Friday, January 23, 2009

My First Whitetail

Occurred – November 2003
Written – January 2009

I had never been all that much of a hunter. I had been out deer hunting with my Dad some in the mid to late 90’s, but never got too serious about it. I was given the chance to go deer hunting with my best friend, Clay. Another one of my best friends, Jake, was also going to be going along on this hunt. It was Tuesday morning, two days before Thanksgiving 2003. I had come home Monday night from Purdue University for Thanksgiving Break. I met up with Jake and Clay over at Clay’s house on Monday night and we came up with a game plan for the following morning.

We had decided to head down to Clay County, IN. I’ll call this woods BG, being it was near the small town of Bowling Green. BG created some of my earliest and fondest hunting memories. It was where I shot my first deer, turkey, and squirrel. Any who, back to the story…so we woke up extra early Tuesday morning and got all geared up for what was going to be a pretty chilly morning.
Not having much of a selection of camouflage, I did my best with my brown Carhart bibs with a couple layers on under those. We arrived at the woods about an hour and fifteen minutes before daylight. I’ve come to make that a regular thing when hunting. I always like to get settled into my stand or location about an hour before legal shooting hours.
We started into the woods, after a few hundred yard trek we arrived to the spot where I was going to sit. There was an old wooden stand on top of this ridge overlooking two ravines. Instead of sitting in the stand, I decided to sit on a bucket down next to a huge Oak Tree. This Oak Tree is a major landmark of BG. So I decided to wedge this bucket between the Big Oak Tree and a small sapling. Jake and Clay continue to walk further back into the woods to their respective destinations.
So I wait. And wait, and wait for what seems like forever. Finally, it starts to get daylight. I wasn’t really used to sitting in the dark listening to the sounds of nature all around me. I’ll admit it, at first it was a little nerve racking, not knowing what all the sounds were. Now being a seasoned hunter and outdoorsman, I truly enjoy sitting in woods with nothing illuminating the terrain except the moon and stars. It is very relaxing. There is also nothing like being one with nature and watching the sunrise, shedding light and warmth on the trees and all of the things around you.
After the sun came up I continued to sit and wait patiently, which I have discovered is a very normal thing while hunting. Boring? Not quite, just relaxing. I watched numerous squirrels chase each other and play around. I remember seeing a few Red-Tail Hawks flying through the woods, also. But no deer.
As the morning went on, I didn’t think I was ever going to see a deer. It was almost 9:00 AM and I was getting a little restless. I turned and looked over to my left across the ravine. I could have sworn I just saw a deer! So I took a double take, there was nothing there…so I thought.
Convinced that I had seen something I kept looking across the ravine, scanning the hillside for anything that might resemble a deer. And then I saw a flash of white. Again, there it was! The white turned out to be the tail of a deer. The body of the deer was behind a large brush pile and I could not see whether it was a buck or a doe. Either way, I was excited to see a deer! After waiting for about 10-15 minutes it finally moved out from behind the brush pile with its head down, feeding. The deer took about 4 or 5 steps and raised its head, BUCK! I was ecstatic! I knew it was a decent buck, no monster whitetail but a solid deer by anyone’s standards.
Remember, I was not much of a hunter at this point in my life. So I shouldered my gun, which was a 20 gauge Remington 1100, with a bead for a site. It was a damn BIRD GUN! But I knew the slugs would do fine…I just wish I had shot it prior to going hunting so I had some kind of idea where it was shooting. Oh well, too late for that. So after trying to calm down, which by the way DID NOT happen. I squeezed the trigger, BOOM! Miss…the buck looks around, not sure where the sound came from. Again, BOOM! Again, miss! Now, I’m rattled! But I have to shoot again. BOOM! He drops, third time is a charm. But he starts to crawl away. That’s right, CRAWL. I think to myself, this isn’t good. I don’t want this animal to go through a painful death. Sorry folks, it did. As it is crawling away, I shoot a fourth time and hit it again. It stops crawling but neither hit was extremely fatal.
So now, I’ve got a wounded deer down. After what I’m sure sounded like the start of World War III breaking out. Clay and Jake come walking up the hill. They are wide eyed and asking if I got one down. In case you haven’t ever been hunting or seen any hunting shows, all hunters (including myself) think it is necessary to still whisper even after you just shot up the woods. You know, like the deer doesn’t know SOMETHING is in the area. Anyway, I point out the deer to them.
We walk down to the deer and it is still breathing. I think to myself it will expire here any minute and it did. Of course not until Jake deemed it necessary to slice the deer’s jugular! Needless to say, I was a bit shocked and not too happy. So much for having that deer mounted. Jake later apologized. Much like me, he didn’t want to see it suffer. I think he was just itching to try out his dad’s new knife. After this hunt, I have made it a priority to make sure my gun or bow is properly sited in. I hate to see an animal die a painful, slow death. This was a valuable learning point for me.
We all three helped in dragging the deer to a main trail. Clay headed to go get the truck. Jake showed me the ropes on how to gut a deer. Gutting a deer is very interesting and can be difficult if you don’t know what you are doing. Luckily, I’ve had a lot of guidance when doing it. Jake took care of this one for me, but Clay has been more than helpful in refreshing my memory on how to gut deer and also showing me many things about hunting in general. He is quite the outdoorsman.
We loaded the deer up and headed back home. And so it started, since this day I have been an avid hunter and outdoorsman. There is nowhere else I would rather be than hunting deer in the fall and turkey in the spring. There is just something special about being out there, it’s just you and all the wildlife. It is truly a blessing.

My first deer. Eight Pointer taken in Clay County, IN. November, 2003

Hunting buddies. Me, Jake, and Clay with my first deer. November 2003.

1 comment:

  1. white tail buck deer...munchin on clover...

    then you came along and pluphth, he was gone.