The Stuff Weekends Are Made Of (Part 3 of 3); Big Tyson’s Gopher Safaris

Every year for as long as I can remember my mother’s side of the family has gone to the Vermillion fair. Ever since I moved to the city I have spent less of the weekend at the fair and more of my time at the farm taking in every occasion to enjoy the outdoors. Summer 2012’s fair weekend, I think, has been one of the best to date. This story however cannot be told chronologically but rather divided by subject.

Me and My Cooey, My First Rifle

            I have been dating my Girlfriend Erin for about four years now, and as best I can tell I am one of the few people in her social circle who owns guns and hunts, in fact as odd as it may seem I got the impression most of them have never shot a gun before. Naturally my love of firearms immediately rubbed off on a few of them such as, my now good friend, Jason who now owns a few guns of his own and on a few occasions has out preformed me at the range. As well as our friend Nikki who went with Erin to get their firearms licenses. The catch to all this is that because we live in the city and all have jobs it’s hard for me to actually take most of these people out shooting. 

       The Sunday after the Vermillion fair however, the conditions were perfect as many of our friends had come out for the fair and were now spending a portion of the day at my mother and step father’s farm where I had spent my teenage years. I of course took this opportunity to teach anyone who wanted to learn how to shoot a gun. Everyone was willing to try so naturally I ran through the obvious rules: always point in a safe direction, finger off the trigger, action opened, etc. I taught them on my old Cooey .22 single shot but found it was a touch heavy for the ladies of the group and eventually shifted to my much lighter Savage model 29B, A beautifully built pump action .22 but sadly it does not lend itself well to beginners as the action needs to be run hard and tube magazines are not an easy thing to figure out at first. After that I showed a few of our small group how to use my semi automatic Ruger 10/22. I found however that it was kind of hard on my nerves to give beginners a semi automatic. There were no incidences throughout the training and all my pupils did very well however some were much more enthusiastic than others… perhaps as a result of the fair’s late night festivities. After a while of plinking at the trusty ole’ metal gong that so many hours of my youth were spent terrorizing with .22 shells, Jason and I decided it would be a fun idea to take some people gopher hunting. The only ones who took us up on the offer were Dell and Jason’s Girlfriend Shannon, who wanted to come along as a spectator. Everyone else decided to head on home or have a nap, in hind sight maybe I’m a boring teacher or it had something to do with the fact that the fair the evening before had a well stocked beer gardens… Either way the four of us hopped into Dell’s truck and headed toward a patch of field that I knew had a lot of gopher activity. As we pulled up we could see gophers running to their holes and perching up to stare into the distance. We were looking for gophers and we found a lot of them.

           Naturally as we pulled up close, got out of the truck, and started loading guns they all started to hide. We had with us four .22s; my Savage 29B pump action, my Ruger 10/22, my trusty Cooey single shot, and Jason’s 10/22 as well as my bow. Naturally I started with my bow, Jason took his gun, Dell took the old Savage, and Shannon armed herself with her sunny disposition. Over the next two hours we had all swapped guns, though I was the only one interested in my bow. Jason and I were getting very few gophers and Dell was getting none at all, we were all having an off day I guess and I think our trading guns was very similar to when I have poor luck fishing and change my hook more often than reasonable. Jason had been out gopher shooting before so he

Dell and His First Trophy

was already hooked, he knew how fun it could be on a good day. My fear was that Dell would lose interest with his lack of success, nothing ruins a person’s first exposure to a sport than perceived failure. There seemed to only be a few gophers out and we were having a hard time hitting them. I could see Dells shots were close, I’m sure he gave a few haircuts, I was very impressed given that today was the first time he had shot a firearm. I still think I rushed him into gopher hunting but he was rearing to go so I felt he was ready.

         Finally one stood up about 50 yards out, ran, stopped, and stood up again, Dell took his aim, steadied himself, and shot. There it was, Dell’s gopher in the distance, doing the death throws and flails that every gopher hunter has seen. All at once he had gotten his first gopher, I felt the need to get a picture of such a momentous occasion. We stuck around a bit longer with some more success then decided we best get back for some dinner. When my mom cooks nobody wants to miss dinner. The way home from the fields I opened and closed the gates from field to field. At each stop I gathered some wild flowers into a small bouquet for Erin at the house, I’m never too busy to try and score some extra points. The whole wile however I couldn’t help but wonder the finance, logistics, and potential for a gopher safari company… it’s not at all dangerous and everyone who has done it seems to enjoy it. But I suppose there aren’t enough gophers here for it to work. Maybe they already have them in Saskatchewan…

            When the weekend was over, we all went home seemingly in unanimous agreement that next year we would all be coming back out again for more of the fair and gopher hunting. I suppose I should run that past my mom and Darrell since it is their house. In the end of it all I had learned that long range shooting is about more than equipment and has far more math involved than I had thought. Bow hunting gophers is a whole pile of fun but takes a lot of practice. Being hung over at a shoot is a lot easier than I had thought… but still quite undesirable. I own enough .22s to arm a small gopher extermination force, even if we do need some practice. Finally a good weekend like this is the result of good company sharing both our interests and skills. 

Posted in Archery, Huntingwith no comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *