Birthday Buck – Remembering Why We Hunt15 min read
Here I am with the first buck down in the 2018 season. This being my second year deer hunting, my second buck harvested. Yet I almost allowed myself to once again cut myself short. The day my daughter turned 8, one request was made that I had to try my best to accomplish. Naomi is a daughter who is happily finding her own way in the outdoors. She enjoys being out hunting with her mother. I am so proud of her sincere interest to hunt. On this day my daughter asked me to bring her home some deer meat, a birthday buck request had been received.
The day of my daughters 8th birthday, rain was coming, a lot of it. This was no surprise , it was expected in fact. With birthday plans for the weekend made, I was set on making an attempt that morning as it was the Georgia rifle season opener. With high hope and a little one at home waiting on my return, I set out with my fiancé around 5 a.m to get set up to watch the woods wake up that morning.I find this day comical while equally emotional and I’d like to tell the story behind these things. I am very new still to hunting, very much a technical, to the book hunter at this point. Remembering wind direction, scent control, landscape consideration in where to set up, being still and making absolutely no sound in the woods. All of these things meant nothing the day I dropped my first 2018 Buck.
In fact, the moments leading up to visually seeing this buck, one of us had stood up in fact, the other talking, a coke cracked open and to take the cake, we were ground hunting! To be honest, minutes before the shot rang out, I had decided it was time to begin to pack and head home. The rain had been heavy , all but my upper body was saturated all the way through. My gear and packs were soaked, but I had sat and enjoying the morning fog roll across the fields as the rain came in and out, the peace was relaxing. I was no longer sitting with hope to kill, I was sitting to relax.
Circumstanced had forced us to move earlier, which is a huge thing I never do. To me, doing this would mean blowing my cover, making the day ruined. Along with other unusual events taking place, I felt the chances were slim and the day was over. All I could do was tell my child that I tried my very best. Luck would have it however, that at the same time I looked around, one more glance before gathering my things, I caught the sight of a white tail flapping around in the field to my left. Having came up from the back side of my location, now walking away from me, I was in utter disbelief seeing the shape of a deer appear in the fog through the rain. Here we are, moving around, making noise, and anything else imaginable and out walks a whitetail deer. I quickly snapped back to my fiancé to sit down . Keeping in mind, I adore bowhunting, something I will return to shortly, but had not actually shot my rifle since last deer season. I don’t recommend that by the way! I said to him, this was a doe, corrected myself seeing antlers, advising this was a buck, then yet again.
I informed him this was in-fact a spike! Debating just moments more when he reminded me that distance was gaining between us and I needed to make a decision quickly.
In moments I had the deer back in my scope crosshair being roughly 120-140 yard out at this time, I had my rifle ready, safety already turned to off, trigger pulled. Horror filled the empty air as my rifle did not fire, nor did it even click. Without hesitation I assumed it was my safety, flipped the safety switch again, lined up, pulled the trigger, nothing happened ! I was in disbelief, this time looking down at my rifle, I soon realized the bolt was not fully engaged on my rifle. It had been knocked loose when we had moved earlier, I was unaware and should have checked my weapon! I pushed it down, rifle engaged, again found my target in my scope, pulled the trigger, nothing happened! I had in fact went from fire to safe on my first attempt, unbelievable that this was happening to me.
The deer began to quickly gain yards between us.
I finally made the shot right at approximately 180-200 years which was not an easy shot for a chick who would bow hunt year round if able. As I type this, my body still reacts with nerves about the moments I made so many attempts trying to make a shot. This attempt requiring 3 times to re-sight before finally feeling my .30-06 fire. The deer was on the move, having not seen my exact location, he knew he was in danger and had began hauling out in the opposite direction after the first time I tried to fire.
To catch anyone up, this is a piece of land I have managed and working with my own hands and energy since the beginning of 2018 . Something I take a lot of pride in , something I feel I have earned with hardworking and dedication. Not only to optimizing the land for the herd, but also in monitoring the herd number, which were mature and aged appropriately to harvest and which should be left to grow. No one did my scouting, no one did my stands, no one put in the time for me on this land. I am a huge supporter of quality deer management, something I wrote about before. This being something I am fierce in voicing my opinion on. Having shot an 8 pointer last season as my first, I proved that I was capable of resisting temptation for sake of herd health. However today would prove to be a new challenge for me. After allowing proper time to pass before retrieval, something learned the hard way after previously bumping my first deer shot by bow last season while hunting public land in Kentucky.
I finally felt it was safe and went to retrieve my prize.
