Nina Den Beste tells tale of killing two bucks

Nina M. Den Beste of Paonia holds the antlers of an elk she harvested during a lifetime of big game hunting.


NINA DEN BESTE/Special to The Daily Sentinel

Paonia resident Nina Den Beste poses with a bull elk she killed on one of her hunting trips.

(This article is another in The Daily Sentinel’s occasional series of hunting stories written and submitted by western Colorado hunters. Author Nina Den Beste lives in Paonia.)

It was one of those rare years, probably in the late ‘50s or ‘60s, when we were allowed two deer for each license.

The cabin was full of those wonderful smells — pancakes, bacon and eggs. Dad was cooking breakfast, my brother Jade and I were packing lunches, and my husband Ray and my other brother, Bus, were saddling the horses ready for the long ride.

It was still dark when we headed east toward Green Mountain and a patch of big black timber that my Dad always wanted to get to before anyone else. It had a couple of elk wallows, down timber and you could see only 50–75 feet because the timber was so thick. The only other thing you could see was the sky overhead.

Dad stayed on the north side, Ray was on the east, Jade was on the west, and I was on the south. Bus was to run the timber and push the game out to the standers.

I tethered my horse to a quakie and settled down to wait for Bus to scour the spruce patch. After some time I heard a couple of shots from Bus’ rifle, and I said to myself, “Oh, boy, meat.”

It wasn’t long until I would hear deer bumping down through the trees. There were four, and I dropped two of them. Now we really had meat for the year.

I leaned my rifle against a tree, which was about 15 feet from the first carcass. I had just gotten a good start dressing the deer when I heard heavy panting at the top of the ridge — man or animal?

Then came, “Hey, Nine.”


“What didja get?”

“I got two four-points,” I answered.

“Oh,” I heard this relieved sigh. “Well, I just shot a bear, and he’s headed your way, so watch out.”

My heart started beating a mile-a-minute because I didn’t want to tangle with a wounded bear. I’m not that brave.

I retrieved my rifle, laid it across the body of the buck I was dressing and went back to work.

Suddenly I heard brush crackling and the rustling of fallen leaves. It seemed to be coming right at me. I reached for my rifle and got ready — crouching down to be as invisible as possible.

In a second or two the animal appeared. Actually it was four more bucks that went within a few feet of me. I leaned back on my haunches, heaved a sigh of relief, and watched those beautiful bucks go right on by.


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