My First Buck
It was about 5:00 in the evening, and the sleet had just recently begun to transition over to snow. A thin white layer of powdery snow now blanketed the field before me. Luckily, I was stationed in David’s shooting house equipped with sliding glass windows and a portable propane heater. I was warm, dry, and comfortable. I had been in the shooting house since before dawn, with only a quick lunch break sometime around 2:00 pm. The break helped me to clear my head, because I couldn’t stop thinking about the buck that I had missed that morning.
The measly 4-point buck had wandered out of the woods around 11:00 am, and was standing about 120 yards to the left of the shooting house feeding on the field. I slowly and quietly opened the sliding glass door of the shooting house. I carefully laid the rifle on the carpeted shelf before me and pointed its barrel in the direction of the animal. This would be the first shot I had ever fired at a deer, and I was nervous. What if I hit him in the gut? What if I miss? What if I miss and then spook all the other deer on the property? I had a million fears and doubts running through my head. I did my best to quiet the noise in my head and got ready to pull the trigger. I centered the crosshairs of my newly-sighted 30-06 on the buck’s shoulders and proceeded to pull the trigger. The bullet soared right over the deer and made an impact in the soil behind him. He quickly perked up and ran off into the woods. “Great,” I though, “I just missed my only chance at a buck!”
As I pouted over my missed shot, I thought to myself, “That darn scope must be off.” My friend Elijah had just helped me sight the rifle the previous week, and even thought I wasn’t a great shot by any stretch of the imagination I was more confident in my marksmanship than my ability to sight a rifle. I gave David a call and said, “David, would you mind picking me up? I need to head back to your place to sight my rifle. It must be off.” David obliged and picked me up within a few minutes. We took the rifle to his place and he said, “Let me see that thing.” David picked up the rifle and put a round down range—a perfect bullseye! I was embarrassed—deeply. The rifle was spot on. I guess I just got nervous and blew it.
I decided to grab some grub before heading back to the shooting house. “Tonight promises to be better than this morning. I certainly won’t make the same mistake twice,” I said to myself.
So, I snuck back to the shooting house. As I approached, I could see a small spike out on the field. I thought to myself that it must be a good sign that the deer are still sticking around after that loud gunfire. I managed to sneak back into the house without disturbing the deer just a football field’s distance from me. I turned on the propane heater and watched the field for a buck. Not before long, the spike had wandered off the field back into the woods. I fiddled with my phone trying to alleviate some of the boredom. When I look back up, a 6-point buck had found its way on the field. Cautiously, the deer made its way over to a fresh patch of wheat grass. My heart pounds. I slowly go over in my head the steps I’m going to go through. After rehearsing for a few minutes, I take aim at the deer. The crosshairs are right where they need to be. The deer bends to graze. I breathe deeply and exhale. At the bottom of the exhale, I slowly squeeze the trigger. Bang! The force of the bullet knocks the deer off his feet into the snow.
Excitement, that’s the first emotion that I feel. “Yes! I hit the deer!” The deer begins to kick and struggle. The snow around the deer becomes a deep crimson. I have to look away. Guilt, this is the next emotion I feel. A few minutes later, I look up and notice that the deer has stopped moving. He’s dead.
I hang the rifle over my shoulder and walk down the stairs of the shooting house. As I approach the deer, I wonder where exactly the bullet hit. As I get closer, I notice where the bullet hit—right in the heart. “He didn’t suffer long,” I told myself.
What an epic, beautiful, and morbid scene, this majestic creature with his blood poetically spilled onto the white snow who just gave his life to provide our family with meat. The next emotion I feel is gratitude. I learn down to the animal and gaze into his cold and lifeless eyes. Much like the Native Americans in movies, I felt the odd desire to thank the animal for his contribution, so I did.
Killing a deer isn’t an experience you can understand unless you’ve done it. It’s a transcendent and spiritual experience. You simultaneously experience joy, guilt, and gratitude. You reflect on the bittersweet truth that something has to suffer and die so that you might live. You think about who all you’re going to tell first. You think about grilled backstrap. Mhhmm…
If you follow the Southern Land Brokers, chances are that you’ve killed a deer. Leave a response telling us about your first deer!