I love hunting with my family, but it can be hard to find the time because hunting season is during football season. Last fall, our team had just won a game in Dillon so instead of riding back on the bus, I got in the car with my family and went to my brother’s house. He works on a big cattle ranch in the Big Hole Valley – which we drive through on our way home from Dillon. It seemed like a perfect weekend – with a win in Dillon (the first time in a long time) and finally a chance to go archery hunting.
We woke up at 5:30 the next morning and started driving and hiking for a while. I was with my dad and my sister, Kelsey. We all had tags and were each trying to get a buck or a doe with a bow so we planned to go every morning and evening to make it happen. The first and second day, we saw some bigger bucks, but they got away because they heard or smelled us. The third day we didn’t really see anything but elk. We didn’t have an elk tag, but it was a cool experience to see them.
On the fourth day, we drove up this bumpy, nasty trail. We hiked for a while and were able to shoot some grouse and eat them later. Later on, we sat in this meadow for a while just calling and seeing if any deer or elk would come in. Eventually, we got back in the car to drive to my brother’s house and we came around this corner where a bunch of trees opened up to another meadow. There was one single doe standing in the meadow.
We stopped the car behind some trees and I snuck out of our suburban as quietly as I could. I probably could have shot sooner but I wanted to get closer since it was my first archery experience. I stood behind a big tree and drew back. She was starting to move a bit so my dad called and she stopped. I shot and hit and my arrow went through at least one lunch. We went back to the car and talked about it and where I thought I shot. We decided to hike down the road to give the doe some space so we went to see if we could find some grouse or a deer for my sister.
Eventually, we hiked back because we thought we’d given her enough time to expire. We went way higher up and way around to where we thought she’d be. We found a blood trail and followed it. We found her at the base of a tree still breathing slowly. We decided I should take another arrow to expedite the process. We got back in front of her in a good position and my sister was still at the top of the hill. I drew back and she shot a second time. The doe ran down a deep ravine and then we saw her collapse. So then we hiked down the ravine and back up it find her. It took a little time because it was a very steep ravine. Eventually found her, tagged her and started processing. My sister carried my bow and I carried her out to the road.
That’s when we realized we didn’t have a truck. So we tied to her to the top of the suburban. By the time we got to my brother’s house, there was quite a blood trail down the sides of the car. It was quite a sight but luckily we were in the middle of nowhere. When we got to the house, we finished processing, skinning and cutting the meat to make it easier to travel home. We eventually got back home to Hamilton that night and I cooked the back straps right away to celebrate.
I like to hunt because it’s a lot of really fun bonding time – especially this hunt. It brought me and my sister a lot closer. It was my first archery deer and I’ll always have that great memory. Hunting has always been a big thing in our family, not only for the adventure but it’s what we use to feed our big family. It’s a great pastime and much better than sitting home. I love to get outdoors and get some physical activity with my brother and sisters. It’s definitely brought our family closer because of all the time we spend together in close quarters. I’m sure it’s going to be passed on for many generations.
Blake Pitzinger, age 17 – Hamilton, Montana