Where It All Started

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How did this whole "hunting" thing ever get started in a young boy growing up in Kendrick, Idaho?  Our family moved from Seattle, WA to this little Northern Idaho community when I was only 8 years old. My dad, a minister, was not a hunter and did not own a gun.  I had never shot a gun; had never even held one, but I somehow knew I needed one. It wasn't long before I badgered my Dad into buying me my first rifle, a Daisy BB gun. Oh, how I loved that little gun!  Over the next few years, I nearly wore that little rifle out.  BB’s were five cents a packet, those little round packs that were about the size of a package of Necco candy.

Picture of me and the Daisy BB gun at 9 years old, and NO, I never did shoot my eye out!

I finally talked my Dad into buying "us" a 22.  He picked out a used Remington Targetmaster, model 510 single shot and paid a total of $10.  I tried my best to wear that little rifle out, but after tens of thousands of rounds, at 49 cents per box, that trusty 22 still shoots today.  My Dad gave it to me on my 14th birthday and I have since passed it on to my son and he to his.

I was relentless on the local squirrel population, spending several days a week stalking the pesky little ground-dwellers.  If I had a nickel for every squirrel I sent into rodent-heaven, I could easily buy myself a new over and under shotgun.  By the age of 13, I thought I was ready for bigger and better things.

I talked my Dad into taking me out deer hunting.  With no rifles in the house, he borrowed an old 8 mm Mauser from a minister friend and talked him into throwing in a few shells.  I'll never forget that first outing..... We drove out the graveled Cedar Creek road from town and stopped on a big corner with a view out over the Potlatch River and up the far hillside.  It was a misty fall morning as we looked across the valley through patches of fog.  I don't know who saw it first, but we spotted a deer about 200 yards away,  walking slowly up the hill.  With no binoculars and no scope on the rifle, we didn't know if it was a buck or doe, but in Idaho, back in 1958, any deer was legal.  I had never even shot the old Mauser to see where it hit.  Who needed practice when you have shot that old Daisy and the 22 so many times?

I raised the Mauser, looked down the open sights and fired.  My Dad said the deer went down.  We had to slide down a steep 50 foot bank, wade the river and climb up the far hillside to get to the deer.  Wow!  When we got there, the 5X5 whitetail buck was still alive but I quickly put another round into him to administer the coups de grace.  Here we were, neither one of us had ever seen a dead deer, let alone clean or take care of one.  On top of that, we didn't even own a hunting knife.  All we had was the small, yellow-handled pocket knife I carried in my Jean’s pocket.  I knew I had to "cut the throat" so it could bleed out.  That's what everyone did back then.  (an old wives tale)  With that done, I had to "cut off the scent glands", or so I thought.  (another old wives tale)  I'm sure we did more things "wrong" than right, but we finally got that animal cleaned and ready to haul home.

I'll never know how we drug that big buck down the hill, across the river and up that steep bank, but we finally got it to the car.  I do remember not closing the trunk of the 1951 Chevy so everyone could see my trophy head hanging out the back.  We took the deer to N.B. Long's Grocery in Kendrick where it was cut and wrapped and put into a rented locker space.

I somehow cut the antlers off that deer and crudely nailed them onto a plaque to hang on my wall.  For years, those antlers hung above my bed with my old Daisy BB gun slung across them.  I don’t have a clue how they were ever lost, but I’m sure that during one of our frequent moves, they got left behind.

That day and that experience are etched deeply in my mind.  It was the beginning of a lifelong love of hunting.  Over the past 53 years, I have been blessed with countless hunting friends and an unknown number of hunting stories.  Some of them are good and some are not.  But they have all contributed to the volumes of hunting memories I will carry with me forever.


numbnutz's picture

Great story, i like reading

Great story, i like reading stories like this, My first "gun" was a red rider bb gun as well, I too loved mine. I still havent told my mom about all the bb gun wars my friends and i had growing up, not too sure how i had it out of my child hood with both my eyes. My dad got me into hunting, I remeber when i was 3 or 4 my dad came home from a hunting trip and woke me up and took me to the shop outside, there was a big black bear and 2 huge bucks, I was hooked, i wanted to be just like my dad and hunt deer. ever since then I've tagged along with him till i was old enough to be on my own, now we still hunt every year, great memories.

