When we left the house for our daily walk, I had no idea that the kids and I would soon meet a hunting party that included a camera crew and a professional athlete. Had I been forewarned about this turn of events, I would have grabbed a pen to ask for an autograph – or at least put some clothes on my toddler.
As it was, two-year-old Milo strode down the one-lane dirt road in front of our home in the middle of a remote cattle ranch au naturel, purely unashamed of his nakedness. In fact, he seemed rather proud of himself. I was just pleased that he chose to spontaneously relieve himself on a nearby rock instead of a hunting guide’s shoe.
When we first stumbled upon our unanticipated visitors, a lone hunting guide was stationed near the road and using high-powered binoculars to scout a buck for an archery hunt. He introduced himself as Troy and asked my inquisitive five-year-old daughter, Grace, if she wanted to look through the binoculars. Scarcely 0.87 seconds later, she was sitting on his lap, glassing for bucks and talking into the two-way radio. She told the hunting party all about the latest dance moves and frilly costumes in her ballet class. She was just about to send the entire group two ridges over when Troy rescued the radio and redirected the hunters back to the location of an actual buck. He told them to disregard the high-pitched babbling about twirling in tutus; that was a side gig and none of their business.
Five minutes later, Troy stood up and opened the door of his pickup. Grace immediately hopped in and called out, “Hey, you got any gum?” while drinking a bottle of a Gatorade and eating a pack of a trail mix.
I watched in astonishment as my small daughter raided a near-stranger’s food supplies in the middle of the desert. Her father and I had repeatedly tried to impress upon her the value and importance of living off the land, but I had no idea she’d paid attention so well. I almost teared up with pride when she brought me my own Gatorade.
We drank pilfered sports drinks and chatted with Troy and Mont, another member of the hunting party. Mont and his son Tyler operate Pro Hunts. Their company takes professional athletes on hunts, which are filmed and distributed via their subscriber-based web channel. The hunt that revolved around our driveway featured professional baseball player Chris Coghlan, a free agent who played 48 games for the Chicago Cubs in 2016 and helped them break the legendary 108-year curse to win the World Series that year.
Impressive baseball stats aside, Coghlan’s true claim to fame is eating a lunch comprised mainly of zucchini on a cattle ranch. When I saw him remove the lid from a plastic storage container full of veggies and pull out a fork, I knew that stuff was definitely imported. Around here, lunch isn’t considered edible unless it has bellowed and charged someone at least once during its lifetime.
Soon after, the hunters packed up their gear and headed back to the lodge at ranch headquarters. We thanked them for the snacks and waved good-bye.
“Mom, will we see them again?” Grace asked as we walked back to our house.
“I don’t know, sweetie,” I replied. “Maybe.”
“I hope so,” she said. “And I hope they bring gum, too.”
Here, Grace looked for bucks with hunting guide Troy.