The tepid air brushed our faces as we walked silently single file through the normally crunchy sage. Rain alternated between a steady drizzle and spontaneous showers building up on the brim of my cap before dripping down onto my face. I turned and looked into Michelle’s unsuspecting eyes and smiled as I gave a hard flick of my finger to the underside of the bill to clear the heavy drips from my hat. Large droplets of water spattered her face. She giggled and shook her head like a dog fresh from a bath slinging water back at me.
“I’ve never had to deal with rain dripping from my hat during deer season before.” I said.
“I know,” she replied, “it’s cool, I love this. The rain makes everything look so new and interesting, and it’s so quiet. I just love walking in the rain.” Then I turned away and we continued our walk in silence.
We awoke on opening morning to the sound of pelting rain on the metal trailer roof. I slowly opened my eyes; surprised to see it was already quite light, then I glanced blurry-eyed at the tiny travel clock sitting at the side of the bed. I could barely make out the time without my glasses, but it appeared to be nearly seven o’clock. Dennis, my husband stirred beside me and looked at the clock.
“What time is it? I can’t read it,” I asked.
“It’s time to get up,” he said, “it’s seven.” The rain had started on Friday, the day before season and continued nearly all day and well into the night before letting up. It was great that the parched earth was refreshed. I was excited about being at deer camp in the rain. Dennis and I prepared our espresso and poured a bowl of cereal while our daughter Michelle rolled from the bunk, taking our time for the first hunt of the season. At 9:00 am we climbed into my sister Karen’s truck and headed down the road towards the cinder butte to make our opening morning hunt. Mom left with Karen’s kids in the orange truck and headed south to get on her stand down by the Holey road, our destination.
“As late as it is, I hope we don’t just follow someone through the woods,” Dennis said, knowing that most hunters hit the woods at the crack of dawn. “We need to get out earlier.”
“What do you expect hunting with a bunch of women and kids?” I said with a chuckle.
Silently we walked as I scanned the darkened terrain off to my left. The only sound was the patter of the rain as it continued to fall at a soft but steady pace. Something felt familiar, and then I realized that we were approaching the same area where Michelle and I had jumped the big buck from his bed two years ago on opening morning, the last time we hunted here. I envisioned the large buck and a doe running away from me in the wide open as I stood searching for the safety on the lever of my 30.30 rifle forgetting that I had decided to carry my 30.06 bolt that day. By the time I located the safety, the buck was out of sight, I hadn’t fired a shot. Michelle stood watching in wonder “why isn’t she shooting?”
“Deer! Bucks, bucks!” Michelle shouted at a whisper with urgency; her words jolting me back to the present. Startled from my thoughts, I panned the landscape searching for the bucks-bucks that she was obviously so excited about. Spotting the movement off to my right, just 35 yards away, two large bucks had jumped from their bed in the wide open and ran single file, now in the scattered ponderosa trees. I raised my rifle...
EXCERPT from A Sacred Place, Memoirs of a Female Hunter.
Creative Non-Fiction By Sherrie Gant
Sherrie Gant is a writer, photographer, and