Navy Family Keating Unit Deer Hunt

                       NO EASY DAY!                                                                                    

It’s Saturday, October 1st, 4:30 AM. We are drinking coffee, standing around the fire and making plans where we’re going to hunt. It is opening morning and this will be our best chance to take down a nice buck.
It’s the first time we have our two sons, Dave and Scott together for a hunt. They have both been Navy SEALs for many years so we haven’t had this kind of opportunity, and we are all excited to get out in the woods.
Bill, my husband, has been hunting in this area for almost fifty years, so he is our coordinator. (not to mention, camp boss)
The boys will go together on one quad (one they borrowed from their sister, with bright pink lettering) with a boat seat attached to the back for a passenger seat. Real SEAL TEAM equipment! I promised not to post pictures on Facebook.

Do I see a Pink lettered Quad?
Do I see a Pink lettered Quad?

Bill and I will go a different direction on our quad with the boat seat on the back for me, which I love because I sit high and can see deer better.
We left at daybreak and hunted until 10:30 when we met back at camp for a big breakfast and a new strategy.

The boys had actually found a spot that looked untouched and rather promising, so with full bellies and a renewed determination, when we headed back out for the afternoon hunt, they went back to that same spot, which they dubbed “Delmer Pass” ( inside story ) for another look,  and Bill and I went the opposite direction.
Bill and I have been riding in this terrain for twenty years on quads without incident. We have been up and down some really rough trails and enjoyed every ride. We have spotted many deer and elk on our rides. But, this ride was different! We crossed a rocky creek and headed up the mountain, when we came to a crossroads. Do we go on the narrow right, or the rocky gully on the left? We chose the gully…began our left turn and the next thing I remember was Bill asking me if I was alright. He had asked me many times, but because our quad had turned over and I was knocked out on the rocks I didn’t hear him. But as I came to I was aware of a really bad pain in my foot and my head was bleeding like crazy. I asked Bill to please get the quad off me. The poor guy was trying but he couldn’t get his legs to move for several minutes. We could smell and feel gas spilling on us so we struggled together to get free. Somehow we did it and my foot came free. Pain gone!

Bill, and old Navy man and father of the Seals, doing some Marlin Spiking (knots)!
Bill, and old Navy man and father of the Seals, doing some Marlin Spiking (knots)!

He got the first aid kit and cleaned up my bleeding head and wrapped it in gauze, and I struggled to my feet. Together we set the quad upright, and realized our rifles had flown off about ten feet away. Believe it or not, when we sighted them in later, they were still right on
Bill insisted we go into the nearest town hospital and have me checked out, which we did and four hours later we were back at camp with our two concerned sons. No breaks, no stitches……just a small concussion and cuts and bruises. Lesson learned; getting too old to ride on my boat seat and maybe cut back on some of those really rough trails! I love that boat seat, but it has to go……
We all enjoyed a big fire that night and had a wonderful time just being together.

Well we do not see any of the elusive Navy Seals in this picture...
Well we do not see any of the elusive Navy Seals in this picture…

The next morning, those two NAVY SEALs were up and out early on that pink lettered quad, determined to come back with a nice big buck…….it didn’t happen….not for any of us. And that afternoon the oldest son, Dave and I walked through the woods together for about three hours and only saw the bald headed type deer.
They told me in the SEALs they were taught to think like the enemy, so we should think like the deer.( I agreed to do that, which I’m sure they got quite a laugh over) problem being, who the heck knows how a deer thinks? Instincts, instincts!
Well, maybe it worked for them because the next morning our younger son, Scott shot a real nice 3 by 3 on a hillside to their left. They were using the “field of fire” technique. Dave being left handed would be responsible for whatever showed up on the right side, and Scott being right handed would cover the left. They both got him in their sites however because his horns were hidden among the tree branches and hard to make out and they wanted to be sure. He turned his head just right and Scott said “buck!” and sent a perfect shot right through the heart…  By the time we reached them Dave had it all gutted out and they had it tied on the quad.( always team work with them ) We headed back to camp for the pole hanging, dressing out and bagging and bragging ritual……followed by a celebratory straight shot!
They didn’t get a chance to double their score because they had to leave the next day. It was hard to see them go, because we never know when we’ll get a chance to hunt together again. (OK I admit I cried a little)  Best hunting trip of our lives, with memories to last a lifetime.

Help me they are dragging me up the embankment!
Help me they are dragging me up the embankment!

For the next two days Bill and I hunted hard……we still rode the quad most of the time but one day it was down to nineteen degrees at night and really cold in the morning so we took the truck. We drove out to an area to find a place to get out and hunt, but as we are driving along I yelled at Bill to stop because there was two four point bucks right off the road on my side. Our dream scenario! Except for the fact that if I get out and put a round in the chamber those bucks will be gone. So, Bill gets out and goes around the back of the truck, but the deer are in front. He never saw them before they both walked off. We lamented over our lost opportunity as we drove on down the road.
After about four turns I yelled at Bill to stop again……there they were looking right at us, on my side of the road still. I still didn’t think I could get out without scaring them off so I sat still while Bill got out and went around the front of the pickup, off the road and nailed one, while the other ran off. (never to be seen again)
If we needed a bigger hint that we are getting older we got it in spades with this big buck. His body was really large, and a handsome 4×3 rack.
He was lying down in a deep ravine and we knew we weren’t going to be able to pull him up without help so we marked our spot and drove back and got the quad. So, now we have a dead deer, the quad with the winch on it and the pickup to put the deer in. Sounds pretty simple, right?  NOT!  We had to tie the quad to the pickup to keep it from going over, and then there wasn’t enough cable to reach the deer, so we had to keep adding rope and pull, then add more and pull. It took two hours to get it to the road.
Then, Bill gutted it out and we were ready to throw it in the back of the pickup, which was a great idea only the buck was too heavy and we couldn’t get him in there. So, next obvious answer was tying him on the quad, but we couldn’t lift his body up on it. By now we are sweating and exhausted and I sat on the tailgate and came up with a scathing, brilliant idea. Get that buck tied to the front of the quad the best we can, put the ramps down and drive it up into the truck and dump him in. We agreed that was the answer, however, I didn’t plan on me being the one to drive the quad up the ramp but Bill had to hold the bucks body up off the ramp, so I couldn’t get out of it. I said “I’m scared, I’m scared” all the way up that ramp, but I did it. (it was actually kinda fun) If you’re wondering why we didn’t just quarter it out, the answer is simply that we didn’t even think about it until that evening. Oh well!
We got back to camp and thank God the hunters in the camp next to ours were there to help hang it. It took us four hours from kill to camp…… As they say in the TEAMS!  

“The only easy day was yesterday.”

Fran L. 2016

3 thoughts on “Navy Family Keating Unit Deer Hunt”

  1. Great stories with our military having some time with family. What better way than to be hunting. I appreciate all our military, but the Navy is on top of the list. I was in the Navy a long time ago, working the skies. Nothing like the elite Seals.

    Again Bwana, Thanks G.W.B. aka GW

  2. Bubba! Thanks for letting others put their stories on your site. A great deal of enjoyment to read them. Great job on the hunt with the Navy Seal sons’ coming to hunt with mom & dad. Love the comment about the Pink Quad also. One has too do what is needed. Never waste time walking to cover ground quickly, if you have a ride…

    Sam Houston

  3. To the writer, great story with family values. A quad can be dangerous for sure. Great that you had your sons and husband to share the hunt. Probably an easy hunt for the Navy Seals… The Best of the Best. HooYah!

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