I wanted to write about my first kill hunting experience. I feel that this moment in any hunters’ life is monumental, as it will help them determine if they will continue on the path of a nature preserver and hunter.
I was 15, it was December 1999 and the last day of the season. I went out with my dad after school and we snuck into what we call the “Carr/Miller” woods. We sat on a fallen tree, there was no snow on the ground, but there was still that early winter chill in the air. The wind was light and you could see behind us to the road, and all throughout the woods. It was quiet besides the normal squirrels and birds. In the beginning there were no deer in site. Since I came out about 3pm we had limited time until sundown; roughly 2 hours. So it would be a short sit no whether a deer had crossed our paths or not.
With the clear sky and open woods we waited until about 4:30, pushing the limits of sundown, the deer finally came through their path along a tiny brook through the woods. We waited. Mostly does and fawns were traveling in this pack but there were still 150 yards away and I would have loved to see a beautiful buck.
As the light was starting to fade my dad and I realized that there probably wasn’t a buck coming our way. So we watched each of the does carefully and picked out the largest in the pack. I pulled the deer up in my scope site and lined up my shot. Waiting for it to pause, a full breathe in and a half breathe out as I was taught, I pulled the trigger.
I fell off the log. Literally, fell backwards off the log. At 15 I weight under 90 pounds, a stick girl who was 5’6 and still growing. I still had my father’s 12 gauge shot gun in my hand; which was a slight miracle. I also had a bloody knot in between my eyes. I sat up, looked at my dad, and he told me I got her. We went for the 60 yard walk to find her lying down, with a single shot through her neck, which is how I would kill my next 4 deer as well. I was so proud, my first deer. A beautiful doe.
My dad cleaned her in the woods and my uncle pulled up the trail drive from the road to help drag, load and hang her in our garage.
That was my first of many deer to come and many meaningful hunting experiences. I don’t have a photo because at that time we didn’t have cell phones, or we did on the farm but I didn’t have one. Selfies weren’t a thing at that time either. My dad may have one photo from that night but it will be in an album somewhere at my parents’ house. Each hunting experience from then on I have memories of, fond or not. My first buck, a few more does, anxious shots and a big monster on a snowy day.
The deer we shoot are food for our families. My daughter who will be 3 this season loves to eat venison and is always with me and my parents when I go hunting. The cleanings and skins are used for coyote bait to help us track the vermin. Every part of the animal is used in some beneficial way.
We only take what we need to help keep our population and farm crops at a steady healthy level. For a buck it must be older than 2.5 years, wider than the ears and mighty tall. 8 points or higher is our goal or a 6pt is acceptable if the girth of the rack is appropriate for an older age. For does they must be of bigger mass and older bodies. We don’t shoot every deer we see and we only take what our tags allow. There have been some animals we have been tracking for over 4 years now, hoping they survive from winter to winter; one animal being a piebald doe that we will never kill. Our farm is our sanctuary, a small wildlife preserve of deer, turkey, pheasants, and other creatures. We strive to maintain an ecological balance between the farm life and the woods and hope that this working of ours will be shared with our neighbor hunters and sportsman.