The key to success in hunting is equal parts skill and knowledge, plus a whole lot of luck. You can be the best marksman and still wind up dealing with poor conditions and other misfortunes. On the other hand, sometimes luck just happens to be on your side.

The first hunting experience I shared with my husband was during an early river antlerless season. At the time we were only dating.

We had gotten permission to hunt a private pasture in Antelope County. We’d gone out prior to opening day and set up a ground blind on the side of a deep ravine. He made sure we had enough cover to stay hidden but also enough space for a clear shooting lane should a deer make its way through.

The river antlerless season in early October allows for hunters to take a doe, as long as they are within 3 miles of a river. It is a good way to get out before rifle season and enjoy much milder weather.

So the afternoon of opening day we made our way to the blind and got situated inside. Then began the wait. We passed the time by telling stories under our breath, while keeping our eyes peeled on the ravine bottom.

Every so often we would hear a rustle in the leaves only to discover a squirrel was scampering around. Eventually, movement caught our attention on the opposite side of the ravine. A flock of turkeys emerged over the crest and down to the bottom of the gully. They walked within 15 yards of our blind. Both of us held our breath as the group passed us by and disappeared over the hill.

I had never been that close to wildlife before and watching them in their natural habitat was a thrill.

With the turkeys gone, we got back to the business on hand: felling a deer. We had been hunkered down for a couple of hours, when finally something caught my eye. Off to the right of our blind and 40 yards off, I spotted a doe. At first he didn’t see it and almost thought I was pulling his leg.

Then the doe stepped out of the cover and he zeroed in. He had it in his sights and whispered, “I’m going to take it.”

I don’t know whose heart was racing more as he pulled the trigger. The shot thundered out and, for a second, everything was still as the doe dropped in its tracks.

We clambered out of the blind and made our way toward his prize. The deer was larger than we had first realized and the shot was perfect. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a smile that wide as when he lifted that deer’s head so I could snap a few photos. With the excitement over, we set to the task of lugging the 150-pound carcass up the steep ravine bank for field dressing.

I have learned over the years that it doesn’t always come that easy. We have been on a number of very difficult hunts since then, but I will always remember how lucky we were that day. What made it memorable wasn’t just the good fortune of dropping a deer a few hours into the hunt on opening day, it was the entire experience. The way I see it, time spent in the great outdoors with good friends and family is always time well spent.

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