The last deer hunting story I posted got so much attention that I nearly had a heart attack. Since it was so well received, I decided to post the story of the first deer I ever shot. I was fortunate enough to see this story published in the “readers stories” section of the July 2014 issue of “Alberta Outdoorsman”. Some of you may recall that this marks the second time I have seen my writing in legitimate print, something that I hope to see again someday. Without further delay, here’s the story of my first deer.
I have been around guns and hunting for about as far back as I can remember and I’m seldom known for forgetting. That being said the first time I actually went deer hunting was when I was 14 and just out of hunters training. It was all of three sparse days where in I saw two mule deer dos and got rather cold. It seemed after that, that my hunting career had come to an abrupt and uneventful end. I did not hunt for many years after that, I did however, field dress and butcher many deer in that time with my step father. At the time it was just for the sake of being helpful, I thought. In the end however, I feel it was a good skill to gain that will help me a great deal in life and it might sound strange to a non hunter but I do intend to pass these skill on to my children someday.
My second year of university I found myself working at an outdoors store, it was an easy step to make as I had already been exposed to the outdoor world as I mentioned earlier. In this time I found myself more and more tempted to try hunting again. It was at this time that a beautiful gun came through the shop, an older and, somewhat, abused Ruger M77 International in .243 Winchester. I immediately fell in love with this old gun. It had on a beautiful and well worn in wooden mannlicher stock and an older weaver 4X scope. For what seemed like a better portion of an arm and a leg at the time it was mine and I was happy to have it. I brought it to the farm and we sighted it in with some 80 grain soft point and away I went to my good buddy Troy’s house for some fun. Troy didn’t seem to mind the idea of me coming hunting on his land I figure it’s because he’s a nice guy and he’s usually only after moose, they have more meat. On this particular hunt we were joined by a lovely lady Troy had been seeing at the time, whom I haven’t spoken to in many years, so let’s leave names out of it shall we. She had in her possession a moose tag that she had hoped to use along with her normal deer tags. We began our day on the quads, me naturally being overly protective of my possessions opted to put my rifle in a hard case and strap it to the quad rack. In my youth I was open to many things but as I have gotten older I’ve grown more opposed to things like hunting from an ATV, at the time it seemed the way to do it, now it seems like cheating. At any rate we drove the back country trails me on my quad and the others sharing another, after a sightless morning we came to the house for some lunch where I realized that there’s no point in hauling around my rifle because I wouldn’t get it out in time to make the shot anyway. So we opted to all just kind of share the one gun of Troy’s. It was perfect for the job; a stainless synthetic Remington, chambered in .300 Remington Short Action Ultra Mag. Before you break out the reloading manual, yes that is a real caliber and no I don’t know anyone else who has one.
That afternoon we resumed scouting via the ATVs until finally we came around a corner and there was a beautiful buck just standing there on top of the hill. Troy looked, so did his companion and they asked “Tyson, you want him?” “Yes, yes I do” Troy handed me the rifle and I took aim and paused for a moment as I calmed and realized that it really a faux pas to shoot a sky lined animal even that far out in the middle of nowhere, the deer looked at me, looked away, looked at me, and walked casually into the bush. I looked back at the group with what I am sure was a sad face and he pointed and said “there’s another cutline farther down” I was off! I didn’t know I could run that fast, especially with a rifle. Sure enough there was that same buck standing in a clearing with a nice broad hill behind him, I felt good about this. I brought myself down to one knee took aim and yanked on the trigger the whole gun lunged forward off of my shoulder and did not go off, I looked at the safety still in the on position and re-evaluated a better part of my life and in that second I was about as disappointed in myself as I ever hope to be. I took a deep breath flipped the safety off steadied the rifle with the crosshairs just behind the shoulder and gently squeezed the trigger this time I was solid like a rock. With a thunderous crack that Remington let out everything it had and that buck fell down just as fast as it possibly could. In the distance I hear “Did you get him?!” to which I rebutted smugly “YOU EVER KNOW ME TO MISS?” I opted not to tell them about my first attempt at firing that gun. We then took a few pictures and they went off to get a truck to haul out the deer while I stayed with it and took a moment to sit there proud of myself and then began to field dress it. While field dressing I had noticed that my stead aiming behind the shoulder had landed me a perfect neck shot, I somehow was a foot and a half out on a sixty yard shot and managed to get perfect placement, again I would fail to mention my intended trajectory for the bullet to my companions.
Eventually I got tired of waiting for the truck. I brought out the winch line on the quad and found an old t shirt under the seat I wrapped the shirt around the deer’s neck and the winch around the shirt and began to slowly drive in reverse dragging my trophy toward the house. I eventually found the holdup. The truck, in its haste, had found its way off the trail and become hung up on the edge of the path, luckily no damage but the pilot had to go back for a tractor to get the truck out. In hind sight this tractor coming to get the truck that was coming to get the deer was starting to remind me of an old nursery rhyme. The truck came right out and then we remembered there is a perfectly good trailer for pulling behind the quad, we grabbed that, loaded the deer, and hauled it back to the house. By this time I had learned a few valuable lessons about planning and preparedness little did I know I wasn’t quite done learning that lesson on that day.
The next snag in my plan was that I drove a rather boat like Pontiac at the time, a car not known for its deer hauling capacity, though I’m sure if I didn’t like the seats it could be done. So I had to get it hauled to my parent’s house via Troy’s pickup truck. Between the time I shot the deer and we got it out of the bush and into my parents garage where I could skin it, about 3 hours had passed in about -15C temperatures. For those of you who have never tried to skin a cold deer it’s a lot like trying to open a Christmas present wrapped with duct tape while your hands are numb from the cold. We cut and pulled so hard we broke the deer off the hanger twice and eventually had to tie its legs to the metal spreader. We got it eventually but it was not pretty or pleasant.
All in all I got a beautiful buck that scores about 140 gross inches. I found this out later in the year when a friend of mine took me to his uncle who scores deer for a hobby… I guess. More importantly than the size of the animal was that not only did it fill my freezer it taught me some valuable lessons about being prepared, checking your equipment, and remaining calm while firing.
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