Our three-generation hunting trip involved our daughter Leanne Farrell of Port Hardy and her son Michael Farrell of Surrey.
In terms of time it was simple for me, but Leanne and Michael had to make special arrangements to meet vacation and work schedules. But where there is a will there is a way. By the time we had things worked out our actual hunt was from Monday to Thursday inclusive.
The decision to try the three generation trip was driven by Limited Entry Hunting (LEH) Authorization for an antlerless mule deer in Management Unit: 3-19 for the month of November.
Unit 3-19 is generally south and west of Kamloops bordered by Merritt on the south. It is primarily a land of open grasslands, Interior dry belt Douglas Fir and lodgepole pine forests, dotted with several trout-bearing lakes.
Much of the land is owned by cattle ranchers, the forests are generally Crown owned. We were treated as special guests by the Frolek Cattle Co. Ltd. due to a long family relationship that covered most of seven decades.
This is a large ranch and they have an excellent system of allowing the public to hunt on their lands. They issue a small yellow access permit like a fish and game club membership card. They request no ATVs or off-road bikes. They also ask you to report vehicles or persons misusing said land, or any injured livestock. They also ask you to leave all gates as found and not to remove firewood or other material from deeded land.
On the first day of the hunt, as we drove south of Kamloops on the old Merritt Highway, we were amazed at the large numbers of mule deer in most of the lower hay fields along the highway. By the time we had driven down to our hunting area we had passed att least a couple hundred deer, largely does and fawns.
There was no hunting in the lower fields, but my! there was a healthy population of deer. When we reached our hunting area it was not quite the same. We were hunting open grasslands and sagebrush ridges. There were some large bucks in the distance, but we never saw one that was in shooting range.
Early on the second day my grandson Michael spotted a large buck making its way up a ridge and opted to try to get above it before it entered the timber. In the meantime Leanne and I encountered a large group of does in the sagebrush and I filled out my LEH on a very large doe. I estimate it dressed at least 150 pounds of excellent wild venison.
We had four glorious days of travelling through the Interior dry belt landscape and although we saw many deer we were not successful in getting a shot at a four point or better buck, which was the legal size for mule deer.
Michael had one close encounter with a large buck, but the buck jumped when he shot and lived another day. We also had the opportunity to hunt immature moose and whitetail bucks, but they successfully avoided us.
All in all it was what hunting and being in the outdoors is all about. We took pictures of a scary burnt forest from this summer, and naked Ponderosa Pines in starch nakedness due to loss of bark by beetle attacks. We drove by and stopped at many old cabins and barns that told of the history of this beautiful land.
Hunting is a many sided affair and learning to love the land is an important part of it. In the meantime we harvested some excellent British Columbian wild meat.