Every autumn weekend the forest and plains of Western South Dakota fill with Central students, hunting deer. On a recent occasion, one Cobbler discovered what it’s like to be hunted.
A cool breeze blowing through the colored trees means only one thing for some: it’s hunting season. For people like me, it means my weekend won’t be spent in the chaos of the city, but looking at animals and hills that roll for miles.
The peace and quiet of hunting by myself (or possibly with a partner) is one of the my favorite feelings in the world. This hunting season, I had one of my most exciting experiences. I learned exactly what it feels like to be the hunted instead of the hunter.
I was crawling slowly through the tall grass when suddenly the antelope that I was hunting bolted without spotting me. I sat there confused for a moment, wondering what I did wrong. Did it wind me? Did it hear me? The antelope only ran about 400 yards away, a manageable distance. I laid in place for about 20 minutes. Then out of the corner of my eye I saw a tan color approaching in the grass.
“Is he going to attack me? If so, does he have rabies? This is crazy.”
There was a coyote about 100 yards away stalking towards the antelope and me. I began to get nervous. Is he going to attack me? If so, does he have rabies? This is crazy. The coyote didn’t stop until I moved my arm to scare him, hoping he would turn around and trot away. But instead he hid himself in the grass, continuing to crawl closer on his stomach, trying to be more strategic than me, not realizing that I was big and was more than the white bandanna I was wearing. (Trappers have little white flags to attract the animal into thinking it’s a rabbit.) As the coyote came within 40 yards, I was finally scared enough to stand up, no longer concerned with the antelope, and I watched as the coyote bolted.
It was the most exciting thing that has happened to me while hunting, and I appreciated it more knowing that he was trying to stalk me to survive. Nature is an amazing place that many take for granted. The unpredictability of hunting is what truly makes me love the sport.
Photo: “Just remember: when you think all is lost, the future remains” by Dan Hutcheson on Flickr