May 2008
Happy Hunting Ground

Happy Hunting Ground

By Ralph Ricks

I have been hunting or fishing all of my life. I have never been able to hunt as much as I want to but then, who does? I once entered a contest for a dream hunt. You had to write about your dream hunt and why you should be selected. Needless to say, I didn’t win. That did get me to thinking, if I could go on any hunt I wanted, what would it be? What would your choice be?

While I am not one of those people who plans their lives and have certain things they "have" to do before they depart this life, there are a few things I would like to do. For instance, I would love to learn how to fly an airplane. Some people would like to skydive, but not me. Skydiving is one thing that if you want to fly an airplane you had better be willing to do at least once, if you know what I mean. Maybe this is why flying has been low on my list. My dad taught me there is absolutely no reason to jump out of a perfectly good airplane.

Anyway, if I was keeping a list of hunting accomplishments, which I’m not, I would be able to check off the following:

• I have harvested my first deer.

• I have harvested a limit of doves with less than a box of shells.

• I have harvested a deer with a center fire rifle, a muzzleloader and a shotgun.

• I have taken a duck.

• I have taken two deer in the same season (a big deal back then).

• I have taken two deer in the same calendar year.

• I have taken two deer on the same day.

• I have killed a turkey.

• I have called a turkey on my own and killed him.

• I have called and killed a turkey using a box call, pot call and, as of April 2nd of this year, a mouth call.

• I have taken a bobcat and coyote (this doesn’t really count for anything…its a lot like killing fire ants).

• I have harvested a buck large enough to mount; three in fact. (Which is two too many according to my wife.)

To many folks these things might not seem like much, but you must remember, I am neither the luckiest, nor the most skillful hunter out there so they are more personal bests than anything else. If I had to depend on my hunting skills to eat, I wouldn’t weigh what I do.

But there are a few things I’ve never done I would like to try. I say try because I know my luck. If I went to an outfitter who boasted a 99 percent success rate, I would be in the 1 percent that doesn’t. So, whenever I take to the field, I don’t raise my expectations any higher than having a good time. (I once got to go to Texas for a deer hunt. I spent three days crawling through mesquite trees and flew home skunked. I got prickly pear thorns in my leg that took three years to get out, honest!)

One of the things I’d like to do is go elk hunting. My dad always wanted to go when we lived in Wyoming but, for some reason, he never went. Whenever pheasant season would roll around, we always "helped" dad clean his stuff up getting ready to go hunting. I used to dig around in his bird vest and always find a stick of gum (a year or two old), some old bloody pheasant feathers or something. I was always in charge of counting his shells. As I got them out from the ammunition drawer, I would always make sure his "elk" bullets were still there. He had about 20 rounds of ammunition a friend had reloaded for him. They were for his mighty 30/06 rifle and had 200 grain bullets. To me they looked like they could kill an elephant. If I ever get to go elk hunting, I’m going somewhere in Wyoming to get dad his elk, or at least try. I think I might actually have some luck with that because even though dad has been dead for over 20 years doesn’t mean he doesn’t go hunting with me. I think the reason I have been more successful at turkey hunting than deer hunting is because when I am turkey hunting, dad is never far away (he was a BIG turkey hunter). So if I went to kill a Wyoming elk, he surely will be there and will bring me luck.

I used to read Outdoor Life magazine and before I could read, I looked at the pictures and dreamed of taking a high country elk hunt.

Since getting into turkey hunting, I think I’d like to take a grand slam of turkey hunting. The problem is, I’m such a novice I haven’t gotten bored with regular turkey hunting and there is a huge "Grand Slam" business I cannot afford.

I’d like to go to Alaska and hunt moose. It just looks like fun and I’ve been lucky enough to taste moose and its might tasty.

I’d like to hunt buffalo (bison) out in either Montana or the Dakotas; mainly because they are really good to eat and I’d really like to have a buffalo robe of my own.

Most of these can be reality but stay dreams because, if I ever get the time, I can almost guarantee I won’t have the money.

One thing I would really like to do is take a deer in every county in Alabama. This is something I possibly could do; as a matter of fact, I’ve got a pretty good start. I have killed deer in the following counties: Baldwin, Conecuh, Covington, Dale, Greene, Butler and Monroe. That’s seven, only 60 more to go.

Ralph Ricks is the manager of Quality Cooperative, Inc. in Greenville.