get too hot.
This safety meeting was really going good and might have lasted a lot longer except we needed to get going, “We will be just fine, bye.”
We got to the hunting area just in time because the goats weren’t up and moving. This area requires some driving, then it is a spot and stalk situation. We looked over several good areas that had antelope before. No goats, nothing.
Suddenly we spotted a real good one, (a wall hanger). We picked him up with the binoculars then the spotting scope was needed. . There was no cover, just bear grass(yucca) and grass. Now, how are we going to get him? He is in the open, we can’t get with half of a mile of him. Old bucks don’t get old by being stupid. Then lady luck shined on Connor and I, a fog rolled in hiding the antelope from us and also hiding us from the buck. The wind was in our favor, our golden opportunity.
“Come on Connor, let’s go! You need to be very quiet, don’t step on sticks, don’t kick stuff, don’t make any noise and don’t talk. We use hand signals, okay?”
Connor said okay.
That is a lot of instructions for a 6 year-old hunter, especially for his first stalk. We made the stalk, then waited for the fog to lift. It lifted, only one problem, the goat was gone. Connor asked where did he go? What happened, maybe he left in the fog. “Come on Connor, we have a long walk back to the pickup for some water and snacks.”She was right, that boy can eat.
Okay let’s glass some more, said Connor. Connor was right; there was a small herd with two bucks and same problem as before. Soon a fight broke out between the two bucks; the smaller one got run off, leaving the herd.
Come on Connor, let’s head south. We can intercept this goat. We are fixing to score. When he came out, I guessed him to be about 350 yards away. I put the crosshairs about 3 inches above his back and touched it off. I felt confident that I had killed this goat.
Come on Connor, let’s go, McDermid said.
“Papa did you get him,” Connor said.
“I think so, see the biggest mesquite bush,” McDermid said. “He is to the left of it.”
When we got there things really looked a lot different. We can’t find this goat. We looked for 30 to 45 minutes, still no goat.
“Well, Connor I guess we missed him,” McDermid said.
“Papa you couldn’t have missed him, you are a professional hunter!”
With that statement, my 6-year-old grandson really put the pressure on me.
“Okay, let’s make another circle and maybe we can find him,” McDermid said.
Sure enough Connor was right, I hadn’t missed. He was piled up 25 yards from the spot we had last seen him.
“Connor, lets open him up and then we will go get the pickup,” McDermid said.
Then the questions started: What is a tag? What is field dressing? What is a game warden? What are game law? What is open season?
Then we got to the questions about entrails. I was making sure I answered each question correctly; I had learned my lesson about wrong answers.
After all of this, we went back to the pickup loaded up our goat and started for home. Connor and I had jerky meat. Now I am well aware of the scoring system and the record book, but through the eyes of a 6-year-old you people have not seen the biggest pronghorn antelope. On the way home Connor’s dad called and wanted to talk to him. Connor’s dad said did you get your goat?
“Yes we did,” Connor said. “He’s the giantest ever.”