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Hillbilly Hunting

Fifteen-year-old Katie Keesbery didn't let her family's antics or nature's pranks keep her from harvesting this fine Wyoming whitetail.
By Dave Keesbery

-- My family of four - that's Mom, Katie, 15, Hunter, 3, and me - went on a memorable hunting "expedition" one Sunday in November 2005. Mom packed plenty to keep Hunter busy since he became easily restless. I couldn't believe all the extras going along on this trip!

We left Casper, Wyo., and headed north on an hour-long drive to one our favorite hunting spots, a ranch outside of Kaycee. The kids slept along the way. We arrived before first light, so we tried to settle into a field and set up. All of a sudden, KABOOM! We all looked at each other, first in shock and then concern. It was still dark and somebody was shooting! We couldn't see hunters or what they might be shooting. At dawn, we found the hunter and saw that he was shooting at turkeys. We then began tracking along the river with hopes of seeing some white-tailed deer.

As we trekked along, not seeing any, we finally decided it was time for Hunter and Mom to go back to the truck. It was time to eat breakfast and for Hunter to change out of his jammies into something more suitable for all the scrub brush and cactus plants. Katie and I, still scouting for deer, walked along the ridges to the ranch house and then turned around to follow the river back to the truck.

We discovered we'd need to cross the river, so we found a shallow spot. Only it wasn't as shallow as we thought. Katie stepped halfway across and landed in a spot up to her waist. In an effort to help Katie, I moved and caused my two-way radio to fall off my shirt pocket into the river. Finally, we retrieved the soaked two-way and crossed the river to get back to the truck.

The blunders continued.

It was a very windy day, so I moved the truck to lessen the wind and accidentally ran over Hunter's toy shotgun. Well, one less thing to worry about!

With Katie sopping wet, and Hunter saddened by the loss of his gun, our family decided to drive a bit and see other areas of the ranch. Katie took off her wet pants and was down to her boxers and camo shirt. No shoes, socks or pants. After driving for quite a while, I saw some whitetails and pulled to the side of the road. Katie climbed out of the truck, stood to the side of the road, sighted-in the deer and made a good hit.

Unfortunately, the deer was on the next ridge, and Katie and I realized we would have to climb down the steep slope and up the opposite one to retrieve it ... pretty rugged country. Mom stripped off her pants (she also had on long-johns) and gave them to Katie, along with her boots and socks. Nothing fit but at least she was covered! Hunter napped in the truck and Mom stayed with him.

Upon reaching the deer, Katie and I figured out that we had to drag the whitetail through the river bottom to a spot where we could easily get it to the truck. That accomplished, it was finally time for pictures! I'd already field-dressed the buck, so I had blood up to my elbows. Katie was in very baggy pants and was having a hard time keeping them up. She was also showing signs of allergies, her eyes and face swelling up (sagebrush?). Mom (in the dreaded long-johns and barefoot with plenty of buns and thistles) went to get the camera.

Hunter walked around the truck to see the deer and managed to bang his forehead on the downed tailgate ... big gash. Out came a juice pack to slow the swelling and pressure to stop the bleeding. About that time, our family parodies became public as the back country road turned into a major thoroughfare! Three vehicles drove by, and ironically, only commented on Katie's nice 4x4!

Katie is very proud of her deer. All-in-all, it was a great family outing. And, in the long run, we did use most of the extra stuff that came along this trip ... just not necessarily in the manner it was originally intended!

-- Dave Keesbery, New Castle, Colorado

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