It was a beautiful October afternoon when we arrived at Cherry Creek area which is located about tens miles west of the 260 and nestled between the Verde Valley and the Black Hills. Cherry was another five miles down the road. At an elevation of 6,000 feet, we were in the cedars with a few cacti scattered around and only a few pines could be seen higher on the surrounding hills. We pulled up to a spot in this high desert paradise that would make a perfect campsite for the next three days. With the purple and black mountains surrounding us, it was spectacular. My Dad, Brother Rick and I were anxious to do some serious mule deer hunting. This area was chosen after Dad heard some favorable scouting reports from the boys at the shop.
We pitched the tent in a fairly flat area away from any washes as we were expecting a little weather that weekend. The soil was rocky, making the digging of a drainage trench around the tent a little tougher that usual but it was necessary if you want to keep your gear dry.
After camp was set up, we had just enough time to take a short hike to the west to see if we can kick up any deer. We had a little breeze blowing in our faces which makes a perfect condition for sneaking up on deer or any other big game animal. We decided to follow the continuation of the dirt road that we came in on as it was going in the right direction and the walking was easy. A mile down the road we hit a •T” intersection at what is called the Western Trail. We kick up a cottontail rabbit and a covey of quail, but no deer so far. We hiked north for a half a mile and the back east to the camp. That nice two mile walk will helped to get us limbered up for Saturdays hunt.
Back at the camp, we got everything situated and Dad started cooking dinner using the camp kitchen he designed and fabricated. In two equal sized aluminum chests, he put all of his cooking equipment, food and lantern and the other was a very large ice chest with several compartments to separate the various types of food. Dinty Moore Stew was always a favorite with dinner rolls. After dinner, we started a camp fire and relaxed by its warmth. Dad was sitting in his favorite director’s chair and Rick and I sat on anything else that would suit the purpose.
The next morning, Dad was up early and had bacon & eggs cooking by the time Rick and I dragged our selves out of out sleeping bags. The sun wasn’t even up yet. We wanted to get out early and get a good distance from the camp before sunrise to give us a better chance of seeing a deer. The fire ring had a few hot coals still alive so with some fresh kindling and a paper towel, Rick had a fire going. I was making toast by threading a piece of break on a fork and holding it over the single gas burner stove. This is what I call team work.
Dad wanted to take the same trail we hiked the night before. This time when we head north on the Western Trail, we would go three or fore miles before looping around back to camp. As we stepped out on the trail with our flashlights in hand and rifles slung over our shoulders, Dad notice that there were paw prints on top of our boot prints from the night before. We had a mountain lion stalking us! We were the hunted!
Just of the Western Trail, we found a draw between to fingers of the Black Hills range. The plan was for me to hike up the west finger and Rick and Dad would hike up the east.
The dawn light now made the flashlights unnecessary. We moved into our positions as the sun poked up behind Rick and Dad. We all were sitting in front of small desert bushes to keep from being so conspicuous. After about one half hour, could see Rick waving his hands around. I thought he saw something but he was just talking and using his arms to emphasize his points. Dad quieted him down for a few minutes and then he was waving his hands again. I thought I would stand up a take a good look around. As a turned abound and looked up hill behind my bush cover, I saw a four point buck standing broadside with its head and rack staring right at me. Dad and Rick did not see it yet. Rick and I were sharing a German Military Rifle which was a $39.00 special, 8mm Mauser with a sliding, adjustable peep sight and sorry to say, never sighted in for accuracy on the gun range. Dad’s gun was the same type of gun, but sporterized with hand engraving, machined hexagon barrel, walnut stock four power scope and several other special features. He had sighted his in and it was accurate.
I quietly sat back down behind the bu. sh, and thought out my plan. My best position to shoot would be kneeling down on one knee. I took by position and squeezed off the first shot. It hit six feet down hill from the deer. It still didn’t know where I was at. Then buck fever set in. I would try to compensate for the last miss, but this time too high. I was wondering why Dad wasn’t shooting with his more accurate gun. So I kept shooting until the deer ran off over the hill. Later, I found out that every time Dad was taking aim, I would shoot and move the target before he could get an accurate shot off. Well, buck fever strikes again. After all the excitement, we headed back to camp to get a little lunch before we would try another area and strategy.
We loaded the car with the guns and a few snacks and headed east. Dad wanted to use a similar strategy with a few modifications. Rick with sit at the bottom of the draw for a half hour. Dad would take one side of the finger and I would take the other side, but this time without a gun as it was Rick’s turn. After Dad and I got into position, Rick would move up the draw and see if he could kick up a deer.
With every one in position, it was now time for Rick to start his move. Dad and I we watching for any movement as Rick moved up the draw. All of the sudden, a shot rings out. A minute later another shot. The powerful sounds were coming from Rick’s position. He must have spotted a deer. After all was quiet, Dad and I moved down to Rick’s position. Dad yelled •Did you hit a deer?” Rick called back with •No, I was just sighting in the gun! Dad and I were not happy campers after thinking about the effort it took to get into position. Sighting in the gun was a good idea after this morning misses, but I don’t think this was the right time.
Dad decided to continue up the draw over one side of the finger and back down the other side. Rick still had the community gun and was following directly behind Dad. I was bringing up the rear without a rifle. Dad stopped to take a good look around. Rick turned around toward me and then I noticed Dad had a funny look on his face and something looked out of placed. As Rick turned around, his rifle barrel swept by Dad’s right ear but catching his glasses and knocking them askew. They were barely hanging on Dad’s left ear. This triggered an in field, on the spot, gun safety course.
The rest of the weekend was uneventful but enjoyable.