Opening morning at last!

Every year, I wait for this morning, the opening morning of elk season, and this fall of 2100 was no exception.  It’s hard getting up at 4:30, but the results are sure worth it.  As I climbed out of the warm bed, my wife muttered something about my sanity, but I’m used to that by now.

The bathroom floor was cold; I ducked into the closet for my slippers.  Good thing the coffee-maker timer kicked in, at least I had a hot cup to take with me.

The garage was really cold.  After all, this was Colorado in November.  But I managed to wrap my bathrobe tightly around me and pushed my Lockheed-Martin/Lazzeroni launch unit out into the driveway.  I got the launcher raised and locked in place and hurried back inside to warm up.

I had to wait until about 5:30 until I could log into the GameNet system.  Lots of traffic on opening morning, and the system was pretty loaded up.  I eventually got in.  Now, the fun could begin.

The Microsoft/GameStar IV satellite was turning its cameras right on a clearing in the Holy Cross Wilderness right as the sun came up.  I’d been waiting for this moment all year!  The last three mornings, GameStar IV had picked up a nice 6×6 right in this clearing, right at sunrise.  Creature of habit, that bull.

It took a few minutes to switch my computer’s display over to GameStar IV, but I got the picture up just in time to see my 6×6 standing right where I’d seen him before, right at the edge of the clearing.  Now, if he’d just hold still for about three minutes.  I quickly activated the GameStar’s infrared laser tracking unit and locked it on the bull’s back right between the shoulder blades.  Really lucky, too, to get a laser the first try; I’ve lost many a deer and elk waiting in the queue for a laser to come free.  The GameStar birds only carry two dozen lasers, and at any given time you might have a hundred hunters trying for a lock.

Slaving the launch unit’s programming unit into the GameStar took only a few seconds, and I quickly got the flashing signal that the Lockheed-Martin/Lazzeroni seeker head was tracking.

This is it!  I thought to myself, as I hit the “LAUNCH” key.

I heard the booster ignite, and there was a sharp BOOM as the missile left the launch tube at Mach 2.  I turned back to my monitor and punched up the magnification on my GameStar IV link; yes, yes, the bull was grazing unhurriedly towards the middle of the meadow!

About now, the LML booster would be passing through 50,000 feet, and the burn time should be about up.  The status window on my screen told me the seeker was tracking, and that the unit was performing optimally.  Good, good!

At the top of the ballistic arc, the GameTaker 2100 unit detached from the booster, and attitude thrusters fired to point it downward; I noted that it picked up on the infrared laser designator from the GameStar right away.  The GameTaker started downwards.

Now was the critical part, where the bull could blow my whole careful, painstaking effort just by moving into the trees and breaking lock.

All went well, though.  At 1500 feet the bio-degradable ceramic heat shroud popped off the GameTaker, and two drogue ‘chutes popped open to slow the bird down.  The bull still hadn’t figured out what was up.

I took a sip of my coffee.  The GameTaker was committed now; the bull was perfectly positioned in the middle of the meadow.  Now he heard the GameTaker coming in, but it was too late – he could shake the laser now, and the GameTaker would still do its work.

As the bull looked up, the final stage activated, and the GameTaker deployed its cameras, snapping off about forty perfect 24-megapixel pics focused on the elk as the unit fell to earth.  The last one was perfect, taken from near ground level upwards at the bull looking imperiously downward at the little bundle of plastic and ceramic that dropped in only twenty feet away.  I imagine he ran off into the woods right after that, but the GameTaker had already shut off, and I’d closed the GameStar viewing window to start downloading my pictures.

Yep, picture 40 was the best, and 36 was fairly good, too.  I set for a 24×36” print and sent both pics to the Photostat printer/framer and went off to tell my wife a tale of another successful opening morning.