First Deer, a Happy Thanksgiving and a Broken Nose
Well, the year was 1992, and I had been hunting for 7 or 8 years without having yet shot a deer. I was away at college, and was able to return to Vermont for the week of Thanksgiving. This would allow me to hunt the second week of the season. My father had been telling me about a new place that he had received permission to hunt on. It was a nice little patch of woods, maybe only 80 acres or so. The woods were surrounded by corn and hay fields, and there was an overgrown orchard, plus some thicker cedars on the property. It had everything you needed for a good deer location, it was just smaller than most would like.
Well, I flew in late Friday evening, anxious to get out first thing Saturday. Driving home, my father said he need to get something from a garage of a house just down from ours before we went to the house. As he pulled up to the garage and opened the door, in the headlights was a beautiful 8 point hanging from the rafters. I guess the new place was already paying off, as my father had shot the deer a couple of days prior. So, I guess it was just going to be me hunting that week, as you are only allowed one deer during rifle season in Vermont. The next morning, my father walked me to the spot where he had set up his ground blind and shot his deer from. It basically was a large rock, with a tree that you sat up against on the ground. He had stacked a few sticks and logs around the base to break up the pattern.
The first part of the week was rather uneventful. I just saw a doe or 2, but other than that, I was just nature watching. I got up Thanksgiving morning, not sure if I wanted to go out or sit home and enjoy the day. Figuring I don't get too much time to hunt, I headed to the woods. I should say that the main trail that the deer were taking was off to my left, which is also where my father had stacked the majority of the cover for the blind. The right side was lightly traveled, and my father didn't put much protection there. Well, about an hour into shooting light, I was watching the trail to the left, when I heard a twig snap to the right. I slowly turned my head and there, only 15 yards away and at eye level, a spike had walked out of the cedars and was casually walking past me. Now, being that I was on the ground, and the deer was only a few yards away, I was afraid to make too sudden of a movement. Therefore, I just simply slid my Marlin 30-30 lever action up into a left handed shooting position.
Now, in Vermont, a legal buck at the time had to have at least one horn 3 inches or longer. This spike had both horns right around 3 inches, but it was too close to call. As he walked by, I kept my scope on his head, hoping that the horns would suddenly grow an inch. Finally, as he was about to walk out of sight, I decided, rather depressingly, that I was not going to shoot this deer. I felt that sinking feeling in my gut, but no sooner had I decided to let it walk, then I heard another deer where the spike had come from. I slowly turned again, and I saw the best sight of my life. A nice 6 point rack on a buck walking out of the cedars. I moved into position, left handed, and took aim as the deer followed the same path as the first. As he got to an opening, I fired. The deer dropped immediately and was just kicking on the ground. I jumped up, and afraid that he would get up and run, shot him in the neck. It turns out I didn't need to, as I found out when cleaning him that I had totally separated the heart from every artery with the first shot.
I started to walk over to the deer, with the adrenalin flowing. As I took a few steps (It was only an 11 yard shot), I felt something running down my nose. I reached up, and saw that it was a small amount of blood. Then, as the adrenalin was wearing off, my nose started to ache. I then realized, that never having practiced shooting left handed, I must have gotten a little close to the scope, and got hit by the recoil. I gave my nose a good squeeze, and felt the crackling inside. If you look closely at the photo, you can even see the wonderful black and blue already settling around the bridge of my nose.
I ended up dressing and dragging the deer by myself, and had some generous hunters help me load it onto the car. I got home, and surprised my parents with a great Thanksgiving treat. Mom was tearing up, and Dad was probably pretty close too. It was a great memory, one of the reasons I hunt, and I think the broken nose was even worth it.