Last Saturday, Robin Hood and I went on an overnight camping/hunting adventure into the Santa Fe National Forest. If you’ve never been, or if your idea of New Mexico is a roadrunner chasing a tumbleweed, I recommend it.
We found a campsite and settled in for the evening. Thankfully, with all of the rain we’ve been getting this year in the central and northern parts of the state, there weren’t any fire restrictions, so it wasn’t long before we had a cozy campfire crackling. However, with all of the rain we’ve been getting this year in the central and northern parts of the state, it wasn’t long before…it started to rain. Whomp whomp.
But! It didn’t last long, and we successfully kept our campfire alive. Which meant dinner could proceed as planned… which meant absolutely-knock-your-socks-off-delicious campfire tamales. Forget hot dogs!
After a mellow evening (well, mellow for Robin Hood and I. Ann the coonhound puppy did not have a mellow evening, as she had a strong need to sniff ALL THE SMELLS), we got up early the next morning, breakfasted, and broke camp. Then we drove to the top of the mountain we had camped on. We had a mission.
That mission? Small game; i.e. squirrels, grouse, and turkey. I counted my blessings that this kind of hunting a) did not require waking up before dawn, b) did not happen in frigid temperatures, and c) did not require head-to-toe camouflage (although admittedly, that’s kinda fun). Basically, it was a leisurely nature hike. We just happened to be carrying a .22 rifle and a recurve bow.
Our first foray yielded no grouse or turkey, but Robin Hood did get one squirrel with the .22. We…er…hauled back our harvest (squirrel gumbo, anyone?) to the truck, where Robin Hood cleaned the squirrel, bagged it, and put it on ice.
After a quick couple of sandwiches, we ventured back out in a different direction. In no time, Robin Hood had another squirrel, which he stashed alongside the trail. We walked on.
Now…I am a teensy bit competitive. No matter that my husband has been hunting for over a decade and I’ve never killed anything bigger than a cockroach. I wanted a squirrel.
We walked on, steadily scanning the tree tops and the ground. And then, there it was: a fluffy, darting movement amongst the branches.
I moved closer, quietly, and readied the .22. I found a good spot, took aim, and…the squirrel ran. Vaguely aware of my husband’s presence nearby, I kept scanning. There! One of us – I’m not sure who – spotted the squirrel again. Again, I got close, took aim, and this time, fired. And missed. The squirrel, not being dumb, fled into a tree.
A few minutes passed; we thought he was gone. I was ready to move on, but then! Another fluffy movement! The squirrel was moving slowly but surely down a nearby tree. Closer, closer…
I moved into position and lifted the rifle. I had time. I was going to be careful. I aimed, breathed, aimed, breathed, and…POP! And then watched, a little wide-eyed, as that squirrel fell out of the tree.
Robin Hood got there before I did and confirmed: a bullet through the heart.
My first kill.