It was November of 1985 and there weren't alot of deer, but there were indeed more than there were just a few years prior.
I had been deer hunting since I was 14. I had just turned 18 and graduated from high school.
I honestly can't remember how many deer I saw before this hunt, but I know it wasn't very many. I do remember the opening day of "gun" season in Weakley County that year. "Gun" season in Weakley County at that time meant shotgun, no centerfire rifles and no does were allowed. My how times have indeed changed, but that is another story.
The sights, smells, sounds, everything about that day I can recount with vivid detail. I can still hear the rain as it started about 3:00 p.m. as it was hitting the plastic blaze orange vest I was wearing. I can remember hearing some geese fly over before daylight, I can remember seeing a few squirrels earlier in the day.
Mostly I remember the very first instant that I saw the sun hitting the huge rack of the three point buck as he came into view.
It had been drilled into my head that when you shoot a deer it will run off. There is nothing you can do about it, just watch the very last spot you see him and then we will go after him. That is what my brother-in-law, Garry, had told me anyway.
I, until that moment, had never prayed that hard for anything in my life. I can remember staring at that gold "BB" front sight on the Winchester 20 gage and praying that it stayed still, right there behind the shoulder.
I impressed my Garry with the fact that I actually shot the deer at a distance of 80 yards.
I impressed myself with the fact that as soon as I pulled the trigger the deer dropped where he stood, or walked as the case was.
3 point buck, 94 pounds field dressed. The highlight of my hunting career.
Now lets go forward a few years, about 17 or so actually.
I had began taking my son to the woods with me when he was only 4. Mainly just walking with me and usually me ending up carrying him quite a bit.
Then at 5 he began going with me to deer hunt. I would purposely hunt where I would not get a shot, but I might see a deer. Usually our "hunts" lasted between 10 and 30 minutes. I think we got one in that lasted 45 minutes.
Then near the end of the year I decided that it might be time to actually try and kill something while he was with me.
It was a button buck that came out, and I shot.
I asked him if he wanted to see it or if he wanted me to take him home then I would come back and do the "ugly stuff" such as field dressing etc.
To my surprise not only did he want to stay, he wanted to HELP. Needless to say, a hunter was definately born that day.
Fast forward to October 2003.
It was rifle season and my son was now 6 years old. He had a brand new Remington 260 and I had turned him lose on the deer that frequent my other brother-in-laws property near my home.
It was a Tuesday afternoon and we were sitting in our ground blind that we had built together earlier in the year. We actually saw a few deer but alas they were being run by neighborhood dogs and needless to say our hearts sank as we knew it was over.
I tried my best to sound believable and told him to hang on as it might not be over yet.
Sure enough, about 30 minutes later I saw a small deer heading our way. It was a button buck and he passed our location at no more than 30 yards.
I will admit that it took my son (Man as I call him, short for Little Man) a few minutes to get on the deer. "Finally I said, if you want to shoot shoot. If you don't want to shoot, don't. But if you want to kill a deer you need to shoot NOW."
I had no more than got the words out of my mouth when the 260 roared and the little deer bucked like a mule.
The blood trail and finding the deer and my actions leading up to it are definately hillarious. I acted like I had never seen a deer killed before in my life. I had to call my buddy Nat and have him calm me down enough so that I could function enough to find the deer.
After numerous photos and so many hugs I lost count, and yes big ole happy tears from ole dad, we headed to town to show "Paw-Paw", his grandfather, my father-in-law and show off the deer. My son's FIRST deer.
Just so you know, Tuesday night is when choir practice is at our church and that is where Paw-Paw was.
Also just so you know, that didn't even slow us down, muddy, bloody and whoopin like wildmen.
I would say out of 20 people in the choir, all the men and all but a few of the women came out to my truck to see the deer and slap my son on the back.
Yes, even now as I type this my eyes well up with tears.
My "Little Man" is now 12 years old and that very first deer was the first of SIX that he killed that year, including two 7 point bucks.
He has definately grown into a fine young man and hunter and make no mistake, THAT my dear friends is the highlight of my hunting career.
I wish you all the very best this coming deer season and I sincerely hope you are all as lucky as I have been and get to share in a first of some kind this year.
God bless and good hunting always,