Hunting with the Westerbrooks.
When I was a young girl, about 13, my family and I went on a vacation in the mountains of Colorado with my parents’ best friends, the Westerbrooks. They had two boys close to me and my little sisters ages, and we always had a great time together.
We had a one room cabin in the mountains that we would go to each year. I remember one specific trip more than all the others for a very specific reason. It was my first kill.
I was raised both hunting and fishing and camping from the time I was a little kid. This trip was very different for a couple reasons, it was my first kill. It was also how it happened, and what happened afterword that made it so unique.
Me and both the boys, Tom and Jimmy and my kid sister Linda went horseback riding while our parents were hunting together. We were deep in the forest and my kid sister’s horse spooked just as we came upon a mountain lion in the tree above us. Her horse bucked, and she was thrown off. She hurt her arm but was OK enough for us to keep going. We caught her horse, she climbed back up, and we kept riding for a while. It took a little bit to calm down because it was sort of scary and we finally decided to get off our horses and walk a bit to see if we could find a rabbit or a squirrel we could shoot.
I should be honest here and tell you the truth that I was never a crack shot like they were. My kid sister could shoot anything she aimed at and so could both the boys. So, it was a big deal for me to actually hit something. They all loved to make fun of me …. Linda said I couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. The worst part was she was right. I loved fishing, not hunting, but as we walked on a way, we came across the largest rabbit I had ever seen. I took out my rifle and just as I shot, the stupid thing jumped straight up in the air.
To my great surprise I hit the thing. But it was where I hit it that was so cool. I had shot him right between the eyes. No this is not a fish story. I am not exaggerating. I really did shoot that rabbit right between the eyes. Of course, I would never have even come close if it hadn’t jump up as I shot. But it was the coolest thing to happen to me in a long time. So, I was on cloud nine.
It was starting to get late, so we decided to head back to camp. I couldn’t wait to show my dad my prize. We got back and put up the horses and walked back to the cabin. Just as we arrived the local forest ranger showed up t the cabin. He saw what I had in my hands and asked me it I had been bitten or was the blood on my hands from the rabbit. I told him that I had shot the rabbit and no he hadn’t bitten me because he was dead when I picked him up. That’s when he told us that there had been a few cases of plague the had shown up in some of the local livestock and we should not take any chances and to get rid of the rabbit and for me to get cleaned up ASAP.
My dad made me carry the darn rabbit out behind our cabin for a quarter of a mile to make sure we were out there far enough. Then he made me dig a big hole and bury that darn thing. By the time we got bake to the cabin it was almost dark. I was mad and hungry and very tired. I was so mad that my dad made me carry the rabbit all that way, but he said if I could shoot it, I could carry it. End of discussion. I never went hunting up there again. We went camping up there a lot more times, but I just would go fishing while all the other kids went hunting. I didn’t care, I liked fishing a lot more than hunting anyway. So, I guess it all worked out in the end.
I have been very fortunate in my life time to had grown up in a family where we were taught the value of life, the value of preparation and the value of taking care of yourself. My dad always said me and my little sister were not going to be the girls who couldn’t change a tire, or a spark plug or fend for ourselves. So, I truly appreciate what he did for us, and will always be grateful.
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