|As an outdoorsman there are few things in life that remain as vivid in the memory as your first hunt.
This past fall I took my friend Andrew on his first whitetail deer hunt, down in the hill country of Texas. Looking back on it, I gained some important perspective.
We planned the hunt for the first weekend of the extended deer season. During this season, you are allowed to take does and spike bucks only.
Arriving at the ranch late Friday night, we unloaded all of our gear, and stayed up discussing the hunt as if we were on a trophy buck hunt.
With all the excitement, we finally got to sleep around 2:30 am that morning, and had the alarm set for 5:25 — making for a short cat nap.
The first morning, I headed to a stand overlooking two oat fields, while Andrew and my brother headed to a blind about 400 yards away from me.
As daylight broke, only a pair of young bucks showed themselves. I videotaped these bucks, until they fed out of sight. About an hour later, I had a group of does enter the far oat field.
They were about 175 yards away, and appeared to be heading away from me. I picked out the larger doe, and dropped her in her tracks.
After heading back to camp, I found Andrew and Steven sitting in the trailer. They had not seen anything, and when I told them I had gotten a deer, they were really excited!
We jumped in the truck, and went to pick up the doe. After several group pictures we headed to town to get the deer processed.
That afternoon, we all hunted, but didn’t see anything. Now we were getting worried. We went to camp, and had our signature dinner: rib eye steak, Doritos, and mountain dew. We were properly fueled for a long day of hunting.
After discussing the game plan, we decided that Andrew would go with me to the blind that I had taken my deer from the first morning.
The next morning, we awoke to a 23 degree outside air temperature and high winds. The wind was a bone-chilling 15 degrees. Resolved to tough it out to the end, we headed to the blind, and anxiously awaited daylight.
As it began to get light, the field was void of deer. I thought the wind might delay movement, so we sat and sat. By mid-morning, we were freezing, and had just about written off the hunt.
We decided to head back to camp. As we exited the blind I could see the disappointment on Andrew’s face.
We began walking back to camp, discussing the weekend’s hunt. As we got closer to camp, something made me look towards the field to my left. There were several deer feeding on the wheat.
From where we stood, we were exposed in the wide open. Knowing the land well, I immediately knew how we should approach these deer.
We headed back the way we had come, and inched over to the tree line. Andrew and I kept low, and crawled about 75 yards through cactus and thick brush. This was not a particularly fun thing to do, but it was the only way to stay downwind, and come out with a clean shot.
We finally popped out at the edge of the field. We were now about 200 yards away. Andrew’s face was full of excitement, as he propped his rifle up for the shot.
After Andrew got settled in, he said he was ready and a second later the shot cracked. The deer bolted, and I lost sight of it. "Yes!" he said, "I got her!"
This confused me as I had been watching another deer, and the doe he had shot dropped in her tracks. Andrew jumped up and down, and gave me a handshake.
“This is the best experience of my life!” Andrew exclaimed. We both had that unexplainable feeling that overcomes you when you are successful in the field.
The deer was recovered, and the expression on Andrew’s face said it all. We made the trip back to camp, retelling the story over and over.
Arriving back at camp we hooked up with my brother, so we could go pick Andrew’s deer up, and take pictures. The ride there was a blast, as Andrew retold the events a thousand times.
We took pictures of the doe, and headed back to camp. Several months later, Andrew has not quit talking about this hunt. Every time he mentions the experience, his eyes light up. This is what makes deer hunting so special. There is not another experience like it on this earth.
This hunt, like all of our first hunts, will be forever etched in the mind of Andrew, for years to come.
And it will be etched in my mind forever as well. Which reminds me of what Andrew taught me. When we are all sitting in the blind this season, griping about not seeing a trophy buck, just sit back and remember your first hunt — I think it will bring a smile to your face.
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