Patience - First Deer Hunt

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I did not begin my hunting career until I was 30 years old. I became a father that year and the hunter-gatherer instinct took hold. My first gun was a 10/.22; the only thing I had ever shot besides a BB gun. When it came time for big game hunting I borrowed a 7mm Rem. Mag. from my neighbor after promising to take his 15 year-old son with me. I did my homework over the summer scouting numerous times to commit the landscape and deer sign to memory.

Opening day dawned, barely, amid a cold fog and hazy overcast sky. After spending 2 1/2 hrs. glassing from a ridge the urge to evacuate my bladder overcame my ability to concentrate on finding animal shapes in the adjacent draw. I moved quietly to a tree some 100 yds away and took care of business. When I finished I decided to move up the ridge to a spot I had looked over in previous visits to the area. As I settled down on the rock I heard a barrage of gunfire from the next canyon. Shortly after I saw a line of four muley does filing down the adjacent ridge and into the draw just below me. As I looked to a spot in the dense brush where I thought they might hide I noticed a branch moving. Closer inspection revealed it to be not a branch, but a thick set of antlers! At the notion that I might fill my tag with a trophy buck on the very first day of big game hunting in my life I began to shake like I was having a seizure. I was conscious of the possibility of "Buck Fever", but I never thought it would happen to me. As I fumbled with my binoculars in the confusion I wasted precious time in bringing up the gun. By the time the gun made it to my shoulder I was shaking so badly that I couldn't have found that buck in the scope if he was 50 yds away, much less 150 yds away. In my clumsiness I allowed the deer to spot me and off they ran. I was fully disappointed, but also exhilarated and! completely hooked on the pursuit of big game.

Throughout the rest of the week we spotted many deer. One morning we took a stand on an out-cropping of rocks on a plateau covered with shallow, brush-choked draws. I was feeling particularly determined and very restless, so I motioned to the kid to stay put and watch for anything I might drive out. Within the first few steps in the meadow a 3x3 buck stood broadside to me at 30 yds. I immediately brought the gun to my shoulder and rested the cross-hairs on a fuzzy brown spot. I couldn't see anything at all, so I lowered the gun in time to see the buck bound off through the tangle of draws. The scope had been set at 9x when I was glassing from up high expecting a long shot. I immediately realized my mistake and took off running after the buck to try for an interception as he crossed the next meadow. When I caught a glimpse of his direction I settled the scope on the edge of the clearing and waited for him to appear. BOOM! One shot rang out and the deer went down and into the trees. A very startled 15 yr-old emerged to find me pumping my fist and explaining the shot. We quickly made for the edge of the forest where I had last seen the buck. As we approached the point where I had shot the deer another gunshot broke the silence. My heart sank. I knew that my deer was gone. We continued to track the buck to his final resting place only 300 yds further where he had been gut-shot by another hunter. As I congratulated him I wearily inspected the animal to find a single bullet hole through his neck from my shot. I told the hunter that it would have killed me to know that I had wounded an animal, so i was glad that someone got him. The hunter then struggled to concoct a story about how he had shot the buck twice, using two different bullets (you know, to save money). I was disappointed, but not about to argue over a ruined animal. As we made our way back to camp my companion told me that he, too heard only one shot besides mine.

The season ended without a successful harvest, but I learned a lot and I am glad that I have taken up the hunt. I saw many animals, from fox and coyote, to mule deer and bighorn sheep, and I was accompanied for an entire morning by a grey owl. These memories will be with me always.


The driveway makes a secure hangout to get through hunting season!

Comments

ManOfTheFall's picture

Good story. Keep at it, your

Good story. Keep at it, your day will come.

numbnutz's picture

Great story. not evry season

Great story. not evry season is sucessful.