Pondering the Big Questions

By Kevin Johnson

Pondering the Big QuestionsKevin Johnson
Utah, 2008, DIY, Public Land

Who would ever guess that returning to work after hunting could be fun? Four days after a successful muzzleloader hunt, I was all too eager to show hunt photos to my coworkers. Most shared my enthusiasm, but one passing coworker asked, “How can you be so excited and happy about having killed a beautiful animal?”

Without trying to explain it to her, I finished with the photo show and began to walk back to my desk. The posed question haunted me. What do you say to someone who doesn’t understand the passion for hunting that so many of us do?

For two months, I had been like a kid in a candy shop. Fall was here and that meant the beginning of the hunting season. As a Dedicated Hunter in Utah, I was able to go on the archery and muzzleloader hunts. I used the archery hunt as a scouting trip and an opportunity to instill the love of the outdoors in my seven-year-old son, Kaden.

With bow in hand, I set out to show my son exactly where his dad disappears to each fall. As we quietly walked through the aspens, we encountered six bucks. One was a nice four-point, but it was just out of archery range. Our stalk on him resulted in the familiar sound of hooves thumping the ground as he bounced away.

We also startled up a coyote at close range. Kaden was a little apprehensive and had many questions as we watched the coyote scamper away. Upon returning from the archery hunt, I was excited for the muzzleloader season to open.

The muzzleloader season in Utah is at the end of September. Fall colors rage in the mountains. As we drove up the mountain, the orange and red oak brush leaves blazed alongside the winding and ascending dirt road. Farther up and nearing 9,000 feet, the reds and oranges gave way to gleaming golden aspens contrasted against the dark forest pines. A sense of awe and excitement filled me as I took in the beauty.

I always get visibly excited for the hunt but haven’t always had the greatest success. For years I’ve heard stories of the many bucks my hunting partners passed up for something bigger while it seems I see numerous spikes and two-points. After hearing about the whereabouts of their passed up bucks, I’d head out, determined to come back to camp with one. Discouragement would set in once again when the only bucks I would have a chance at were small bucks.

The muzzleloader hunt started out no differently. I saw a spike and three twopoints on opening day. I hiked for miles and put my time in, but still no mature buck. Thoughts of another year of five days of hunting with no tag filled or a tag filled with a yearling two-point nagged at me.

Pondering the Big Questions

For a full account of Kevin's adventure, go to page 40 in the October/November 2009 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.