The Family Package - 2

I immediately had the buck in my scope and was tracking his movements with the mil-dot reticle. I was estimating the distance to be 300 yards straight across the draw as I reached up and dialed three minutes of angle onto the M3 dials atop the scope. As I watched the buck, waiting for him to pause for just a short second, the next thing that happened caught me completely off guard. The nose of a mule deer doe came into view as the buck I was watching seemed to walk up to the doe as if they were old friends. It was at this particular moment that a sinister grin crossed my face as I immediately formulated my plan.

I had three tags in my pocket. One tag could be used for either a buck or a doe, and the other two tags were for does only. I could take both of these deer from this one position. The buck I had been watching and his new girlfriend began circling each other and as the buck would begin approaching her from behind, the doe would trot away playfully, taunting the infatuated buck.

My plan was simple, I was going to wait until the buck was fully engaged in the most sacred act that no man should be interrupted in doing, the sacred act of being a man and spreading his genes. It was at that particular moment that I would seal the bucks fate, that sacred moment when he was feeling the best in his entire life, that moment when I would end his life. I patiently waited for several minutes, watching the mating routine at work and watching the mule deer Casanova work his magic on his soon to be mate. As I said earlier though, my patience needed some work.

I had had enough waiting and decided to take my shot the moment the buck stood still for just a moment. He finally did as the doe trotted away one more playful time. In that split second I began my firing routine. My position was solid as I exhaled and paused at the bottom of the breathing cycle. The crosshairs settled behind the bucks shoulder as he stood perfectly broadside facing to my left. My trigger finger began to naturally apply pressure as it had hundreds of times before on this very trigger.

A short moment later, the buck was still standing perfectly still as a thunderous boom echoed down the valley, immediately followed by a hollow whoomp, indicative of a solid hit on the buck. As I came out of recoil, blood splatter was immediately evident on the hillside behind the buck and he was staggering forward. He fell less than 10 yards later, life pouring out of his chest.

The doe ran a short distance up the hill at the sound of the shot, then turned around and watched her boyfriend expire below her as if wondering what he was doing. As I watched the doe look at the buck below, my firing hand reached up and worked the bolt on my rifle and chambered another round, immediately followed by the crosshairs in my scope coming to rest on the doe’s front chest. She was facing toward my direction, quartering slightly to the right. She hadn’t run far and was not much beyond my estimated 300 yards. I hadn’t even noticed, but I was already into my firing routine and pressure was already being applied to the trigger.

A second shot rang down the valley, accompanied by the beautiful sound of another solid hit. The doe sprinted down hill into the draw bottom just out of my view. Based on the amount of blood creating a trail streaming down the hillside from where she stood, I knew she would collapse shortly after reaching the bottom. I took a short moment to look around at the countryside surrounding my position, and then began to pack up my gear and collect my brass from the two fired rounds. I only had been given a few hours to find some deer, and within about one hour I had two nice deer on the ground that would grace the table with their meat at our home.

The day prior to this I had also taken a whitetail doe fawn from another location on the in-laws’ property. As the wife and I drove down the gravel road going back to Bozeman I told her my tale of the deer, which now rested lifeless in the back of our pickup. My wife had the wonderful thought to take some pictures to remember this special occasion so we slowly came to a stop. My wife is a nice country girl and of course had no qualms about dragging dead deer out of the pickup and arranging them nicely for a remembrance photo. This is the photograph that is now known throughout our entire family as “The Family Package.”


Nicholas Gebhardt has been an active hunter primarily pursuing mule deer, antelope, coyotes and prairie dogs since he was old enough to legally hunt. Nicholas is a precision rifle competitor and uses the knowledge he gains from competition shooting to aid in his ethical taking of game in the field under most any condition. He enjoys custom rifles and is usually in some form or another of either planning or building the next one. Nicholas has his B.S. in Wildlife Biology from the University of Montana and is a Captain in the Montana National Guard.