Katrina’s first deer huntWe were hunting in the Missouri River Breaks in 1992 — the year that daughter Katrina turned 12 — and the idea was to get her a shot at a mule deer.
By: Bernie Kuntz, The Jamestown Sun
We were hunting in the Missouri River Breaks in 1992 — the year that daughter Katrina turned 12 — and the idea was to get her a shot at a mule deer.
Mike Koushkouski came out from Jamestown, and Jake and Laurie were in camp. And oh what difficulties we had!
Two young bucks and a doe were standing along the edge of a draw above Cottonwood Creek, but before I could get Katrina into a shooting position, they bounded away. As it is with hunting, chances often are fleeting. Many times one has only a few seconds to get into position and fire. It is not an easy situation for a beginner.
I sent Katrina out with her grandfather, Jake, one day and they didn’t see a deer all day.
So she hunted the next day with me. We saw a cow and calf elk. Meanwhile, a mule deer doe walked up to Jake as he sat on a high point above the draws — a perfect opportunity for Katrina had she been with him instead of me.
One day Katrina hunted with Mike, and missed a 75-yard shot at a mule deer doe. She was dejected when she and Mike got back to the road. I remember being elated to see them, deer or no deer, as it had started snowing and blowing.
“I’ll never get a deer,” she told me that night.
I told Katrina that it really didn’t matter, that I wanted her to learn to hunt and handle a rifle, and appreciate hunting with her grandfather — something I was never able to do. (One grandfather died three years before my birth; the other when I was 12.) I wanted her to realize that there is a great deal more to hunting than just going out and shooting something.
I continued to see deer when hunting alone. When Katrina accompanied me, we came up empty. Then, on the fourth day I saw some deer disappear over a rise and into the draws that drop into CK Creek. Katrina and I left the vehicle and took off after them on foot.
We climbed a hill, I spotted the deer but Katrina couldn’t see them. Three does suddenly burst into view, cutting back on us and bounded over the horizon. The buck I had seen earlier was not with them. So we continued down a finger, walking slowly and watching for deer. One time Katrina lay down for a prone shot, impaling both legs with prickly pear cactus spines. That didn’t improve her mood.
A couple forkhorn bucks and several does drifted down the timbered finger ahead of us. Time and again, I saw an opportunity for a shot but it didn’t materialize for Katrina. And then I saw a buck standing facing us. I moved Katrina a few steps to the right to a pine tree with a branch at just the right height.
“Rest your arm there,” I said. And I told her to remember to squeeze off the shot.
Through my binocular I could see it was a forkhorn buck, the old Sako .243 cracked, and the buck was down, killed instantly.
“Great shot! You did it!” I shouted. Katrina seems relieved and pleased.
By the time I got the deer field-dressed, Jake and Mike had joined us and they hoisted the deer onto my shoulders for the half-mile walk back to the road. I still have the bleached skull of that buck sitting downstairs near my reloading area. Katrina never hunted deer again. But while carrying that young buck back to the road, all seemed right with the world. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier.
Bernie Kuntz, a Jamestown native, has been an Outdoors columnist for the Sun since 1974