Looking at him under the tree I paused as a moment of sadness came over me. I had ended a life, but the end to his means that it will sustain others through the meat he will provide. And he has gone on to feed many people and many families.
The first time for anything is something that remains an indelible memory for you. Whether it’s watching your first child’s step, attending your first George Straight concert, or first paycheck earned, you never forget it. The same goes for getting your first deer. I was blessed enough this 20 October 2014 to get my first deer. Not only was it my first deer, it was a beautiful 7 point buck. Aside from it being my first deer, a lot of other firsts went into it. That day it was my first time in a tree stand, my first time hunting that area, and my first time shooting at a deer ever. All those firsts almost didn’t even occur…
I had arrived early to take a few practice shots at Steve’s house. The first shot I took my string snapped off my PSE Fever. I was devastated! Both Steve and I didn’t have a clue about what had happened, he had watched my form while shooting and didn’t see any reason why the string would have snapped. The knot in my stomach was palpable-but thank God Steve has a bow shop and was able to restring my Fever in no time. After a some sight adjustments and a few more shots, we were both confident and I was ready to go.
Climbing up into the tree stand my hopes were high that I would get a doe. I didn’t think I would even see a buck that day. At 1826 a doe and a her yearling crossed the creek to my left and ran into the meadow that I overlooked. That doe looked directly at me, then ran off. “Great” I thought to myself, “I still smell too much like a girl” (I had problems with this the last few days I spent hunting). I knew the deer were active, I could hear them moving in the thicket, but nothing was coming my way. Daylight may have been dimming but my patience was not. Around 1832 three does and another yearling came from behind my stand to the right. They fed in front me. I moved very slowly, getting my bow ready. Something made me hesitant to pull back and shoot. I paused, and movement caught my eye. Out of the thicket came a snorting buck. With every step he took closer to me, my heart stepped up it’s pace.
Then instinct took over. My eyesight became better, I focused in on the buck’s kill zone. My breathing steadied, and movements were swift and agile. I released my breath and the arrow in sync, and I heard my arrow stop as the deer in the meadow scattered.
Whatever calm focus I had garnered while shooting the buck went out the window. My heart felt like it was going to beat right out of my chest. My hands shook so bad I couldn’t grasp anything. And, of course, all of this was coupled by one of the biggest grins of my life. Smiling and shaking, shaking and smiling. Never have I been so happy sitting alone in the dark in the woods in the cold.
As my heartbeat slowed the doubt crept in. Did I really shoot him? I thought so, since I heard a panting sound consistently coming from the thicket that was getting quieter and weaker with each passing minute. But still, I couldn’t see my arrow anywhere, and being a novice hunter, I couldn’t yet wrap my mind that the first deer I ever killed was a buck with my bow.
Thirty minutes later Steve appeared ready to help track the buck. We still found no arrow and only a faint splatter of blood. Over the next forty minutes or so we traced everything from the tiniest droplet of blood to the good splatters through the thicket, often on our hands and knees trying to find the right path. It was like solving a puzzle, using our senses to figure out what direction he went. Finally we found him. He had rounded the thicket and was headed back to the creek. He was bedded under a tree. The minute I saw him my heart picked up again as I ran to check him out. I had shot him right in the heart.
My excitement over getting a buck was not waning, if anything it was growing with each moment. I mean, it was the first shot I ever took at a deer in my life, and I got a buck. I’m proud, happy, excited, and incredibly grateful. Out of all the firsts I’ve had in my life so far, this is by far one of the bests. I’ll never forget it, down to the smallest details, because the clarity of this memory is made better every time I recount the story.