I was 28 years old and had never hunted. The closest I had come was when a friend and I shot a couple squirrels and sparrows in his back-yard as a kid. I remember I felt a little bad when we actually hit one.
But now I was in a situation where I was around a lot of hunters. I had always enjoyed the outdoors and had already done a fair amount of camping and backwoods hiking. So, when I was offered an opportunity to go along with a group of guys for a couple days hunting whitetail, I was eager to go.
I was green as anything…..I had to borrow camo pants and a jacket and threw it all over some jeans and a couple shirts. I didn’t know what to bring or what I would need…..fortunately the guys were kind and helpful and let’s just say I borrowed a whole lot that trip!
I didn’t know what to expect. I knew you had to get up early….and that it took a long time…..but I didn’t know exactly how I would do. I had visions of dying of boredom in the middle of a forest while completely freezing every extremity of my body. Now that I’ve hunted for a few years, I know how close to reality that is times….but in this case, I had an amazing experience.
While the group of guys were going to be out all week, I only planned on 2 days (I wanted to have an escape plan in case my worst fears were realized). It was the middle of November in Northern Alberta and it was COLD! We had a wall tent that kept us warm enough that first night, but I remember waking up, walking outside and really questioning my sanity. The plan was for me to go with one of the guys who “guaranteed” we would get something! Yeah right!
We hopped in the truck and drove 20 minutes away to a large cutline. I heard the guys talking about the “peak of the rut,” and “The bucks are moving” and “perfect conditions” but all I could think of was the cold. We hiked just over the hill and my hunting buddy picked a little scrub of bushes that we settled down behind that gave us a great vantage point looking a couple hundred yards down this cutline.
It was right at hunting light as we settled in. My buddy looked at me and said, “This is a great spot…..we’ve killed bucks here before! I bet you that within 30 minutes a buck will pop out!”
I had my doubts.
We sat. Much to my amazement, something happened….that only a hunter can explain. Yes, time ticked by….. and my feet began to freeze. And yet, it was as if the woods were coming alive all around us. I quickly forgot about my previous fear of being bored to death and instead became enthralled with the woods around us.
28 minutes later (yes, I checked), a buck stepped out at about 150 yards. He was probably a three-year-old. Not massive, but was a 5×5 and definitely fit the bill for what we were looking for. My buddy set up, and took the shot. The buck immediately dropped….and then stood up, and slowly walked back into the woods.
What luck! It looked like we had our deer! We walked down and begin checking the site for blood to follow the trail. As many hunters know, it is an anxious time.
We combed the area for over an hour. We found a small tuff of fur and the place where the bullet had it the ground. No blood anywhere. My first big opportunity and my friend had missed….and there went my opportunity.
As we discussed it, we determined that he had just skimmed the back of the deer. It was a shot down-hill and because of the trajectory of the bullet going down-hill, it had sailed just high. With nothing left to do, we hiked back to the truck and decided to try another area.
As luck would have it, 2 minutes later we came around a corner and 150 yards down a cutline another buck was crossing. My buddy jumped out of the truck and got off the road and quickly fired at the buck. It looked like it was hit, but based off of my previous experience, I wasn’t so sure. It had jumped back into the woods at the shot so we walked down quickly to take a look.
About 10 yards away from where the deer stood, my friend suddenly froze and said “Right there!” Standing in the woods about 10 yards away was the buck….he had been hit a bit far back in the body, but was definitely a hit. One more quick shot finished him off right there.
Success! The first day of my first hunt, we were able to harvest a buck. He wasn’t massive but he was a decent 4×4 that would work!
That day was the beginning of my hunting experience. I have since had adventures of my own with both successes and failures. I’m thankful for my first opportunity to go hunting and I hope that I can continue to pass on to others what has been passed to me. Till the next hunt!