We came to the field and found a lot of gopher holes as well as evidence that a badger had been doing some real-estate development, it is at this point I’m starting to really appreciate Kyle being there, well more accurately I appreciated the .22 magnum and Kyle’s proven marksmanship. The gopher patch was split in two by a patch of trees so, Kyle and I first walked along the southern patch and saw a bit, but nothing we could take a shot at. I then began to walk the northern patch while Kyle retired himself to keep an eye on his south patch from the comfort of his trucks seat with the radio on. I learned early in my walk that twenty meters is pretty close for a guy like me to be able to get to a skittish gopher. I learned quickly that soft, slow steps and smooth slow movement would help get me closer. Finally! I see a gopher in range… I take aim… Thwunk! And a miss… I walk slowly to my arrow, I was close, and that makes me feel a bit better. I stand quietly watching and sure enough a second appears. I shoot again and miss again, I am thinking more practice is in order. I walk sadly over to my arrow in the dirt only to find I broke my game head. I stick it in the dirt fletching up… no sense carrying it around if it’s broken.
I should mention, at this point in life I was too broke to afford at quiver. A few more minutes pass and I see another gopher, this one I’m not missing, it’s standing looking around, probably wondering what the noise is. I take aim I take a deep breath… I squeeze my release… thwunk and whack… I got him. My feeling of accomplishment rapidly shrinks when I see it’s still barely alive, and crawling down a hole with my arrow. I watch in amazement and disbelief as I witness a 30 inch arrow sink and disappear, like a battleship going down. I walk up slowly only to realize that with its
|The Gopher’s Trap For Me|
dying breath this gopher set a trap for me. It pulled my arrow down a badger hole! I look inside from a distance, about a foot down the tunnel makes a hard turn that I can’t see past. I can, however, see the last few inches of my arrow sitting there. That red and white fletching taunting and tempting me. I run back and grab my broken arrow out of the dirt and use it to try and fish the arrow out of the hole… its stuck and I can feel it vibrating. I can’t help but wonder if my prey is wounded or being eaten. I don’t like the thought of either. With a firm thrust I stick my broken arrow into the ground to mark the hole… I will get this arrow back. I run back to the truck where Kyle is sitting and enjoying the radio. I, with a bit of laughter, explain the situation.
Luckily for me he at least has a single leather glove in his truck for me to borrow, I would however prefer something along the lines of a pair of falconing gloves and some large tongs. I don’t know much about badgers other than they dig big holes, eat gophers, have sharp teeth and claws, and are not generally known for being friendly. Kyle and I walk back to my broken arrow. Me with my bow him with that 22 magnum, he jabs the barrel down the hole and I take a few deep breaths and reach in, I grab the arrow and it shakes violently, as I pull it out I see the gopher is alive barely he slides and falls off the arrow to his death, I don’t feel too good about that. A quick death is always the goal when hunting anything and gophers are no exception.
I did however get my first animal with my bow, it was just a little more difficult than I had hoped. After this I went back to the farm to practice on my target more and on Sunday I went out with my bow and some friends and of five of the gophers I shot my bow at, I killed four quickly and humanely, and missed one by mere inches. I learned with a bow that practice is key and so is slow and quiet movement which, I’m sure, will help me practice for deer season.
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