By Erik Reinhold
The August sun was in its full fury, and beads of sweat
coursed down my back.
After what seemed like miles of belly crawling and pushing my bow in front of me, I lay in a maze of sagebrush.
My hands, elbows and knees stung from a private acupuncture appointment by a covert, prickly pear cactus. I
could taste sweat.
I had spent the morning stalking a large herd of pronghorns. Now was my chance to breach their outer defenses.
With my two doe tags already filled, I had only my buck
tag left. My quarry, a couple of bucks among the herd of
does, lay before me, grazing. I rose gently to get a better
look, and before I could decide what to do next, a sentinel
doe saw me. Busted!
She snorted, alerting the group, and they loped a half mile
to private property. I followed them, walking cautiously
until I could see exactly where they were in relation to the
invisible property line – far into private.
Scanning the horizon with my binoculars, I found a new
target group: eight bachelor bucks feeding, playing and
feeling the hormones that would fuel their behavior during the fall rut. Watching this gave me hope, so I sat down
to soak up the portrait before me.
They wandered toward me and bedded within 500 yards.
Curious about the herd, they rose and raced toward the
does.
I rallied to the only cover around – a few boulders about
three feet in diameter. As I settled in, two bucks sprinted
past me, but by the time I fumbled to nock an arrow, they
were already in the next time zone.
Bewildered, I turned to discover two more bucks feeding
up over the hill. When the smaller one was about 20 yards
away, he saw me. But the larger one stood broadside, unaware. I drew my bow, calculated the yardage and released.
The buck dropped in his tracks, and triumph engulfed me.
After thanking the spectacular creature, I field dressed
him swiftly.
Trekking out, I let my mind wander over the mountains
around me, through the forests and across the high prairie.
I meditated on my next adventure, overwhelmed with appreciation for this remote country.

This story was first published in the summer 2013 issue of Mountain Outlaw magazine. Writer Erik Reinhold owns and operates Sizzlestick Welding, LLC in Gallatin Gateway, Montana, where he specializes in ornamental and structural metalwork.