First, I just wanted to say hello and acknowledge that Ive been hanging around here for the last several weeks, trying to gain as much knowledge as I can. Not unlike a few Ive seen in this forum, I am as green as they come to hunting. That said, I am totally HOOKED!!! And when Im passionate about something, I will study it to no end in an attempt to become the best I can be.
Ill start off by giving a little background. I was born and raised and currently reside in Virginia Beach, Va. I grew up with a fishing pole in my hand and generally loved the outdoors. A tradition that my grandfather started and thankfully my father carried on was charter fishing locally. Some of my earliest memories include flounder fishing on the Eastern Shore. As I grew and my passion for fishing evolved, we began chasing bigger game off the coast of Virginia and North Carolina, catching the offshore species that migrate up the eastern seaboard. I didnt think there was anything cooler on the planet than firing up the diesels and making the 2 hour trip to the continental shelf, observing all the sea life, all while catching powerful and delicious dolphin (fish), tuna and the occasional wahoo. That was until I caught my first billfish. After that, forget about it, I was all in!
Fortunate I was, my old man would charter boats 3 and 4 times a summer over the years, often with the same captains. Im sure there were a few first mates that I annoyed because I was basically their shadow. I wanted to know everything, from tying knots to rigging baits, leadering and gaffing fish... you name it. Luckily though, most of the mates enjoyed teaching me and before I knew it I was getting invited to tag along on weekends, all I had to do was help clean the boat... DONE!
Well fast forward many years later and I naturally found myself running the cockpit of a charter boat. The idea that people were gonna pay me to do this was laughable to me because I would have done it for free. Well, over the next 13 years my job took me to places Id only dreamt of fishing. The Bahamas, Mexico, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Hawaii... I was the richest young man in the world! Ive since obtained my captains license and continue to fish to this day. God has truly blessed me.
Now Im a 35 year old man with a wife and three boys. My traveling days are over. So in the offseason months I often found myself looking for something to do. A couple years ago I took a trip to the eastern shore with a buddy and he handed me a shotgun and some camo and sent me up a tree. What the hell, I had nothing better to do. That evening I saw a doe a couple hundred yards away for just a brief second, then she disappeared. Shortly thereafter, it got dark and we went back to the house. Nothing too exciting, but I enjoyed being in the woods and that was the closest I had ever been to a deer so it was a pretty cool experience. We went the next morning and I saw nothing but again, it was just nice being there. We came back to the beach and I really never put too much thought into it again, until another buddy called me up a couple weeks later and asked if I wanted to go back to the same property. I obliged.
That evening, I climbed into the gear he had provided for me and he then did something that kind of caught me off guard. He started hosing me down with a spray bottle like I was on fire! When I asked him what the hell he was doing, he exclaimed 'deer can smell anything, this stuff covers up any unnatural scent.'. Ok man, whatever you say. Anyway, we grabbed our weapons and we were off. I climbed the stand I had hunted just weeks prior and he was off down the trail to another stand.
For the next couple of hours I think I heard every squirrel in the woods. I just knew every one of them was going to turn out to be a deer. Not so. By the time I had come to the conclusion that I was never going to see a deer, I heard footsteps that sounded just a bit different. I slowly turned to my left and sure enough, here comes a doe coming pretty much right at me. I got the gun into position to where I thought our paths were going to cross and clicked the safety off. It felt like an eternity for that deer to get to me but Im sure it wasnt all that long. I remember thinking I thought Id be nervous if and when I got this opportunity, but I really was cool as a cucumber (a decade plus of marlin fishing will teach you how to manage nerves). When she finally got close enough where I was confident taking the shot, I squeezed the trigger. POW!!!! That doe dropped like a bag of potatoes, perfect heart/lung shot. Then the funniest thing happened. I started shaking like a bag of mexican jumping beans. I crack up just thinking about it, man. It was uncontrollable, and I was excited as hell!
That was it, I was HOOKED! Dressing the deer was not my favorite thing in the world but not anything I couldnt get past. People say, 'How many fish have you cleaned? Same difference, right?'. Im here to tell you, it's not quite the same. Anyway, after taking the deer, field dressing it then getting it back to the beach and cleaning it over a couple beers with my buddy (who also shot a doe), I realized I was familiar with the feeling I was experiencing. It's the same feeling I had when I first started offshore fishing (Now dont get me wrong, I still enjoy what I do. But naturally if you do something day in and day out for a decade, it loses some of its glory). Anyway, Im sure you all know the feeling well. Unfortunately I didnt get the chance to hunt last year because I had a very pregnant wife. However, this past Thanksgiving I hunted with my father-in-law and shot my first buck. Not a big deer, just a 2 1/2 year old four point, but after that Im ready to spend every last dollar on all things hunting. Im ate up with it.
Which brings me to the whole point of writing all of this. As I said before, when Im passionate about something I naturally want to know all there is to know about it. I know nothing beats experience and I hope to get my share in the coming years. But Id like to pick some brains around here because Ive read enough on this forum to know there is knowledge to be obtained, and Im hoping there are some folks that will be just as patient with me as many of those first mates were when I was a young buck.
Obviously, Ive just started to collect all the essential gear needed. I still do not own a gun because I want to be sure I make the right decision for me. My father-in-law has been gracious enough to lend me his Remington 1100 12 ga. and I really feel very comfortable shooting it. Thing is, Im right handed but shoot lefty. That said, I havent had any problems with the ejected shells or gunpowder. Id really like to hear some advice on a potential gun for myself. I see myself hunting deer mostly but I do have friends who bird hunt that Id like to eventually join. What is a good all around gun and should I worry about buying a left handed shotgun?
I cant tell you how many youtube videos Ive watched trying to figure out which deer call to buy. And just reading through these forums Ive come to the conclusion that its a matter of personal preference, although there are a couple names that tend to pop up frequently. Im dying to get one and get started on learning all the different calls. Ive enjoyed learning about the rut and cannot wait to experience that next year. It takes everything in me not to go buy everything off the shelves off the local Bass Pro Shops.
Anyway, my apologies for the length of this post. If youve made it this far, I appreciate you hanging in there. Depending on the response I get, Id love to ask more questions. Im heading out to Farmville, Va. early next week for three days to give it another go. I will certainly be back to hopefully tell an amazing story. I promise Ill keep it under 1000 words though. Thanks for listening and happy hunting.