A little back story on my hunting career: I have been hunting with this friend for going on three years. I shoot handguns all the time but he's the one that taught me to shoot a rifle, and I was good at it. I hit everything I aimed at when we would practice. Of course that was without my nerves going crazy and the target moving. So while I have been on many hunts with him, they were rarely fruitful for me. I did get to see him take the biggest buck of his life, which was really exciting, and I shot a doe once but she required a second shot to die, so he took that one, too.
So once everyone was awake and ready to go, my friend and I jumped in his truck and headed off to the deer stand so we could be in before the sun came up. I was partly dreading the morning hunt because I knew it was going to go like every single morning hunt we'd ever been on together. I was going to be super grouchy for having to be up so early and he was going to be super impatient because of my grouchiness and we were going to have a real good loud-whisper fight as soon as we got in the stand. And true to our relationship, that's exactly what happened. We sat there in silence for a few minutes, took a few deep breaths, then got all set up.
The morning was proving to be a bad one for deer movement because of the high winds. It was my first time hunting out of a tree stand rather than a box stand so the winds were miserable for us as well. We eventually gave up on the morning and climbed down knowing we'd return for the afternoon when the winds were supposed to slow down.
After grabbing breakfast we went back to the cabin and since I had not been to bed yet, I went to sleep until he woke me up to tell me it was time to get ready to go again. As we pulled up to where we were going to walk to the stand, we sat in the truck for a few minutes while he reminded me of all the things he'd taught me thus far. I got extremely nervous but tried my best to hide it from him. I don't think it worked.
Another quick back story about why I would get so nervous even thinking about going: So I've already mentioned the doe I shot that didn't die. It was my first year. It was my first time shooting a gun at a moving target. It was a bad shot, a low shot. I blew her leg off but that was about it. He had to shoot her to kill her to keep her from suffering so long. The following year I shot at and completely missed two different deer. One of them I swear just looked at me for a minute after I shot like, "really? That's all ya got??" (He tells me when he checked afterwards that the scope was off but to this day I still think he's saying that to try to make me feel better.) In addition to that, I LOVE to hear him tell the stories of all the deer his daughters have harvested, the pride just pouring out. But I allowed that to put a lot of pressure on me, too.
Ok, back to the present. We make it to the deer stand and climb up and get all situated. Afternoon hunts have always been better for us together because my mood is in check and we can just be nicer to each other. I had the gun propped up on the rail and would practice looking through the scope and lining it up to something to practice taking aim. Then we sat back and watched and waited. Less than an hour after being in the stand I looked up and saw a buck coming out of the woods directly in front of me. I nudged my friend so he could look and tell me if it was the right deer. (Y'all, I'm starting to shake and my heart is starting to beat faster just reliving this moment to type it out!) He whispered for me to move my gun over...at this point I still wasn't sure if this was the deer or if he was just having me practice looking at it through the scope. I look through and line up for a shot, take a quick look at my friend and see him plug his ears, then knew I had to take the shot. I got him back in the scope, following him as he walked, my friend made a call to stop him for a split second and I took a deep breath in then took the shot. Then I saw him scamper away. My shoulders dropped and I thought to myself, "I missed again." And I apparently said it out loud because I was quickly whispered at to "shut up and watch" and I looked back up just in time to see him fall over. My friend turned and grabbed ahold of me and I buried my face in his chest. He kept saying something over and over and I still have no idea what he was saying. (I imagine it was something like, "oh wow, you're the best hunter I've ever seen!") I was shaking, I couldn't catch my breath, I was crying...all from pure excitement and happiness. I had been trying for THREE years and it finally happened! Instead of me asking him to kill me a deer and bring me the meat, like I had so many times before, I had just done it myself. We waited in the stand for me to calm down so I could safely climb down. After probably 20 minutes he said, "let's go see what we got." We climbed down and walked over to where he lay. We walked up on him and my friend looked at the shot and said it was perfect he was just a big boy and took a little longer to fall over. I looked at the deer, whispered a quick "thank you" to God for this friend, this opportunity and this harvest, then went in for a closer look.
|sorry about the hat...it looks ridiculous on me but he made me wear it.|
Friends that hunt together stick together..