This is dedicated to my father, William F.Jones. Who through his wisdom and love of the outdoors instilled in me the same as a child growing up that I'm sure his father also did the same. His lessons and guidance will always be followed and I'll do my best to uphold his wishes. He taught me to respect nature and to always protect her. For this Dad! I Thank You.
I remember as a child too young to hunt but as all hunting fathers do, being taken along with my father while he hunted and him telling me thing's about the how to's of hunting. I was around 8 year's old when my father took this buck with his 12 gauge shotgun. I remember how proud he was to hang it in one of the old maple tree's out in the front yard and how when heard about, other hunters from our town came by to look at it and congratulate him on taking such a nice prize. The local paper took this picture to publish in its weekly edition. Taking a buck still in velvet though not unheard of was a rarity to say the least and to this day, still is. Years ago I myself took a nice spike horn still in velvet during a black powder hunt. After the taking of it I sat on a log next to it staring at it for a long time thinking of my father with fond memories.
Throughout all the ages hunters, friends and all sportsmen alike would sit around the campfire, in the hunting camp, out in the woods and fields or anyplace they would happen to meet and through idle chat would almost always turn into relating to each other the events of the day of any adventure they've had. Each of these experiences would turn into another and so on.
As a sportsman you should be able to imagine the feelings and settings of any event you read. The following is of a true life experience. Relax your mind and try to put yourself into the settings you're about to read. Every hunter has so many of these it's hard to tell them all but I'm sure you'll know and feel exactly what it's all about. Each one is a memory and I'm sure that each one of you has the same.
I like to write a short story of each one of these successful hunt's to keep them fresh in my mind. As you all know events can change with each telling and it's not because we like to add but we will always remember something else about the hunting or fishing experience. So let's get started and I hope you can imagine and enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.
It all began in 1965
As I became of age to hunt alone and after listening to and hunting with my father, I learned a lot from a man that has had so many of his own hunting experiences and also learned a lot I'm sure from his own father as each of us has done and will continue to do as long as there's the sport of hunting and parent's that hunt. I remember my first deer as if it was yesterday. It's a memory that each of us have and will never forget. Although the story of this one hunt was not written down it's still as fresh in my mind today as if it were yesterday.
MY FIRST MEMORY
The alarm went off at 4 am and I woke with an enthusiasm to hit the woods in one of the spots my father has shown me that we've hunted together in the past. The morning was crisp and the leaves were still thick on the trees making it hard to completely scan everything in the surrounding area. The weather was predicting a warm day after sun-up reaching into the low 60's. The colors of fall are something in itself to remember with the changing of the leaves to bright reds and amber.
My father had to go to work this day on the railroad but as we sat and talked about anything and everything that could happen gave me one of the best pieces of advice any father could tell a son, have patience most of all, when you sit, stay still and be ever alert as a deer can and more than likely will come from any direction. This I found to be true as most of us have. With that said I told my father I'd see him later as he wished me luck. I reached the area where I was going to hunt with 30-30 Winchester under my arm and making sure I had everything I needed predawn, with flashlight in hand I headed into the woods to sit the morning and hope that I could get lucky enough to make my father proud. I'm sure he was anyway but adding a deer to this equation would really be a topper. Anyway, I reached a tree I had previously picked out and putting my hot seat down sat and waited, listening to the sounds of the night woods.
I could hear things starting to happen as daylight was making itself known. Sounds of distant footsteps, squirrels and birds wakening to start their search for food. It was a normal day with no rain, just the wet ground from overnight dew. The leaves were a little quiet to walk on which every hunter knows means a lot if we need to still hunt. I sat there quiet as daylight broke watching ever so alertly to all my surroundings, to catch the glimpse of a deer trying to sneak by on a nearby trail that has been well used in the past or just to watch one heading towards me feeding along not knowing I was there.
An hour has passed and no deer that I could see but grey and red squirrels were working the surrounding oaks gathering acorns and storing them for their winter supply of food. Another hour went by and as all younger boys I was getting antsy, you know the feeling. I sat very still all this time only moving enough to adjust my position for the normal places of soreness. Patience, patience always told to me and I did as my father instructed. Finally at around 9 am, I just couldn't sit still any longer and thinking that up over the ridge that was out in front of me I may catch one by surprise IF I could walk and stop silent enough to get up over it. I slowly lifted my 30-30 Winchester my father bought for me from across my legs and started to rise slowly as not to scare anything that could be hanging near. All my things in my backpack and rifle in hand I took a step forward.
Wait!! Huh?? No way was that deer laying down about 80 yards to my left all that time I sat there and not seeing him. yup, it was true, there he was a nice spike horn about 7 inches each side as a guess, and as I rose so did he and started bounding off out in front of me towards the ridge and up. He wasn't going fast but just fast enough and catching me by surprise I didn't have time to bring my 30-30 to shoulder for a good clean shot.
In an instant I decided to cut to my right slowly and around to the other side of this ridge and up to try to catch up to him. I moved ever so slowly watching ahead of me as I neared the top of this about 40 foot high hill. As I stepped just to the top, out in front of me was a group of pines and in that group I could see a white tail in the upright position and knew from the past and my father's telling's that he was edgy and ready to go at an instants notice. He didn't know I was there and I could see him looking to his left at a quartering angle to see if I was following but I guess I chose right going the way I did. I was lucky then huh? I raised my rifle to my shoulder slow so as not to spook him into seeing my movement, picked out a spot just behind the front shoulder and squeezed the trigger. Everything was happening fast now I could hear him breaking branches and thrashing, I knew I hit him. I stood there waiting for the noise to stop then went to see my prize.
I entered the pines and what did I find, NOTHING, no deer just broken branches, no blood but tracks all over. As I scanned and searched the area I did find a few drops of blood leading off away from me and immediately thought, no way did I lose that deer, my first. I thought I made a good shot and felt good that I did it right but after seeing no deer down I was to say the least disappointed. After following the few drops of blood ahead I came onto an old logging trail, which way did he go? I couldn't tell.
Now I was really felling down in the dumps some and thinking. Oh well, I didn't know what to do next, wish my father was here to help me I thought, but I had to go this one on my own. I waited a few minutes standing there and said to myself, well, I may as well go left first on the road and scan to see if I could pick up more blood. I walked about 80 yards down the trail and was stopped dead in my tracks. THERE he was laying right smack dab in the middle of the road and still not done. I thought no, he's not going anywhere. I raised my rifle and finished the job that I started out to do with the first shot. I was so happy at this point I couldn't contain myself thinking how my father was going to feel. Now comes the good part, what to do next. I've watched my father and even helped a few times but wasn't keen on the idea of field dressing the deer out myself alone. As I said it was my first, what did I know of doing it the right way.
I thought no, I need help so I started to drag him back towards the car without doing it, sound familiar? Well, this wasn't going right, even though he was not so big of a deer of around 110 lb's, the weight just seemed to grow with every 50 yards or so and after about an hour's dragging I just couldn't go it anymore. I knew I had to reduce this weight. So, out comes my hunting knife and I proceeded to do the task. After the short feeling ill stage and after I was done and what a mess I had, I wiped my hands with some of the ground leaves and putting all my stuff back in my back pack I started again. Uphill was a task in itself but I managed to make it back to the car and after loading him onto the car and making sure he was tied on real good I proceeded home. Upon arriving home I hung him up in the old maple tree in the yard and couldn't wait for my father to get home from work to see his eyes as I was so proud of this, my first deer.
Although I do not have a picture of this, my first deer, I used the picture of my father's buck that he was so proud of.