I was much better at keeping a journal when I was younger. Regrettably, I have not been out in the woods as often as I used to be. But I have also gotten lazy with recording my hunting stories. But 16 year old me, fortunately, was rather good at it. The following is an entry from my journal.
Sunday Morning Rut
Breakfast that morning was a peanut butter sandwich, some Goldfish crackers, and a can of Faygo. Not necessarily the best breakfast for a person who is about to spend the next five hours in the below freezing weather, but the excitement of hunting tends to overrule any feeling of hunger, (although a full belly doesn’t hurt.)
Finishing up breakfast, me and the elders of our hunting pack (dad and uncle John) suited up for the second morning of rifle season, the morning of November 16, 2008.
Dad and I left the house together and split ways right outside the house as we went to the barn to get Z [a Honda 50 that we (grown men) used to get around the trails] to drive to his location. We left bidding each other good luck with the classic knuckle touch. I walked to the blind that overlooks The Field.
During that walk I learned what the expression “travel by moonlight” means. That big ball of cheese up in the sky lights up the November woods pretty well.
After reaching the blind after the coldest 2 minute walk of my life I sat in the blind that has seen so many deer taken from the field it looks over. I was seated well before dawn. I must have sat there for at least 30 minutes before I even saw a hint of sunlight. (Maybe waking up at 5 is a little too early.) As it always does, the sun did rise, and that morning it revealed some heavy snow clouds.
As darkness turned to day the snow started to fall on what seemed like was going to be a quiet day. Around 7:40 the snow was getting hard to see through and I was beginning to wonder if I would even see a deer through the tall brown grass and the heavy white snow. As I was pondering that thought a big doe followed by a 3 or 4 point buck hopped the gate on the west side ofthe field. It’s now 7:42. My first thought was “big deer.”
I did not notice the buck but I saw a doe walk into the first shooting lane. I made that “Meh” noise and stopped her after I already instinctively grabbed the 30-30 and cocked the hammer back. She stopped for about two seconds and as I was just getting my crosshairs on her she began to walk again, 4 more steps and I did it again, “Meh!” It worked, she stopped once again. She was now in the tall grass, the snow coming down harder than ever, my heart was racing, my right eye focused on those crosshairs over the vitals, my body held still, my mind gave a quick prayer and gave my right index finger the order to squeeze and the gun fired. The toe kicked violently and I knew I hit her, she exited the field and my vision as I finished pulling the lever action to eject the round and put a new bullet in the chamber. By the time I saw the young buck jump he was gone, oh well, I hit the doe, I knew I did. I exhaled all the air in my lungs and gave some fist pumps and then put the safety back on the deadly accurate weapon.
My heart was still pounding, even after the deafening boom it would not calm down. My mind was racing, “I should find that shell casing, how big was she? I should go look for blood, my hands are freezing, where’s my orange hat? I gotta go look for blood.” After 15 minutes of thought I decided to go track her.
I looked for about 20 minutes and found no blood. I decided to go back to the house and relieve my bladder and tell grandma about my shot. So I reluctantly walked to the house, relieved myself, then told grandma. As I left to go look some more she said she really hopes I find it. I found myself looking in the swampy area on the east side of the field. Still no blood… I was starting to become discouraged and pondered the possibilities of a miss, or worse, a gut shot.
Then I heard some animal creating some ruckus up in a tree, I looked up and saw a black squirrel climbing down to the tree about 30 yards away from me. My eyes followed the squirrel down the tree and at the bottom of the tree was a large white rock. Then I looked at the rock closer, I thought, “Is that the belly of my deer?” I looked through the scope of the 30-30 to see it better. “Is that it?” I took about 5 steps down the hill before I realized it was her. My mind flooded with joy. I got her! I walked up to her and looked, she was dead, I began to drag her and then realized I would need a rope for that. So I hung my blaze orange hat on a tree to mark the spot.
I walked back to the house to tell grandma that I found her. She gave me a hug and told me how happy she was for me. She told me how everyone who called was rooting for me “The Rookie” to get one. I don’t know why dad calls me that, to tease I guess, I’ve already taken 4 deer and I’ve been involved in the sport for years. Then I asked if she knew where I could find some rope and she suggested the barn. I took my jacket off and on my way to the barn an old man I call dad came riding up on Z (the Honda 50) to ask about my shot he heard.
I asked if he wanted to come back with me to see my kill and obviously he did, so we walked back to the field and I showed him my trophy. He told me excellent shot and we dragged her to the top of the hill in the field for later extraction by cousin Timothy’s quad. I tagged her and me and my old man began to walk back. We counted 125 yards to the blind.
So later we gutted her, hung her up, and took the tenderloin, and breakfast next morning tasted so much better.
Anyone who found this entry through the hunting category knows that I went from the story of my first deer, to the story of my fourth deer. Well, the reason is, and I’m not proud of it, is that my second and third deer were fawns. I was 13, and 14 when I did that. I was so embarrassed that I didn’t hunt when I turned 15. Fortunately, my dad was able to get me to go back when I turned 16. That hunt yielded some of my favorite memories, some were even photographed. I ended up living with my cousin Tim, whose quad is mentioned in this story, five years later when I transferred to a university from community college. My dad, uncle John, and I all got deer that trip. That was the last year my grandma would be around for deer season. It was also the last deer I would get until 2014. So like every time I have ever gone up north to my family’s cabin, I’m glad I went.