The Hunting Stories
The Souvenir Of One Such Story
Here's my own hunting story....
I was just 14 years old, and for years my dad and my Uncle Walter had regaled me with stories of their own sojourns into the Maine woods while hunting for deer.
The images I had gained from their stories were of days hiking among the golden leaves of autumn, the fresh air, and the thrills of spotting and downing a season's deer.
The reality, on my first day of deer hunting, was quite different. And, as it turned out, it was quite different in many ways.
We had arrived at our wood stove heated cabin well after midnight. Dad had planned to get up before dawn, cook a hearty breakfast, eat, and be hunting at the first light of day.
That plan changed when he realized how tired he was from the two of us getting our food and supplies across the swift-running Little Alder Stream the previous night.
When we did get up, cook, eat, and load ourselves down with equipment, ammunition, and supplies for the day ahead, we didn't leave the cabin until somewhat after 9:00 AM.
Contrary to the "golden leaves of autumn" imagery, it was drizzling a light rain, and my first lesson in reality was taking off my boots and socks to wade another, smaller stream, to access a deer trail into the woods.
Once my cold feet were dried, and slightly warm again inside my boots, we struck off up the trail, dad teaching me as we went that, "If you see a deer, and it is standing still, take all the time you need to carefully aim before shooting at it."
We proceeded, with my dad in the lead, and it was scarcely 10 minutes later that I spotted a deer my dad had passed by.
Rather than seeing a living deer, in my mind I suspected that someone had somehow left a dead deer that my uncle, dad, or both had propped up there in order to have a good laugh at me, if I failed to notice it.
Thinking that I had better be sure to hit the animal, I took the time I had been told to take for a good shot, and my dad noticed I had stopped and was taking more than the suggested time "to practice aiming".
He took several strides back to look over my shoulder just as I fired my .32 Winchester.
And the deer dropped!
As I attempted to reload, in case the deer jumped back up, the next shell caught on the rim of the chamber, and I struggled to reposition it and reload.
Meanwhile, my dad was almost yelling, "Good shot! Damn good shot!"
With the next shell loaded, we proceeded off the trail some distance to where the deer had dropped.
I had indeed fired a "damn good shot" for the bullet had hit the large buck in mid-throat, and he had died on the spot.
Dad said, "You want to stick the deer so the blood can drain, but cut low, you will want to save this one," meaning the head as well as the antlers.
I did as he said, with a knife I had just won in a magazine selling contest our school had held to raise money for the school. No blood drained, as the buck's blood had immediately filled his body cavity.
After field dressing the deer, we attached my nylon pull rope, and by lunch time the two of us had the deer in camp and hanging up beside a snowshoe rabbit that was the only trophy my Uncle Walter, and Uncle Charles, had to show for their previous week of hunting.
When they arrived in camp, their first question was one for my dad, "Did you shoot it?"
Dad, with a good deal of pride in his voice said, "No, your nephew shot it."
We drove the whitetail deer to a ranger station where the deer was weighed in at an estimated live weight of 269 pounds and tagged as eligible for a State of Maine certificate as one of the Biggest Bucks In Maine Club deer of the year.
Dad took a black and white photo of the deer and me beside the snowshoe rabbit, and the photo appeared in the local "Portsmouth Herald" newspaper for all to see.
This prompted the assertion of classmates back at school, "We know your dad probably shot that deer."
But I knew the truth of that hunting story, namely that in my first 15 minutes of deer hunting, and with my first shot at a deer, I had downed a trophy buck, and eventually had the patch for my jacket that symbolized the achievement. (Shown under the mounted deer's head photo above.) The patch was accompanied by an official card signed by the Governor.
© 2020 Demas W Jasper