|First Deer of the 2007 Season
||[Dec. 24th, 2007|11:16 am]
The Sunday before Christmas 2007, I woke up at 4 A.M. and got ready to meet my dad at 5 A.M. at his house. We then hit the road, heading over to our property in Liberty, Mississippi, which is just south of McComb. We have been hunting deer over there for the past two decades. It’s about a 2.5 hour drive away, which is why we left so early.|
We arrive at the deer camp around 7:30 and started getting ready. My dad was already walking into the woods while I was lacing up my boots and getting geared up for the hunt. It was in the upper 30’s outside, so I needed to add some extra layers of clothing to keep warm. By 7:35, I was walking up the main camp road toward my deer stand. It was to be about a half mile walk and I always go in on foot in case I jumped something along the way.
I walked all of about 250 yards when I started hearing something scratching around on the ground. It sounded almost like somebody was raking pine straw, but I couldn’t see anything. I readied my rifle and slowly walked up the road, taking only a few steps at a time before stopping to look around. I went forward another 100 feet until I reached a small bend in the road where a huge pine tree stood. I could still hear the scratching sound, but saw nothing.
When I took a few more steps forward, which put me just the other side of that big pine tree, I saw a buck looking right at me. He was standing by the side of the road, perfectly still, and looking in my direction. He must’ve heard my boots stepping on the gravel in the road. After I saw his body standing broadside in front of me, I saw his antlers next. He wasn’t a huge buck, but he was definitely a nice size, and bigger than any I’d seen in several years.
Using slow, even movements, I carefully switched the safety on my rifle to fire, then I raised the gun while looking into the scope. A second later, I had the deer in my crosshairs, and I fired. He hit the ground, got back up, then ran about 50 feet before keeling over, dead. When I went to inspect the deer, he had a very symmetrical rack with six tines, thus making him what we call a six-point buck. It would turn out the scratching sound I heard was him making a scrape on the ground to attract does.
Just to reiterate, I woke up at 4 that morning, drove 2.5 hours, and hunted no more than 10 minutes. It was the quickest deer hunt I’d ever been on. I was almost a little disappointed because I now had to wait on my dad, and that could take all morning. Fortunately, he came walking back into camp about an hour later. When I told him that I got a six-point buck, he said, “Mine’s a seven.” He had shot one about an hour after I did.
We spent the rest of the day getting the deer out of the woods, then cleaning and quartering the body. Tomorrow, we begin the process of butchering the meat. We’re going to have a bunch of salami and sausage made up, then use the prime parts like the tenderloin and backstraps for grilling.
I know a lot of people don’t understand deer hunting and think it’s just a bunch of rednecks going in the woods with their big guns to terrorize and kill animals, but it is quite a lot of work. I hunted for 10 minutes and my dad only hunted for an hour, yet we spent several hours working on those deer after we shot them. I guess we could have paid somebody to do that for us, but why waste the money on something you can do yourself? It’s not exactly fun, but at least you know that the meat has been handled properly.
We hunt deer for both economical and health reasons, on top of enjoying the outdoors and getting away from ringing telephones and loud televisions for a little while. Out of those two deer, we’ll end up with over 100 pounds of meat. That’s meat from an animal that was never fed any kind of hormonal treatment or genetically engineered food. Those two deer were about as ‘free range’ as one can get. You just can’t get the same quality from beef bought at a grocery store.
Photo: Me posing with the two deer. Mine is the one on the left.