It was cold! Unlike today’s winters where you can have a 70 degree december day, it was late November and so cold that the bare earth crunched under your feet as my dad walked with me on my first ever deer hunt. I had been hunting before with him for rabbit, squirrel, and pheasant ever since I was old enough to keep up through the brush, but was my hunt.
The ambush site was a corner of the neighbor’s farm where two fence lines converged below an old abandoned stock pond. In the corner below the pond was a thick stand of young ash saplings that had been torn up by rutting bucks. The pond’s embankment was overgrown with honeysuckle and briars, making it the perfect natural blind. Above the pond were several cut cornfields that the deer were feeding in overnight. The plan was to intercept these deer on their way back to bed from the fields.
The sunrise was a welcome sight as I can still remember the numbness in my fingers and the chill on my face. Along with the relief, my dad pointed out seven does following one of the fence lines towards the corner. He asked “Can you make that shot?” It was about 70 yards and using his open sight 30-30, I told him “I don’t know.” The decision was made for me as they continued down the fence line out of sight before I could pull the trigger.
Only a few minutes later, another deer came down to the pond behind us. This was a surprise and a little bit of an issue because it was essentially in the blind with us. The only thing that separated the deer from us was about 40 yards of frozen water. I turned slowly and my dad whispered “Take your time and squeeze.” I was so excited that it was tough holding the rifle steady. But when the deer turned broad side I fired! The deer just stood there, staring at us. After only a few seconds but what seemed liked hours the deer turned and started to sneak towards the thicket. When he got to the fence line and was about to jump it, I will never forget hearing my father saying “Well, I guess you didn’t get that one.” Then BOOM! I shot a second time as the deer jumped the fence. The deer fell on the other side. The shot surprised my dad and the look on his face was priceless. As we approached the deer we soon realized that what we thought was a doe was actually a 1 1/2 year old buck that had its antlers broken off at the hairline. It was big hugs and big grins all around as we celebrated my initiation into a way of life. This day remains high on my list of the best days of my life. The time spent with my dad means a lot to me and while telling this story I had a chance to relive those moments. It was almost as if I was on that farm again nearly 20 years ago.