The Wasatch Behind: Road hunting in Utah
"The deer hunt is finally here," Uncle Spud giggled as he strapped on his 9-inch hunting knife, filled his pockets with 30.30 bullets, and dumped a twelve-pack of Mountain Dew in the cooler.
"Where are you hunting?" I asked.
"Everywhere," he said. "I'm road hunting this year."
"Road hunting!" I exclaimed. "Macho men don't road hunt. Road hunting is like fishing with cheese."
"Road hunting is a time-honored Utah tradition," he replied with a threatening look of indignation. "The pioneers shot buffalo from the seats of covered wagons as they crossed the plains."
"Yes, but the Indians had more fun chasing buffalo on horseback." I replied.
"Hunting deer on horseback is fun," he agreed, "but it's a sport for young Indians. On horseback, your feet get cold, your butt gets sore, and you get all wet when it rains. Besides, horses are adorable but they're as dumb as rocks. You have to steer them like an airplane and watch them every minute."
"Where is your trusty horse, old Spudnut?" I asked.
"Old Spudnut is like me," he smiled. "I had to put him out to stud. He's getting too old to pack them big bucks out anymore."
"Get out of here," I said. "You haven't tagged a big buck since 1963."
"Big is a matter of opinion," he said. "Every year those Utah trophy two-points get bigger and bigger when it comes time to drag them back to the truck."
"Deer hunting is supposed to be work," I said. "If it was fun, everybody would want to do it."
"You can make it fun," he answered. "All you need is a nice warm pickup truck, a two-pound bag of licorice, and a couple of Credence Clearwater CDs."
"I guess you do have a point," I said, "but road hunting could never be as exciting as sneaking up on old Mossy Horns in a jungle of oak bushes."
"Are you kidding me?" he said. "Road hunting is the most exciting and dangerous hunting I've ever done. It takes skill and courage to watch for deer at forty miles an hour, keep the darn truck on the road, and dodge oncoming traffic."
"Sounds like a real challenge," I agreed.
"Oh, it is," he said. "Road hunting Huntington Canyon and Soldier Summit is more dangerous than hunting Grizzly Bears with a bow. It takes a real man to meet the challenge. Lots of traffic on the highways nowadays."
"There are other hazards too," he continued. "I almost got blinded while road hunting one time."
"Blinded?" I questioned.
"Yea," he said. "I had my binoculars on a strap around my neck and got the eyepieces full of barbeque potato chip crumbs. I saw a deer, slammed on the brakes, and jerked my binoculars up for a look. They must put jalapeno sauce on those hot potato chips. I couldn't see anything for twenty minutes. Burned like heck and Bambi got away."
"Bummer," I smiled. And then I added. "Since you're going to be a road hunter from now on, did you paint your truck orange and put crosshairs on the windshield?"
"No," he said, "rust is natural automotive camouflage, and don't get too cheeky about crosshairs on the windshield. I remember hearing a story a couple of years ago about a road hunter who hit an old doe in the middle of the road while gawking at the hillside."
"You swore you would never tell anyone about that," I said.
"You never finished paying the bribe I offered to keep it a secret," he giggled.
"Oh, all right, I'll buy lunch again today," I growled.
"Are you driving, or riding shotgun this morning?" he asked sweetly.
"Old Rusty Bucket is your set of wheels," I allowed. "You drive and I'll keep us covered with my trusty ought-six."
"Did you bring the licorice and potato chips," he smiled.
"I got 'em," I said. "Shut up and drive. It's getting daylight fast."