Back in October, we drove up on the mountain to take advantage of what could have been the last warm day before Winter set in. We were looking for a more interesting place to cook dinner than our back yard. We deliberately chose a campsite near the road so we wouldn’t disturb any deer hunters. I had already hunted the mule deer muzzleloader season, so my deer hunt was over.
We had just put the chicken over the fire when a truck drove up the main road, then turned off towards us and then passed us up a little side road that went up to the base of a ridge. I assumed they were going hunting because I could see they were wearing lots of orange. I thought they were getting a late start, but maybe they knew something I didn’t know. I also assumed they were going to park at the end of the road, grab their packs and rifles and sneak along at the edge of the trees next to several ponds that were at the foot of the slope and watch for deer until sunset.
A few minutes later we saw the same truck coming back down the road and then it suddenly stopped less than 40 yards from our fire. They stopped so close to us, we couldn’t ignore them. They were looking up the hill behind us through the trees. They were road hunting and they were invading our chicken cooking space.
Biggest Binoculars I’ve Ever Seen
We had been watching a doe and a her fawn about 60 yards away for the last 30 minutes and I guessed they had just seen the same doe. A teenaged boy jumped out of the truck with the biggest pair of binoculars I have ever seen. They were binoculars designed for stargazing and were at least 20 X 80s, but might have even been 20 X 100 binoculars. The young man slammed the truck door, which brought a spastic jerking motion from the driver of the truck. I chuckled to myself.
The young man spent an extremely long time looking through the binoculars towards the doe that we could still clearly see from our vantage point without binoculars. Finally he moved back to truck. I thought he was going to get in the truck, but he ran around the far side to rest his elbows on the truck for stability. He stared through the binoculars again. We heard voices the entire time he was trying to find his target, but we couldn’t hear their conversation because they never turned off the truck motor. Since there were not doe tags issued in this area this year, we though the kid was just trying to look at the doe. Then we decided the youngster’s job was to tell his dad if the deer was a shooter or not.
Is He Going to Shoot?
I don’t think the kid ever found the doe in the binoculars. Finally, the Dad got out of the truck, got his rifle out from the back seat and loaded it, and looked at the deer through the rifle scope. I was glad to see he wasn’t carrying a loaded rifle in the truck.
My wife asked me “Is he going to shoot?” Not believing what we were seeing, all I could say was “I don’t know”. My wife put her fingers in her ears. I started memorizing the license plate and making mental notes about the type and color of the truck.
I noticed two more people in the back seat that looked like the mom and a daughter. We heard dad mumble something, but still couldn’t hear because the truck was still running and since dad left the front door open, the ignition key alarm was “dinging” away. They both got back in the truck and drove off. There were many things I was tempted to say to them as they drove past, but I just smiled and we all waved at each other as they drove past.
Respect Campers and Picnickers
Would any of you put a rifle on a deer just 40 yards from someone’s camp fire? I don’t imagine that man even considered that he had encroached on our space. I have not walked a mile in that man’s shoes, but this was definitely not my kind of hunting. My wife and I had a discussion after they drove off about the ethical responsibilities of hunting, especially road hunting near campers and picnickers. My family has a long history of hunting, but my wife comes from a family that never owned a gun. She is gun owner now, but still not a hunter. A situation that I still hope to change.
How would a non-hunting family trying to grill their tofu react to what we had just seen? If dad decided to shoot, would he have given us a warning to cover our ears? Protocol at the shooting range requires a “heads-up” so everyone can “get their ears on”. There are laws about minimum shooting distance from roads and building and official campgrounds, but what about our campfire and vehicle? I don’t think we need more laws, but I’ll put it this way. I have very little confidence that this man would have done much to shed a positive light on hunting or hunters to a group of non-hunters. We certainly were not impressed.
How did this all start? We were just trying to cook a chicken. The chicken and potato salad were damn good by the way and we finished off the evening in classic style by roasting marshmallows for desert. Everything always tastes better outside.
Riding around on forest roads is not my style of hunting, but to end on a positive note, at least it was something they did together as a family and technically they were outdoors. At least the dad and son actually stepped out of the truck. Mom and the daughter did not. It is a shame he didn’t take the boy on a real hunt, but those will be the hunting stories they tell.