Happiness soon drained from my mind when I walked up to find I had not shot a doe, or a spike but in fact a 4 point buck. Though body wise , offering respectable meat, I had shot a buck that I would have passed on had my vision allowed me to see him for what he was. Many factors play into this story to be clear regarding these thoughts that flooded my mind . Would I have shot this guy in the late season when time was running out and my freezer remained empty? absolutely! However knowing the season was young, the other opportunities I knew I had and bucks seen on land I hunt in other areas, I was sad. I was sad to see him lay there, feeling like I had nothing to be proud of now. However it was short lived!
When in reality many of those came to me by way of other people and their opinion. I knew I did not shoot him knowing his size, I knew I had not intentionally taken the life of a buck with many years left ahead of him.
I however find myself setting the bar high to be such a new hunter. I don’t regret my stance on the level of standard and dedication to deer management. I will never support the killing of deer young in age just because a hunter may be lazy or not care about the effects that reckless killing has on a herd. I don’t give myself any room or slack, I don’t think because I am in my second year that I should be comfortable having lower standards to live by as a hunter. The same hunter who has 20 years behind them, who pass on sizes, hunt by the same standards as myself in my mind. Experience means nothing to me when speaking about ethics and doing what is right! I had to quickly lay my pride aside and remember that mistakes happen.
I looked at this buck and remembered WHY I HUNT. First and foremost, I hunt to eat.
I hunt to return to the once known way of life, the only way to survive. I hunt because I do not wish to be helpless in my ability to feed my family. In hunting I feel most inline with the way mankind was meant to live. Is it necessary to hunt to survive these days? Absolutely not! I had to remember that I have no one to impress, no one to report to, I had broken no laws, I had answered the request of my daughter, I had meat to bring home. Was I sad that I spent a tag on this buck? I was, I cannot deny that. However I was proud that I had the morals and ethics to tag appropriately even if it cost me.
This was life, life isn’t always perfect . Maybe I was in these moments once again to help others remember as well.
There is nothing wrong with having high standards, there is nothing wrong with having your own requirements. It is however wrong to feel like you have to live up to the standards of someone else! I have used guides and outfitter services, I appreciate their hard work and the things they allow me to learn while hunting with them. Remembering that every expert was once a beginner is huge for me in my mind. When the want is strong and the intentions are right, there is no reason to anything but joy upon bringing home any size deer so long as it’s legal.
I withstood the weather, mental struggles, and proved the setup does not need to be perfect to end with success.
I now will think differently in regards to hunting through the rain, not staying home and shooting down thoughts of success in this environment. It’s amazing to think that by the time I shot this buck, I no longer felt the rain, I was no longer cold, I was no longer conscience of discomfort or cramps related to sitting. I laughed remembering the moments where I was undecided, was this a doe, a buck, a spike, my heart began to pick up speed, my adrenaline pumping through my body causing physical reaction. Similar to the old humor in saying “it’s a bird, it’s a plane”. The humor behind being reminded that you don’t have to be perfect to be successful! This day the wind was not in my favor with the direction this buck came to field from, the movements going on , not noticed either! This is not meant to say we should slack in our preparation and such, it’s simply to say, don’t give up, don’t get discouraged too early!
Life isn’t perfect! Why think we have to be.
I went home , my daughter was ecstatic, my family proud. I was thankful for this deer more than I can express. He taught me where I was weak and of course he made my freezer no long be bare of deer meat. He reminded me to stay proud of things I work for, that I have no standard but my own to live to. I was filled with happy jitters seeing my kids reactions, once again being told I was supreme in the mothers who rule at their school. It’s silly and simple, but means the world to me how they see me in their life. This buck was butchered and set to make many meals from. The skull will be euro mounted and given to my daughter as a surprise for Christmas to go on her wall. Something I know will make her smile for years to come.
With one quality buck tag left in Georgia and nearly an entire season to go. Much work is left to be done for me and work is something I am not afraid of. I hope to visit other states in the coming months for success while hunting with close friends I have been glad to come to know over the love of hunting. The same people who receive messages from me long before my social media accounts are aware, the same people who have given words of encouragement on days I may need little boost. Remembering why I hunt and that I hunt for me is key to my life. Remembering to stay honest, humble and work hard are what I hope to be things my children remember when they think about who I am as a mother. We are the after all our biggest competition! Let this be a push for better, not a foot hold to defeat in life. I wish you well, safe hunting and happiness in your pursuit. In all things give thanks , here is where peace meets satisfaction.