Outfitting Your Outdoor Lifestyle
Outfitting Your Outdoor Lifestyle
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Home / Breaking the Ice

Breaking the Ice

August 4, 2015
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I remember it as if it were yesterday…the first big game animal that I ever harvested. I can look at the euro mounts of antlers that adorn my walls, the full body turkey mount on the floor, and the shoulder mounts of a couple of my best deer, and tell you the story of each of these animals as well. But, just like your first car, you had to start somewhere. I grew up in the rural farmland of Northern Indiana on an 800 acre farm, surrounded by more and more farmland in every direction. The primary crop was corn, followed by soybeans and wheat. The farm I hunted had a creek that meandered the length of the property, which was mostly fields with just a couple of small woodlots. As a kid, I would get off the school bus and disappear into the woods and fields and wouldn’t return until dark. I got to know almost every inch of the farm by just being a kid. I got my first gun at the age of 12, a single shot 20 gauge made by Harrington and Richardson. My dad bought it second hand, and then took the time to refinish the stock, and re-blue the metal before giving it to me for Christmas that year. I couldn’t begin to tell you how many rabbits and squirrels fell to that little shotgun over the next year! When fall came around, I was anxious to hunt something bigger. I wanted to kill a deer, and I was bound and determined to make it happen! With a single shot 20 gauge, a heavy flannel shirt, a pair of worn out denim jeans with a pocket full of deer slugs, I set out… I would take in all of the sounds, study all of the tracks, follow the trails, and do everything a young rookie deer hunter thinks is the right way to hunt. I would get off the school bus and continue my treks as I did when I was just a bit younger, but this time would be in search of a larger quarry! I remember it was a Saturday morning, and we were planning to cut firewood that day, as winter was right around the corner and our primary source of heat was a wood burning furnace. My oldest brother and I would often walk back to the woods ahead of my dad in his truck to shoot a couple squirrels before the sound of the chainsaw cut through the sound of nature. This day, we decided we were going to team up and see if we could push a deer toward each other, in a weak attempt of a 2 man deer drive. We had all sorts of bright ideas as kids, and looking back at some of those ideas it is a wonder no one ever got seriously hurt! A couple of teenage boys set out on a mission that morning, find a deer, and prove that we could be successful big game hunters! The corn fields were ready for harvest, and there was a steady breeze blowing…as we trekked toward the corner of the woodlot through the cornfield that breeze would cover our noise if we took our time and slipped through slowly. We split up about 30 yards or so apart, and tried to keep each other in view as we hunted our way through the field. We found it difficult to keep eyes on each other through the thick corn, but I would catch glimpses of him through the corn and realized that we were still about 35-40 yards apart and moving the same direction toward the woodlot. There is a tractor access road that runs parallel with the woodlot, and that is where we were going to ease into the woods. We were about 100 yards away from that spot, and the terrain of the field dipped just enough for me to see that area. Standing in that 20 yard wide gap was a buck!! He had no idea we were there, and I turned toward my brother trying every way I could to get his attention to no avail…he continued toward the deer, yet had no idea there was even a deer there! All I could do was ease toward the buck, trying to keep an eye on him and my brother….I guess I had made it about 45/50 yards through the field toward the buck when all of a sudden the field erupted with deer! In staying focused on that buck, I had not noticed all of the deer that were feeding in the corn between us and it, and had nearly walked right in to the herd of 5 or 6 deer in the field. Once the dust settled, I turned to see my brother to my right with a big surprised look on his face as well. I looked back to where the buck had been standing, and caught just the slightest of movement slightly to my right but only 30 yards away. I quickly realized it was the flicker of an ear as I locked eyes with a big ole doe. I immediately lifted that little single shot to my shoulder at the same moment I pulled the hammer back. I found the white throat patch of that doe and settled the bead, the lowered it about 6 inches down her neck. I squeezed the trigger and that big doe just disappeared! My brother ran through the corn up to where I was standing, and the two of us made our way to where she had been standing. There she was, just lying on the ground in the very spot she had been standing! The feeling of disappointment I held the moment all of those deer exploded running through the field was just replaced by a sudden surge of adrenaline, shock, and disbelief as I was looking down at the first deer I had ever killed. My brother and I high fived each other, then I explained to him about the buck that had been standing there between the woods and field. It didn’t matter at that point, I felt as though I had killed a monster buck, at 13 years old I had managed to kill my very first deer! The next few hours we spent cutting up that deer, and cutting wood was put off for another day. I never understood the idea of putting meat on the table for my family as I do now that I have a few years behind me! But I remember the meals that my mom and dad put in front of us for the next few months that were provided from that hunt. Today my appreciation of the life that is given to provide a healthy meal is at a new level, I fully understand the cycle of life. I am a hunter, and a provider…and for that I do not apologize!

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