The Day I Stained the Buttes Red

January 25, 2010
It seemed an infinity before the time came where I would shoot my first stag. My destination? The Russell Ranch deep in the heart of the Badlands. We drove over cattle guards and roads where one swerve would mean plummeting to the gorge below. The buttes and valleys swam with earthen tones and tints that only added to its natural beauty and wonder.

We arrived in late evening; therefore it was too dark to hunt after we got settled. The next day we woke bright and early to scout the land for any mule deer unlucky enough to wander in range of my scope. Mile after mile all we saw were does or bucks too young to harvest. The first two days came and went without much action but my luck was about to change. We woke on Sunday without much jubilance, it was our last day and if I didn’t get my buck then my hunting season would be over.

We drove for nearly three hours and I was starting to get pessimistic, but then just as I was about to lose all hope, my dad slammed on the brakes, propelling me forward. He swung the binoculars from behind his seat and trained them on something I couldn’t see. He pointed at a buck three buttes away that was lying beneath a tree; a 250 yard shot. I leapt out of the passenger seat taking care to not damage my gun, and propped it on the metal hood of the truck, zeroing in on my target. I locked the unfortunate creature in the cross hairs of my scope and pulled the trigger. My bullet lodged itself into the buck’s stomach, making it hunch over and teeter between torture and death. Another well aimed bullet put the majestic creature out of its misery.

A slow smile stretched across my face and I blinked disbelievingly at the speck that was my first kill. My hands started shaking and I had to set the rifle down before I dropped it. My father’s hand came crashing down on my shoulder and he hugged me tightly in congratulations.

This is one of the greatest moments of my life. Good things come in time and my six by four point mule deer buck was well worth the wait.

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