The Bronco Buck
Everyone has a first deer story, or a funny deer story, but I have a first deer and funny story together. It did not end up being MY first deer, but it was the first deer I was involved with.
It was my first year hunting deer. A few years earlier, I had been given a single shot H&R .20 gauge as my first gun. Some squirrels and rabbits had fallen prey to that gun, but now was the time to test it on big game. So, at 13 years old, my father took me on my first deer hunt. The plan would be the same as it would be for most dads taking their sons on their first deer hunt. If possible, I would get the first shot.
It was opening morning, and we set up in a small grove of elm trees in the middle of a very large field. My father and I were a few feet apart behind seperate trees. I was full of nervous excitement as day broke over the land, watching random wildlife start it's day. About an hour into our hunt, we heard a commotion coming from the ridge just above the field. Seconds later, a big snowshoe rabbit came darting into the field and continued to the other side. My father motioned for me to pay attention, and I eagerly awaited whatever would come out next.
A few anxious moments passed when a nice 5 point trotted out and stopped, conveniently broadside, at about 25 yards away. I tried to get a glimpse of the buck, standing there in the wide open, but for some reason, could not see anything but head and tail. I don't know if it was that I was afraid to move, for fear of scaring the deer, or what it was, but I told my Dad I couldn't see it. He mouthed the words "shoot" to me, and I again said "You go ahead, I can't." I can imagine that this was hard for my father to do, as a dad's dream is to be with his child when they harvest their first animal, but it was looking like it wasn't going to happen. And, considering the success rate in Vermont at the time was around 15%, you don't want to risk the deer getting away, since there is no guarantee you will see another during the season. Reluctantly, my father took the shot. The deer trotted just off the edge of the field, it's head and tail down.
Now, my father, to this point, had never had to shoot a deer more than once. Well, this deer was shot a little further back in the liver, but as we approached it, we saw him laying down, but lift his head, not being able to do any more. My father put a shot into his neck, and the eyes glazed over, head falling to the ground. Dead deer!
Dad and I did our hugs, and my father placed his gun against a tree, and got out his knife as I stood by to watch/learn about field dressing. Well, my father took hold of one horn, and sunk his knife into the deer's neck. All of a sudden, that buck jumped up, with my father now grabbing both horns and holding on for dear life! The buck was spinning around as my dad tried to hold his head to the ground. I am wondering if I should try to shoot it, and my dad is yelling at me to hand him his gun. Finally, coming to my sense, I was able to give it to him and he was able to put one more in the back of the deer's head, this time finishing it for good. It took a few more sticks and pokes before we decided it was safe to approach it again, even knowing it was dead this time for sure.
We still talk about it to this day. My father was sad that I was unable to shoot my first deer that year, but we ended up with a great story, and some great venison. Thinking about it now, I would not have changed a thing.