Learning to Pass

The crosshairs were steady on the vitals of the mature buck. He was dead, if I pulled the trigger. But I didn’t, I couldn’t. Something in my stopped my killer instinct, I lowered my gun, looked to my right and smiled. My son was taking aim, trying to steady his breathing enough to fire off his shooting stick. It was a farther shot than he has ever taken before, I was nearly certain he would have trouble with it. But I watched – heart filled with hope and anticipation.
BAM! The crack of a .243 rang out over the rim-rock. A solid miss. BAM! Another miss, I watch as Noah’s chest pounded, heaving with each breath. I pulled up again on the buck, crosshairs finding fur, but I lowered my gun quickly. The buck slipped into the brush, gone forever.
In past years I might not have let that happen. A legal buck would have simply died, or at least been shot at. With a small inspection of my horn collection it is easy to see that I do not discriminate. As one buddy put it to me “I have yet to find a good recipe for horns.” Legal is dead, simple as that.
But this year I have passed three times on perfectly legal bucks.
My motivation for not shooting this year is twofold. First, I really want a whitetail deer. All the bucks I have passed on were mule deer. I have never shot a whitetail in my life; it feels like this is a problem that needs rectified. I can’t shoot a whitetail with a punched muledeer tag.
The second reason for passing this year is that I really don’t want to shoot more than my family can eat. Both Noah and I have cow elk tags, each cow being ample meat for my family for about a year. Add a deer, or two, and an antelope and my freezer will be fuller than it needs to be. We simply do not need to kill that much food. We would be killing to kill, not killing to eat. I have an intrinsic problem with that.
But I might just be putting the cart before the deer. I am worried about having too much meat before I, or Noah, have even killed anything. It is quite possible the only shot opportunities either of us would get this season have already passed. Maybe I have missed my chance? I might not see another game animal all year long. Who knows?
Even if neither Noah nor I connect on a deer or an elk this year, I will feel better knowing I did what I thought was right by the animals. I wasn’t just killing to kill. Even if my freezer goes a little light this year.

Noah in the Sage

2 thoughts on “Learning to Pass

  1. Yes I feel the same I dont like to take more then My family can eat. Either fish or wild game. I dont trophy hunt but I wont pass up horns either.

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