Author, Jay Nistetter
Dear mom and dad,
Haven't written you in awhile so I thought I'd jot down what's been happening here.
Didn't go hunting Sunday because of possible rain. So... Eileen thought she'd take me out for some exercise. There are several climbing hills around town so she picked one for us to walk up in order to get our hearts pumping. We got to the top OK but on the way down Eileen slipped and fell. She put out her arm to break the fall and jammed her arm hard enough to cause a slight fracture just below the elbow. It didn't break clean through, but she will still wear a cast for awhile. She's OK. Said she needed some peace and quiet so she sent me away to do some varmint calling last weekend.
When I think about it, you may not see exactly why I enjoy doing that sort of thing. I'm sure you've wondered from time to time what it was that attracted me to the sport. I get asked over and over by people all the time why I enjoy killing poor helpless animals. Actually there is no justification when the question is offered in a manner such as that. There are many technical justifications for hunting, but rational never seems to sink in to most people.
Why do I kill animals? First of all I don't kill animals, I hunt animals. At the same time I protect animals. I personally (along with every other hunter) provide the money and resources for game management to "police" the many animal species in order that they may survive. This is done through licenses, fees, taxes, donations and volunteer time and labor. I continually challenge those who question my interest in hunting to produce proof of their participation through money, time and labor that promotes, protects and improves all wildlife.
Why do I hunt? That's a better way to ask the question. The simple answer to that is because I'm good at it and it gives me an appreciation for nature on all levels by continually challenging my abilities at every turn. Sight, sound, smell, touch, taste to some extent and most of all, the mindset it takes to solve the many complicated puzzles of where, when, how and why. Add to that other factors like time of year, time of day, weather conditions (past and current), terrain and a desire of self-motivation. Sounds a little more complicated now, huh?
Back to task at hand. My true intent of the letter was to tell you about last weekend.
Remembering the hunt is always more fun than the actual hunt itself. The memory will last forever.
Remember back. Did you ever have the kind of friend that always seemed to turn the simplest of things into a complete adventure? Like the time your buddy saw an albino deer and you almost convinced him that it was just a goat? Or how about the time your buddy painted a vinyl stool camouflage colors only to have it stick to his pants when he stood up to draw down on a nice buck deer. Or maybe the guy who let go with the wrong hand from full draw of a 70-pound compound bow. Ouch! 260 pounds flat on the floor in 0.6 seconds!
Anyway these are only some of the many reasons why I enjoy hunting. Bagging the game is never as fun as the stories and lies about blunders and missed opportunities.
I can recall every detail of every hunt. Just don't ask me to tell the same story twice.
Up at 1:00 AM to head south to Sierra Vista, Arizona with a good friend and hunting buddy (we'll call Jerry) and meet up with another good friend and hunting buddy (we'll call Barry) for a day of predator calling. Together, these two guys can make being stuck in the mud a fun and memorable event. A day in the field with these two results in a book full of amazing yet undeniably true stories. The volumes are many and just as thrilling as the following chapter. Trust me.
Anyway, we fooled around chatting and visiting after we arrived at Barry's house and got a late start on a day of calling predators in the high desert. The air was crisp and cold and a slight breeze blew from the west. The Mexican border was just a spit away and we were surrounded by snow topped mountains. Brrrr! Should we try the Mule Mountains or travel through "the pass"? Maybe Bisbee or that big crater hole where all the Javelina are. Doesn't much matter. Let's head over towards Tombstone and see what happens.
First Stand: ( "stand" is what you refer to as the place you stop to call predators): About five miles out of town towards Tombstone we pulled off the pavement to make our first stand. On the second series of calls (waaa!, waaa!, waaa!) I caught movement to my right. It was a bobcat. I told myself to tone it down and change my rhythm. You have to work a bobcat a little different than you would a coyote or fox. If Jerry could wait long enough and hold his breath, the bobcat would cross only a few feet in front of him. Jerry was on it for about ten minutes waiting for the cat to come out from behind a bush. Although Jerry was pretty sure it was a bobcat, he wasn't exactly 100% sure. He first thought bobcat, but a 6 power scope and a bush at 30 yards didn't let him see the whole animal. Jerry started second-guessing himself wanting to be sure. When the bobcat finally presented a shot, Jerry popped it at about 30 yards with his 25-06 (overkill).
Jerry didn't stand up so I kept calling. Finally I called off the stand and asked Jerry if he got it. Jerry said that he thought he had shot a bobcat and that he didn't see it run off. I congratulated him and we all went to retrieve his cat. We found fur and a small amount blood but no bobcat. Jerry picked up a piece of fur and the first thing he asks was. "What's that smell like? Here. Smell it."
Barry: Smells like house cat to me.
Jerry: Smells wild don't you think.
Jay: Yeah. Like I could tell if it just had a bubble bath.
Jerry: Fur looks kinda' yella'
Barry: Just what color d'ya think a house cat is?
Jerry: (starting to get concerned by now) Nah! At first I thought it was a fox, but it moved more like a bobcat. It was a bobcat for sure.
Barry: I'm tellin' ya', you shot somebody's pet. Probably has a collar too.
Jerry: IT AIN'T NO HOUSE CAT!!!
Barry: Bet some little kid is watching Homeward Bound as we speak praying her kitty will find its way home.
