My sister the deer hunter
My younger sister would have been considered a tomboy growing up. She played baseball with the boys in high school, hunted prairie dogs and rattlesnakes with a dead-on shot, created tree forts from her imagination, and built and fixed fences all on her own.
We grew up on our family ranch, located on the prairie grasslands of rural northeastern Colorado, where we spent many hours working together as we sorted cattle, moved them by horseback, and caught and doctored them all by our young female selves. We also shared a love of hiking and backpacking, going down trails in Colorado and Wyoming with little thought as to the difficulty or distance. As much time as we spent together, it wasn’t until my sister’s freshman year in college when I realized the extent of her ability to do and accomplish things on her own.
We were home from the University of Wyoming for the weekend, and my sister – deer tag in hand – had received permission from our neighbors to scout and hunt for a deer on their property. Crow Creek meandered through their land with a forest of colorful cottonwoods changing from green to golden as they grew along the creek bank; a perfect location for a fall hunt, and naturally, residence to a herd of deer.
Our dad, a veterinarian, was supposed to join her, but was called out that morning to sew up a cut horse, leaving the possibility of going out later in the day. My sister knew he could just as likely be called out in the evening, and decided to continue on with her plans. She would go out on her own.
Driving our old Ford pickup in the early morning light and the cool fall air, she headed out to our neighbor’s ranch wearing her camouflage pants, leather boots, a warm sweatshirt, and a ball cap with her hair tucked under. She parked the truck at a safe distance where she could walk down to the creek quietly and with little disturbance to the deer. She snuck into the trees and found a spot to wait. After awhile, as she later told us, she was surrounded by deer – an amazing experience to be so close she could hear them eating.
What happened after being among the deer is her story, and one we may never fully know, but by mid-morning she was back with a buck in the back of the pickup.
I shouldn’t have been surprised to see she had gotten a deer all by herself, a fine looking buck at that, but I was. What impressed me the most, however, was how she had loaded the deer into the back of the pickup all by herself! I always knew she was a strong individual, but now the picture was crystal clear before me.
When I think of my sister, I like to think of that day she went hunting for deer all by herself. Her determination, independent spirit, and ability to work hard have continued to be valuable characteristics she has portrayed through her life. On top of completing her master’s degree, she also has a good marriage and two little girls she’ll enjoy teaching to be tomboys. Even though today she’s a long way away from the college girl in camouflage pants, it’s situations like her deer hunting experience where she proves to herself and others her ability to aim for and accomplish whatever she puts in her “sights.”