Opening day of gun season had me chomping at the bit all day at work. As soon as the school day was over, I headed for the house to get ready and headed for a ground blind I had set up on a friend's farm about 5 minutes away from home. My brother-in-law Trent and I had been seeing a fair number of deer in this field during bow and muzzle loader seasons, and had several does and young bucks on our trail cameras. I was hunting the lower end of a fairly large field, not far from the tree stand where Trent had harvested his first deer last year, an 8 point buck, during bow season.
At this point, I should probably admit that I had only harvested one buck in my deer hunting career, a 3 point buck that was my first deer. I didn't start deer hunting until I was in high school, and it wasn't until I was a senior in college that I got my first deer. I think a lot of this was due to a lack of areas to hunt back then, or seeing does during buck only seasons. For whatever reason, it took me a while to finally get that first deer, but that deer ignited a passion for deer hunting. In the years since, I had passed on several young bucks, with the idea that I would take does for meat and let the little bucks grow. Here in North Carolina we are fortunate to have the opportunity to take 6 deer a year, (something that I have never done), but only two of those deer can be antlered bucks in my area of the state. I think this was another reason I passed a lot of small bucks, thinking I would "save" my tags for that big one that I was sure would come by the next minute, or hour, or day. Over the years, I have usually been lucky enough to take a deer or two each season, but that nice buck always eluded me.
|My First Deer - Thanksgiving 2005|
Going back to opening afternoon, I got in the ground blind around 4:00pm, and for the next hour or so I heard a few shots in the distance, but didn't see any deer. As it approached time for the sun to start going down, I noticed a deer had just stepped out of the woods into the edge of the field, about 50 yards from my blind. It had it's head down feeding, and I couldn't tell if it was a doe or buck because of the the way the field dropped off at the edge. About that time, the deer picked it's head up and I could tell it was a nice buck! I didn't give myself too much time to think about it, knowing that buck fever was sure to set in at any second. After the shot I couldn't see the deer, but I felt confident that I had made a clean shot. I got out of the blind as fast as possible and went to check. After about two steps, I could see my buck laying just over the little hill on the edge of the field. It was an 8 point buck with a symmetrical rack that was 16" wide.
|My 8 point from this year|
It's strange reflecting on this hunt, because this is by far my biggest deer to date, and probably the biggest buck I've seen while hunting. I know it's not a record book deer or one like you might see on a hunting show, but for me it is a definite trophy and the memories of this hunt will stick with me for a long time. Best of all, not only do I have the memories, but I have some wonderful, nutritious meat in the freezer, and a good supply of venison jerky, one of my absolute favorite foods.
After opening day and working Tuesday, I spent the rest of Thanksgiving break hunting, enjoying time with family, and freezing venison and making jerky. I can't think of a better way to spend a week than this. I've seen a few more deer since opening day, but so far this is the only tag I've filled this year. This week and next week are still buck-only, and our last week is either sex season again. I'm going to be out there as much as possible, just enjoying God's creation. The deer are a bonus, no matter how big their antlers are.
Thanks for stopping by!