My First Buck

by Sharon
(Burlington, NC, US)

Today is the second day of rifle hunting season and my second deer hunt ever (I am 59 years old). I climbed out of the bed with anticipation. I just know it's going to happen today. After sitting in the tree-stand all day yesterday, and not seeing any deer, we have to have better luck today.

My husband, Bill (an experienced hunter), was already up and watching TV in the den. I asked him what the temperature was. "28 degrees," he said, "You better bundle up good, it's only going to get up to 39 today". I said, "God, I'm going to freeze to death before I ever see a deer. What self-respecting deer is out in this cold?"

When I asked him if he wanted breakfast, he said we would get some at the convenience store down the road. Then he told me to check my gear and make sure I had everything I would need for the whole day. I checked my Marlin Model 336, 35 caliber to make sure that it was ready and had plenty of ammo. It was 4:30 a.m.

We finally got to our tree stands near the gasline at the back of our property. We have 40 acres of woods bordered by the Haw River near Burlington, NC. It was still dark so we used our red LED flashlight to see to get the gear out of the Blazer. We sprayed each other with dirt scented spray and also two rags tied to long strings to drag behind us. Then we walked about half a mile to the tree stands on each side of the gasline. Mine was about 125 yards from the river and 20 yards from the gasline.

By the time I got into the ladder stand, the sky was showing a little pink in the east. I could see now to pull up my rife and backpack which included some much needed coffee. As the sky got lighter, I could see the river through the trees. About 40 yards in front of me was a corn pile that we started putting out a couple of weeks ago. It looked like something had been really tearing it up. Probably the cotton-picking turkeys that we saw yesterday. Too bad it's not spring or I would have been plucking turkey feathers and showing off a nice beard!!

About 8:30 in the morning, I saw a buck step out of the heavy brush close to the river. I had just poured me a cup of coffee from the Thermos, and I had to freeze. I didn't want any movement to scare him. There was an umbrella above the stand and a skirt around it attached to the gun rail, so I knew I could slowly set my coffee down on the foot platform without being seen if I was careful.

I reached for my rifle that was laying across my lap and, inch by inch, started to raise it a little. The buck was walking straight to the corn pile in front of me without even looking around. I watched him come closer to the corn and got a real good look at him. He was kinda small, about 3 years old and his rack was a spike on one side and 3 points on the other. Yuck, he was ugly! Now I am debating whether to shoot him or not. I had watched tons of hunting DVDs and remembered that sometimes the hunters shot deer like that to get them out of the breeding pool so the bigger and healthier bucks could to the breeding. I still did not want that ugly deer to be my first rack!

I knew I didn't have much time to make up my mind. He was at the corn pile and started eating. My heart was pounding so loud that I thought surely he would hear it and run for the woods and make my decision for me. I saw him quarter away from me a little and gave me a perfect shot. So, I slowly raised my rifle and sighted him in. That was not easy since I was shaking so much.

He stepped behind a tree where he couldn't see me and I waited for him to take two more steps so I could get a clear shot. I put the rifle tight against my shoulder and took a deep breath and held it. He stepped out and looked at something on the gasline. I gently squeezed the trigger. A loud boom exploded in my ears and my whole body. I looked down to see my deer and he was hobbling over a fallen tree and fell 10 feet from where I shot him. The bullet entered right behind the shoulder and went through the shoulder on the other side.

I watched for 15 minutes to make sure he was down and saw my husband come walking over from his stand. He was grinning from ear to ear! He said he saw me shoot the buck and saw him go down. "Hey Buck-slayer!!," he said. "Come down and let's go see your first buck!"

I climbed out of the stand with the shakiest legs that I have ever had in my life. As soon as I hit the ground, I cocked another bullet into the chamber and walked over to where he was standing. The deer was not far away so we found him easily. As soon as Bill saw the mess on the buck's head, he burst out laughing. "Well, he ain't much of a buck," I said, "but he's MY buck!!".

And I made him take my picture with it just like it had been the most beautiful 8-point in the woods. He told me that he was proud of me for shooting the poor thing even though I could have waited for something better. Even the processor told me later that night that the buck should have been taken out. He also told me that I made an absolutely perfect shot; heart, lungs, and liver.

I kept that rack and still to this day don't regret shooting my "Management Buck"!!!

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