In this Retro WON, Mia and the Little Gal describe road hunting — their way. Don’t worry, they’re shooting cameras and we’re sure you’ll appreciate their tips for making car time a fun time.
It is a year-round event but tends to really pick up just after the first thick snow. It’s called “Road Hunting” and it is something I’ve been working on with the Little Gal for many years. During this time of year, the Little Gal has to get her morning chores done early so we can hit the road early before school.
Armed with cameras, we peer out the windows. I have to drive a little slower because the deer and elk tend to be everywhere including in the middle of the road. We spy deer or elk from a ways down the road. We turn our cameras on, silence the radio and roll down the windows so we can “sneak up” on them. The Little Gal has learned that you have to be fast in order to get a good shot. If she’s lucky, they’re on her side of the truck.
There have been many failed attempts. Sometimes I see a truck in the rearview mirror that’s following too close, or there is not shoulder on the road, so I unable stop for the photo op. Other times, the animals spring into the middle of the road and the slamming of the breaks means we brace ourselves and shout, “Watch out, Girls!” That, of course, means there were does in the road. If it were cow elk, it would be “Get outta the road, Ladies!”
Mia’s Wildlife Language
The vocabulary of the “conversations” I have with wildlife is yet another thing. The Little Gal used to laugh at me as I would drive by the wildlife and say in a little girl voice, “Morning, Girls.” Little Gal has learned these are specific conversations and she’s learned the dictionary of words I use.
“Girls” are does.
“Boys” are bucks.
“Doo-Doos” are button bucks and small bucks.
“Ladies” are cow elk.
Bulls are usually referred to using “Look! Look! Look!” This of course refers to any bull larger than a 4×4.
The Little Gal knows that if she hears “HOLY MACKEREL! LOOK! LOOK! LOOK!” that the bull is a 6×6 or anything that might score above 300. This is also generally accompanied by the slamming of breaks. [Editor’s note: So glad you wear seat belts!]
I take photos of does or cow elk on the side of the road and the Little Gal says, “Mom! Those are just does.” I say, “Just? What do you mean ‘just?’ Those are beautiful girls.”
The Little Gal has learned that all the wildlife is beautiful. It is, however, a greater challenge to capture the big guys with their crowns in a clear photograph.
Making it a game
Another challenge we partake in is a contest on the way home from school. We make a bet before they leave. “How many bucks do you think we’ll see today?” Sometimes there will be bucks, sometimes bulls or does. We give our numbers out loud and are then not allowed to change the number along the way. We peer out the windshield and count. The winner of the contest gets the evening off from doing chores. However, we’re both winners because of the amazing things we’ve seen.
The “road hunting” sure makes for a fun drive. You never know what you’re going to see if you open your eyes to the outdoors. It is way more fun than texting or watching a movie!
Follow Mia Anstine’s life at her excellent blog, My Many Outdoor Adventures.
This column first appear on Dec. 22, 2011.