Thanks to a coworker and good friend I was lucky enough to go on my very first deer hunt. At the time I climbed into my first stand I was a ripe 52 and had only shot the borrowed rifle at a local range once before. But thanks to the incredible kindness of the two guys who set me up in the 'sweet spot' on opening day, my first pull of the trigger translated into meat in the freezer!
To say I was instantly hooked would be an understatement. But I also became instantly aware of just how much I didn't know. I really do appreciate the fact that these two hunters were willing to take a chance with an old dude like me. I love working with the Boy Scouts and introducing then to the great outdoors but had never been hunting for anything other than dove, and that was back on the 70's.
A month later I realized just how fortunate I was to get that big doe on opening day. Later, with only three days left in the season I had one last chance. The guys dropped me off on a road and told me the general direction to hike to find the blind. I take off and immediately, as soon as the sound of the truck fades away... I realize I am lost. Fortunately I do know how to backtrack. I made my way back to the road, settled down and headed out again. This time I managed to pick out the trail and made my way to the ground blind about 300 yards away.
Well, at least I wouldn't have to climb up in the dark this time. But, how the hell do I get into this thing? I finally put fingers on the zipper and made my way inside. Nice! There is a chair, sitting on a wood platform, sweet!
This time out I didn't have the luxury of the borrowed rifle I had used of opening day, a tack driving Browning .243 sporting Leupold glass. This time I had to bring what I had, an as issued 1958 Romanian SKS with iron sights. Fortunately the guys decided to llend me a shooting stick, which was also a first for me. After messing with it for about 10m I finally felt I had a really good shooting platform.
The feeder was about 60yds down a rocky slope directly in front of the tent. To my left the hill cut across about half the distance at a 45 degree slope. To the right it opened up, but there was a barbed wire fence about 15yds to the right of the feeder, a potential boundary or perhaps even a property line.
I settle in and waited. After about 45m of nothing...dusk coming on..they started trickling in. At first, due to the tall grass on the sloping hill, I couldn't get a good read on the sizes or colors. Finally they began to move on to the feeder...and I saw big momma stroll into the picture! Oh yes...this is the one I was looking for, easily three...maybe four years old, nice darker color and looking super healthy.
This time I knew to anticipate my adrenaline rush and started lining up on her early. Safety off and iron sights tracking. The only problem was the other deer were blocking the shot. Waiting...waiting. She finally breaks out from the rest and rolls out behind the feeder. Now I begin to engage the creepy SK's trigger...first click made...pressure now just at the break point and the only thing standing between me and some serious freezer meat is the angle iron leg of the feeder itself. Just one more step .....just about there...and...
What I saw next took a few seconds for me to comprehend.....suddenly the deer were all blasting off like popcorn!
The feeder was chuckin' corn like crazy! Arrrrrgh! In a heartbeat they had launched over the wire fence and were gone. I couldn't believe it...and then I just felt awful.
The sun was dropping fast, the long shadows already crossing the little draw, soon my old eyes and the equally old rifle would be out of the picture. I settled back in the chair and resolved to be thankful for the one deer I had been fortunate enough to take on opening day. So there I sat for the next 20 minutes, feeling pretty much gut punched and twitchy...when much to my surprise I heard a huge 'snort' just behind the tent. Dang! That was a big critter, and close too!
A few minutes later...with the light quickly fading away..I blinked and rubbed my eyes in disbelief as deer after deer began making their way back over the fence to the feeder! I might still have a chance! After another 5 min. I realized that the really big doe, the one I called 'Big Momma', was not going to show. It was probably her that circled around and flanked me. Coming back down into the draw from the higher elevation she had caught a whiff of me in the tent.....which I had failed to zip up.
But there, at last, appeared a nice sized doe, probably 20 lbs lighter than her big sister. She made her way through the fence and began to slurp up the corn in front of the feeder. This time I was more than ready and with just enough light to make out the sights I let it fly. She scrunched and then bounded once...clearing my vantage point and disappeared behind the sloping hill on my left. I sat for a bit (as my buddies had told me to do) before crawling out and looking for her. The blood trail was easy to see..the round had passed through. I found her.about 20 yds away laying in some brush. Yay!
This was my first time to take a deer solo...and I knew the trail back was a good 300+ yards up hill through the woods. I drug her out back to the feeder and then hiked my gear back to the road so my buddies could see it. I then took the rifle sling with me back to get the deer.
I fashioned a the sling around her rear legs and started to drag her out. Man, that sure made me realize how out of shape I was. I stopped and thought, why not just carry her out on my shoulders? Sure would be faster. So as best as I could I squatted down and... grabbing the legs....rolled the deer up onto my shoulders. Standing up was not pretty...but I did! Then I began to feel my back and shirt just getting warm...with the blood that was now pouring freely out and down my entire backside. Not my best move.
Now looking like I had wrestled with zombies I reworked the rifle sling into a decent harness and drug the deer all the way back to the roadbed. By the time I got there my heart was pounding in ears. My buddies were pleasantly surprised to see everything there ready to be loaded. Seeing my blood drenched clothes they said, 'Next time try using the rifle to kill the deer, tain't near as messy'.
What a fantastic day and a great memory. I am really looking forward to next season. Now I am just trying to learn everything I can. This forum has wonderful stories and lots of information about hunting deer in Texas. I've got a lot of lost years to make up for and this place is a great resource for a new old guy like me!