I felt the stock of my bow while I was sitting in the blind. Frost had already began to form where I rubbed it off seconds ago. I looked through the small window at the everlasting snow. “Wait, was that a deer moving along those trees? ” I asked myself. It looked more like a kangaroo making its way through the snow. I could barely stand up in the cold. I pulled back, ready to take the shot. Being one of my later hunts of the season, it was very cold. Nearing the end of the season I was anxious to finally get a deer, as we hadn’t even seen one all season.
It was already a weird season so far: beginning with a strange heat wave, ending abruptly with a cold front. It had snowed the night before, only about an inch. We put our teeth (claws that help with traction) on the bottom of our boots, just to be safe. It was cold enough that I put on Stage 3 boots (heaviest insulated), with wool socks. We got settled into our blind after a 2. 57ish hike (according to tracker). I was hunting with my neighbor, Pat, as I only hunt shotgun with my dad. It was nearing 5 a. m, so I have been up for a couple of hours. Still tired, we could hear the forest waking up around us, even though it was still dark.
At 6:37 (a. m. ), still dark, it started to snow. Just a bit of a flurry, nothing of much concern. Nothing happened for most of the next couple of hours, other than the sunrise and an attempted racoon shot. We stayed out for as long as we could can we planned to leave the blind at noon. We saw nothing until about 11. It was a young doe, to young to take the shot. So, we got out our call and started calling. Pat kept the call going while I got out the binoculars, looking at where the doe was. I noticed something that unnerved me a bit. Not, the doe, but what was behind it- a black sky.
The sun had already rising, and since it was winter, we had come to expect cloudy skies, but this was something else. Obviously it wasn’t completely black, but one glimpse at it sent chills throughout my body. I had to do a double take before! said anything to Pat, but when I did he seemed unfazed. “The wind will take the storm parallel to us,” Pat assured me. And at first he was right. The storm was fading away, until the unthinkable happened: the wind shifted right toward us. Within 30 minutes it was a full on snowstorm. And the worst part: we never noticed the wind shift. We were about to have the day of days.
We were not watching as the wind gust brought the storm back around to us. While that was happening, we were focused in on something more important at the time: a prize buck. Moving along the tree line, at about 100 yard, much to far to take a shot at, we just watched him. We got the call out, and kept a steady call pace. Pat and I never noticed the steady flurry of snow that began, we were too busy gaping through our range finder, hoping that the buck will get any closer. I would guess 20 minutes after the snow started we noticed it coming down. It never worried us, because at one point it let up.
The next chain of events happened so suddenly that it was hard for us to react in time. We were still watching the buck, which had moved 30 yards nearer toward us, when the snow started back up. All we did was eat some more jerky and tell ourselves that the snow will stop soon. The snow stopped once more, and so did the buck. It froze, but in a calm way. It started sniffing something on the ground, and I never got to see what it was. Within 20 minutes of the snow stopping, it started again, Right off the bat, it was hardcore. We never had anytime to react. The wind started blowing harder than ever, and the snow blinded vision.
Our first thought was to pack up and get out of there. But, the snow was so intense at the moment, we could not see our markers. Markers are basically thumbtack with reflectors on them, so when we shine a flashlight on them, they lead us toward our blind. We waited for hours, with the snow still falling heavily. At one point we did decide to make a break for my truck. I say my truck because Pat’s is 2 Wheel Drive, and it had already snowed that morning, so we took mine instead. My grandfather had given it to me only a couple months before, just to have around in case we needed it, and for me to use hunting.
It was 98 Ford Ranger, and it was 4×4. “Good call on this,” Pat said. “No way we would have gotten out in my tank (his truck was considerable bigger than the little Ranger). We got to the truck, and I fumbled for the keys. I was driving, as Pat’s philosophy was: “your truck, you drive,” Pat said. “Besides, who will notice a 14 year old driving through the country this early. ” I found the keys, and turned the ignition. The engine made a strange clicking sound. I tried again. Same result. ThHe battery was dead. I looked around the cab for the source and found it: the overhead light was left in the “on” position.
So we were stuck here. Probably 6 to 8 inches of snow and climbing, with a dead truck. Luckily I had a secret weapon- a backup alternator. It’s like a small generator that I hook up to the battery, pull the cord, and it charges the battery. We usually bring stuff like this, just in case. It finally paid off. The downside is that it takes an hour or so to get the battery charged to the point to be able to start the engine. So we got it running, and decided to head back to the blind for a bit, to see if we might get lucky. We get to the blind a lot faster than we expected. We set up and scanned the woods for a stray buck,. nNothing..
When the snow fall slowed, we decided to just spend the day out here. It was around 2ish, and we felt great. We still didn’t see anything until around 3ish, but it wasn’t quite a sight for sore eyes. It was the black cloud. And it brought the show this time around. Before we knew it, the snow was thick enough to replace tar. We couldn’t see anything out of the blind. We knew we wouldn’t risk trying to return to the truck with the possibility of getting lost in the snow. This is about where my adrenaline kicked in. I wondered how long we would be stuck here. We were not exactly prepared in the food department for being stuck.
Hours passed, until darkness neared. The snow was relentless, and we accepted our overnight fate. We had already let our families know what our situation was, and they returned with their love and hope. We were both exhausted, and we hunkered down as best as we could in the small blind. We were both cold, but we knew we would be ok, because once we closed the blind’s window, our body would heat up the little tent-like structure well. I slept all through the night and we both woke up within 5 minutes of each other, at daylight.
We opened up the blind window to a rush of cold, and a flurry. About the same amount of snow as last night,” Pat noticed. “Must have been a pretty uneventful night. ” “Yeah,” I said. “Let’s get the heck out of hear. ” We dragged our cold and groggy bodies to pick up the blind and get ready to roll. We started down the snowy path back to the truck. We could not see our footprints from the day before. I checked my tracker and saw we were 34 mile away from the truck. Minutes later, I heard a thunder like noise and saw he flurry all at once turned into a heavy snowfall. “Here we go again,” Pat said. “Only three quarters of a mile to go,” I replied.
I was starting to get worried about whether or not the Ranger could get out of the thick, wet snow. By the time we made it back to the truck, another inch or so of snow had fallen. As fast as we could, I got in and started it. It took 10 seconds or so, but then the engine roared to life. I gave it a bit of gas, and threw of the heat. I got out to find that Pat brushed most of the snow off the truck. We threw the gear in the bed, and I took the backup alternator out of the engine compartment and got back into the truck. “Do you think you should drive? ” I asked Pat. “Its your truck, you know it better than I do,” Pat replied.
I put the truck in 1st and tuned the knob on the dash to 4H (4 Wheel High). I gave it some gas, and let out the clutch. It didn’t budge. I gave it more gas, and I felt the rear wheels spinning. The 4×4 didn’t engage. Without me asking, Pat jumped out, and gave the truck a couple mighty pushes from behind. I felt a pop and a click on the steering wheel, and knew that the 4×4 was fully engaged. I stopped and Pat hopped in. “Drop it,” he said. He meant drop the clutch, so I would get a bit more of a powerful start. We started moving, and I turned the wheel and started up the steep hill that led to the road.
To little Ranger was making it through the thick snow, all the way to the top. We got on the road, and we thanked our lucky stars, ‘We got out of it”. The snows were still covered with deep snow on the way home, but we took our time, driving very carefully on the slippery roads. After about 10 minutes of driving, I pulled over and had PaAt drive, because I was almost falling asleep, tired from the long hike through the deep snow, and the amount of time spent in the cold. We made it home alright, and in about 5 minutes I was asleep in my warm bed, with a great experience under my belt.