Deer Slayer's picture

I liked that story. I can

I liked that story. I can remember when my dad bought my brother and I our first BB guns. We took out my sister's dolls and shot them full of BB's. We got our butt's beat but it sure was fun shooting those dolls. I will definitely remember the times I had with my dad in the woods and I really look forward to taking my son out when he gets a little older.

hunter25's picture

I like hearing these stories

I like hearing these stories about how people got started in their hunting lives. Especially when the family didn't hunt. Everything started great for you by having a great father. Although my dad was a hunter, some years he just did not have time for himself but he always found a way to get me out there.

My first gun was a Crossman pump pellet gun. The Daisy guns were still around but that Crossman had a lot more power.

I enjoyed your story thanks for telling it.

groovy mike's picture

you, my friend, received a miracle that day.

Holy Smokes ArrowFlipper!      


No Wonder you got hooked on hunting for a lifetime!  A 5x5 with your FIRST SHOT at big game and with a rifle you had never fired with a cartridge you were unfamiliar with. 


I don’t know if you or your dad or the pastor who loaned the rifle had the most effective prayer but one thing I do know is that you, my friend, received a miracle that day. 


What a testimony to the love your father has for you that he would acquire the BB gun, and the 22 and take you deer hunting just because it was something that YOU wanted to do and not that he was trying to pull you into a hobby that he already loved.   


Just amazing all the way around.  Great photo of that good looking, little kid with hair too!  Who is that? I’ve never seen THAT guy!  



ManOfTheFall's picture

I really enjoyed your story.

I really enjoyed your story. That must have been one heck of a day. Shooting your first buck, and a 10 point at that. Congratulations on that one. It sounded like you must have had one monumentous. Then, trying to clean that buck with your little pocket knife. I guess those were the days lol. I liked that picture, it looks like a classic.

jaybe's picture

Wow! Talk about bringing back

Wow! Talk about bringing back memories! Red Ryder lever action BB gun, 10 cents for a tube of BB's, 49 cents for a box of .22 bullets. Can you say, "Been there, done that"? Your story sounds a lot like mine, except that my dad was a hunter and so I didn't have to talk him into getting me the guns and taking me hunting. You forgot one thing about getting your eye "shot out" (I assume that was your mother's concern). My mother was always afraid that I'd shoot someone elses eye out!

Man, you were a good shot to hit that buck at 200 yards with open sights! That's what young eyes will do for you - and maybe just a speck or two of luck! I loved the part about slitting the throat and cutting out the scent glands. As if you didn't have a big enough job on your hands to field dress a deer with a pocket knife (they are notorious for being a bit dull), you had to make the job more difficult by adding those two other unnecessary tasks!

I can just picture you driving through town with the trunk open so everyone could see your prize! I well remember bringing my first deer home tied on top of my trunk, right behind the rear window. I drove several extra miles just so more people could see it!

Thanks for the nostalgic story. I'm glad that your hunting career got off to such a great start and you have such wonderful memories of it.


arrowflipper's picture

to Jaybe

The thing about not shooting my eye out was actually a play on the movie "The Christmas Story".  That was the biggest thing in the movie.... "you might shoot your eye out". 

But speaking of shooting someone else's eye out, if my mom knew about all the BB gun fights my friends and I had, she would have been a nervous wreck.  We would play cowboys and indians in the barn and actually shoot at each other.  It hurt like the dickens when you got hit and we pretty much ended our little wars when my buddie's brother did get one in the eye.  Luckily, it hit right in the corner and after it was dug out, he was fine.

As far as being a good shot, I probably was about as good as I could be with open sights, but you and I both know there was a LOT of luck involved.  I've since missed shots that far with a scoped rifle.

Yes, my old pocket knife was dull!  Back then I didn't have a clue how to sharpen a knife and since my dad wasn't a hunter, he didn't care much about sharp knives either.  I wish I still had that old pocket knife.

The little town I grew up in had a population of 425.  It seemed like everyone hunted and everyone loved to see someone else get an animal.  I was the proudest kid in the world on that day, with the head sticking out of the trunk.  I made sure the head was sticking out in such a way that everyone could see it.

By the way, when was the last time you cut a deers throat or saw someone else do it?

JackHamr''s picture

hehe pretty neat story , just

hehe pretty neat story , just a few years younger with a not to different story