I started laughing realizing this was the start of one of those days that goes from funny to absurd. Jerry started picking up all the pieces of fur. I guess he was going to piece enough together to figure out exactly what he shot. Maybe even have it mounted. Can never be sure with him. Barry and I knew it was a bobcat but wouldn't tell Jerry. No way. We were going to have fun with this one. The bobcat was in plain sight to Barry and I and had us both pegged. We couldn't move and our only hope was that Jerry would take it. The cat was wide open to us but was behind a bush from Jerry's perspective. That's why it took so long for Jerry to shoot.
We followed a sparse blood trail to a hole in the rocks. Jerry looked deep in the hole and said....
I SEE IT!!!!!
IT'S HERE IN THIS HOLE!!! (Jerry always gets excited).
Barry: Is it purring?
Jerry: CUT IT OUT!
Jay: Well, stick 'yer hand in there and fish it out.
Jerry: I'm not going to stick nothin' in there!
Barry: Hell. It's just somebody's pet cat.
Jay: Well I doubt if it's going to come to you. You'll have to drag it out.
Jerry: You're crazy! You come down here and crawl in this hole! Hey Barry! Get down here and help!
Barry: Ain't my kitty.
Jay: It would be a shame if you left it 'cause I'm ready to go call in a real bobcat for myself. Besides...we need to get the ID tag so we can contact the owner about the sad news.
Jerry: Alright! I see where this is going. I know what you're doing. OK. I don't like it but I'll drag it out and if I get tore up... (Jerry didn't finish).
Jerry set his gun down, got on his belly and slowly inched his way into the little cave. With only his belt loops to his boots showing, I blew real loud and hard on the varmint call. (Whomp!) Jerry hollers "OH CRAP!!!" and comes backing out the hole rubbing the top of his head.
Jay: Where's the cat?
Jerry: It was just a rock.
Barry: You shot a rock? Never seen anybody skin a rock before.
Jerry: NO! I DIDN'T SHOOT NO ROCK!!!
We got back on the blood trail and lost it about 50 yards farther down the wash. It seemed to be headed for some large drainage culverts under the paved blacktop. Barry pointed out that the cars seemed to be slowing down probably looking at a wounded house cat on the road. Jerry tromps off towards the culverts to investigate and to prove once and for all that he didn't shoot no house cat. When we caught up to Jerry he was motionless and half bent over with his hands on his knees cautiously looking into the culvert. There were signs that some homeless person (or people) had apparently been living in the pipes although they weren't around. The three of us tried to pick up the trail for another 30 minutes but lost out. Jerry couldn't help but think about a yella cat. That's when Barry and I began having field day teasing Jerry about shooting some homeless person's house cat. Every time we saw a car pass, a plane or helicopter overhead we whispered to Jerry that they must be looking for the guy who shot that homeless person's only joy in life. Probably their only reason for living. Poor, poor kitty cat.
We all three sit down and snuggle into a bush and become invisible.
Jay: My turn to call again. Meeeow! Meeeow! Meeeow!
Jerry: VERY FUNNY! NOW CUT IT OUT!
Barry: My side's really starting to hurt. Glad I'm not some kid's pet.
Jerry: YOU JUST WAIT! YOU'RE TURN'S COMMIN'.
LAST STAND OF THE DAY
Later on that day after several attempts at calling Jerry was calling and I spotted a single coyote coming to the call at about 300 yards out. Then I hear..."HOLY CRAP!!!!" and all hell breaks loose! Branches were breaking, rocks were rolling and I hear feet pounding the ground. I thought either Jerry or Barry had fallen and was crashing down the hill head over heels. It turns out that a coyote had come hauling in towards Jerry from behind and when Jerry turned around to see what the racket was, the coyote had dropped his anchor and was on a full stopping skid to keep from crashing into Jerry's backside. The coyote turns and there goes Jerry trying to chase him down on foot.
Barry looks over at me and says... "Jay? I think he's trying to run 'em down." Jay: Damned if you're not right. Sit down 'cause I had another coyote coming in at 200 yards.
I tried to ignore what was happening and started blowing my hand call. LOUDER! Well here comes Jerry back up the hill while we were working the second coyote into shooting position. Jerry is talking at the top of his lungs (like he always does) saying... DID YOU SEE THAT!!! BARRY! HEY BARRY! WHY WEREN'T YOU WATCHING MY BACKSIDE! I PURT NEAR GOT RUNNED OVER!" (I was blowing the call at the time) Jerry still tromping towards us up the hill... HEY BARRY! WHY WEREN"T YOU WATCHING BY BACKSIDE???
Barry (stands up)...BECAUSE HONESTLY JERRY, I DON'T FIND YOUR BACKSIDE THAT APPEALING!
My eyes got all moist and I couldn't blow the call anymore. So much for the second coyote.
Jerry (still talking in his normal tone)... DID YOU SEE THAT! HOLY CRAP!!!! I ALMOST GOT RUNNED OVER! HOLY CRAP!
Jay: Hey Barry. Did you see what happened?
Barry: Nah. All I heard was Jerry say OH CRAP! And when I looked over his way all I saw was Jerry running off into the desert. There was holes (poof) of Jerry's silhouette through the bushes disappearing on down the hillside just like you see in one of those cartoons.
Together we called in 1-bobcat, 1-fox, 5-coyotes and 1-Subaru for the day's work. We weren't able to harvest anything. Sometimes the day turns out perfect like that.
Then there's the story of why pigs have flat noses....
Discovering subtle tips (or in some cases morals) of any story vary from reader to reader.
From the preceding tale one might determine that the memory of the hunt is most important of all. Someone else may highlight success as spending time with friends and not necessarily killing animals. The purist inevitably will point out that you should always watch your back door unless you can outrun a coyote.
Good friends, good weather and good stories your way.