I recently bagged my first deer. Thanks to a friend of a friend who invited us out to their family ranch on the last weekend of deer season. It was quite an experience. One that I will likely never forget.
We scouted the hunting area late on Friday night and saw a good number of good game and went to bed.
Saturday morning we were in the blinds before day break. It was a cold (by Texas standards) and windy. I waited quietly and patiently for about four hours and saw no deer. I did see three turkeys, but decided against taking a shot as I’ve never hunted turkey before, knew nothing about shot placement on a turkey, and thought the Remington Core-Lokt 150 grain .30-06 pointed soft tip rounds might not be the best choice for harvesting the meat. In fact, none of our group saw or heard anything other than some turkeys. We called the morning hunt, went to lunch, and took a nap.
Saturday evening was very much the same minus the turkeys. Have to admit I was getting discouraged after hunting for close to eight hours with nothing to show for it. Dinner came and went. Sleep followed.
Sunday morning was a different story. It was a several degrees colder, but the wind was still. As day break came, I spotted a young buck and let it go. It was too young and the property owner asked us to stick to hunting doe (or spikes). A few minutes later three other deer came by – two bucks and a doe. It was on.
There was a strange mix of emotions before pulling the trigger. Exhilaration mixed with doubt. Anticipation mixed with sadness. I knew where to place the shot for a quick ethical kills, but had never done it. I was confident in my ability and equipment to place a shot in the right place at that distance (about 100 yards), but it was cold and my adrenaline was pumping. The scope was a little shaky and was rising and falling a bit more than I would have liked. I was also starting to process the fact that I was a short trigger pull away from taking the life of an animal. Sure it would feed me and my family, but I was about to end it’s life nonetheless.
I steadied my breathing. Clicked off the safety. Pulled the trigger and watched the deer start running. For a split second I thought something went wrong with the shot. But that faded as I watched the deer drop about 20 yards to the left of where I took the shot and lay still. The mixture of feelings continued to pour in and it took some time to finish processing them. Bottom line – I’m will hunt again.
Turned out what I though was a doe was another young buck. The antlers were the same size as it’s ears and hidden behind them. Had I had a better scope, I may have been able to tell the difference. The shot placement was perfect. Right behind the front left shoulder through the heart and out behind the right front shoulder. No wasted meat.
Lessons learned in no particular order:
- An expensive rifle isn’t required to hunt – this hunt was done with rifle purchased for under $300 (including a low end scope)
- Practicing at the range with the rifle and ammunition one will use is paramount to knowing one’s ability (and limits) with the selected equipment
- Good glass is important – I’m fairly certain better glass would have helped me identify the gender of the deer correctly before taking the shot
- Temperament is essential – the emotions I experienced were similar to those described to me by other hunters, but there was a huge difference between expecting them before experiencing them and the actual experience
Good hunting to all current and future hunters out there. Remember to be safe (and legal) out there.