About this time of year I make my annual trip to southeastern Idaho, where my son Jim lives with his lovely wife Joy and two young sons, James and Michael. I go there to relax, play (at) some golf, catch a lot of fish and shoot my bow every morning in the fresh, mountain air. It's a fine time to practice. Usually I see a deer or two, on occasion even more in the quiet of morning and, once in a while, even a small buck.
Carrie Andraychak Illustration
It seems bucks in this more populated portion of Idaho do not get as big anymore. Of course, my grandson James -- who also happens to be my namesake -- might have something to do with that. Ever since he got old enough to get a license, he's been a holy terror on the big game. In fact, last season he arrowed a deer, an elk and a turkey in the same week. That's pretty damn good for a 15-year-old, if I do say so myself.
Up there I can shoot 50-60 yards without endangering anyone, something I cannot do at home in Oklahoma. But mostly, I shoot not much over 35 yards. Hell, I can hardly see the target at 50 anymore, much less hit it, but I plink at it some. Mostly it has to do with what I might try in the coming months. Tom Nelson has invited me to hunt elk with him in September, and I really hope I'm going to be able to make it. I love to hunt elk, and it's been a few years since I've done that. Shooting a bull or cow doesn't matter much. They both eat good, though cows are much better and don't have horns, so I wouldn't have to worry about where to hang 'em. My wife Sue says we are way, way out of room. Hey, I'll just be happy to get there.
I might make another run on the Oklahoma antelope. We tried it last year (OK's first archery season), but it was pretty much a look and see trip. There was too much wild water where we hunted to really zero in on them, but we learned a lot about the country. I think Randy, Tom and Greg will be up for a return engagement. Antelope are always fun to hunt, and the country is uniquely beautiful.
Jim and Joy own Deer Cliff Inn, which sits on the bank of Cub River, which flows into the Bear River twenty-some miles downstream. Sue and I have been going up there since we were first married as her mother's family was from there, and my son Jimmy hauled off for those parts the day after he finished high school. Back in those earlier days, that part of Idaho was famous for huge bucks, and there are still some left if a guy knows where to go and has the time.
Of course, owning the Inn and the restaurant that's pretty famous in the area keeps Jim too busy that time of year, though he's been known to sneak off for a morning's fishing when I'm around. James has become a great partner now that he's grown to well over six feet and near 200 pounds -- a great kid to have around when you are a pretty run down old guy like me.
Cub River is renowned for its cutthroat trout, and a guy who knows what he's doing with a fly rod can catch 20 or 30 fish in an afternoon. But you can't keep any under 15 inches, and while there are some that big in there, we put them back anyhow. In the 50-plus years I've fished the Cub, I believe it is almost as good now as it was in the beginning. There are not many places you can say that about anymore!
There was a big doe hanging around last year, and she watched me while I was shooting. She seemed tame enough, but maybe she just knew it was too early to be threatened. Anyhow, one afternoon as I drove up the hill to the house (there was barely enough room for the car because of the high grass), we found a freshly dropped fawn so close I could have easily hit it with a tire. It was not more than an hour old. When I stopped, I was looking straight down at it. Damn, fawns are cute!
The doe was lying in the alfalfa about 100 yards away and would not move when we saw her. Turns out she was dropping another right there. Well, I was nervous as an old hen turkey for the next few days worrying about their fate, because there were a few deer-eating varmints about and I never saw the fawns. I started getting really paranoid about them when one morning, downhill from the house, I spotted her leading two little spotted fawns. After that, I saw them with regularity until we left for Oklahoma.
It's funny how someone can get so concerned, even protective, about young animals yet every day go out and shoot with nothing on their mind except putting that arrow perfectly into an imaginary deer, antelope or elk when the season rolls around.
I guess I'm kind of funny that way. What about you?