First Hunting Trip
When I was fifteen years old, my dad took me on my first hunting trip. We were going deer hunting, whitetail to be more specific. In Northern Idaho whitetails are plentiful. I think they must love the serene beauty of a cool mountain air morning. The date is Nov 14th 1995; it’s early Saturday morning and the season opener for whitetail doe. Where I am from, the season opener is a religious holiday; you can expect half the students at school to miss this day. It being a Saturday no one would be skipping school though.
The beginning of the Hunting trips
The day started with a wake up at 4:30 AM. My dad hollered down the hall, “Wake up son, it’s time to go hunting.”
I rolled out of bed grudgingly; I was having a wonderful dream about my girlfriend and didn’t want to leave it. As I started to gain consciousness I remembered that today was to be my first hunting trip with my dad. I got dressed in a set of long johns, a pair of wool socks, t-shirt, button-up shirt, and blue-jeans. I then grabbed my thick hunting jacket and black watch cap and headed to the living room.
My dad was already dressed, ready to go, and had a pot of oatmeal cooking in the kitchen. His 30-06 and his 300 savage was in the living room leaning up against the wall. Ammunition for both rifles was sitting in its respective box on the couch.
Dad and I ate a bowl of oatmeal each. He said that eating the oatmeal will give you warmth and energy, both of which you’ll need. Once we had our breakfast eaten it was time to prepare the rifles, grab our gear, and go hunt.
We live on 80 acres of land. This land has hills, valleys, a creek, trees, and clearings that are conducive to deer hunting. Our house which is near the county road was a nice walk away from where we would be hunting. We have three fields one north of the house, one south and one west of the house. When you walk around to the side of the west field you come upon a group of pine trees on the left. Once you get to the pine trees you head to the right and see a group of about four trees plus one that fell down. Sitting on the fallen tree facing west you can see across a draw. The hill goes down to our creek, and then across the creek it goes uphill to meet our fence line. There are two groups of trees; on the left is more pine trees, on the right some quaky trees, and in the middle is a nice clearing. Sitting on the log if you divide it into a pie the clearing gave you about a third of the top half. The distance from log to fence line is about two hundred fifty yards straight out. It is a great spot to hunt from.
I put on my insulated hiking boots, filled my two quart canteen and put it on, and put on my orange vest. Dad gave me ten 300 savage rounds to load into the rifle and five to put into my pocket. I did so while joking about only needing one. He laughed, he loaded his rifle, and out the door we went. The morning air was cold on November 14th at 5:30 in the morning but it was manageable. A slight mist crept across the ground and the sounds were amplified. A coyote called in the distance, a cow hollered two miles away, and a twig snapped out in the woods on the right. As we strolled up to the west field dad asked me some hunting questions.
“When do you shoot for the kill?” He asked.
“Only when I positively identify the deer and only after the area is clear from anything other than the deer. Oh, and when I have the perfect shot lined up.”
“What about the type of deer, doe or buck?”
“Its doe season so I have to wait, and only target a doe.”
“Alright, let’s get us a doe then, huh.” He said as he punched my arm.
We continued out to the hunting grounds we scouted out the week before. Along the banks of the creek near the old barn that sits on our land is one apple tree. At the apple tree we had spotted signs of deer. I assume they eat apples sometimes because there were a lot of droppings. In the quaky groves we found a lot of bed down areas as well.
We got to the fallen log that looks across the draw at 5:45. It was still dark out but the sun had just poked it head over the horizon so it was light enough to see the creek and a little beyond. Dad and I sat on the log waiting for 6:30. According to the news, sunrise would be at 6:30. Dad and I sat and talked about numerous things, looking back on it now I realize that dad and I were bonding. To me at 15 that was the best thing. Twice, in the midst of our conversation, he thought he saw something and checked it out through the scope of his 30-06. It must not have been anything because he never fired at it. I think that this hunt, he fully intended for me to have the kill. So even if he did sight something he wouldn’t have shot it. He would have told me where it was and to shoot it. Looking back I never saw him chamber a round.
At 6:15 I could see all the way to the fence line and the mist had evaporated. Dad said, “Alright son, load your round. I am going to go across the creek on the other side of the barn, and then I am going to go into the quaky grove to flush out any deer. I have my orange vest on so if you see it, don’t shoot. I will holler to you when I come to the clearing alright? You sit here and see if you can get a doe. Just remember what they said in the hunter safety class.”
I agreed and nervously chambered a round. Dad took off and I sat there on the log waiting. I continuously visualized the possible areas dad might be at. I got involved in a whole dialogue inside my head, with my newest girlfriend. A twig snapped on my front right (in the quaky trees) breaking me off in mid thought. I raised my rifle toward the clearing, both eyes open, and thumb over the safety. I was ready to shoot in about two seconds if needed.
Pretty soon, I heard the commotion of four deer rushing through trees and branches. Out from the trees in a flash the deer bounded like only deer can do, in huge leaping arcs. The first animal out of the trees was a six-point buck (three on each side). By the time I unlocked the safety and started to target he would be out of view so I pointed it at the doe. The doe came out second. It must have been a hundred pounds just sitting there. The last two deer were also doe but smaller than the first.
The deer stopped in the clearing, and looked over at the trees as if to say, what was that? The buck was on the left side of the clearing by the pine trees, the first doe was right in the middle half way up to the fence line, and the other two deer were staggered about a hundred feet behind the first doe. I drew down on the first doe. My heart was jack hammering in my chest, my breathing was erratic, and my hands were shaky. It felt like forever, I could see the doe through the scope but I had scope shade from a bad angle. I drew in a deep breath and the scope became clear. I placed the cross hairs over the deer right behind the front shoulder and up two inches. As I eased out my breath I squeezed the trigger. In the instant that trigger was squeezed, I looked over the scope with both eyes. I saw the deer go down but I also saw it get up and run away.
Dad hollered from the quaky trees, “Did you get it!?”
“I don’t know, it got up and ran away. I think I missed…No I missed it!”
“I’m coming out, don’t shoot!” He responded
“Alright I’m coming up!” I yelled
So I slung the 300 savage, and headed over to the clearing. Five minutes later I was across the creek and standing next to my dad. My heart was still beating like a marathon runners, but it was slowing.
“Where was the deer when you shot at it?” Dad asked.
I showed him about where it was. We looked around the spot for about five minutes. Suddenly dad called over to me.
“What’s this?” He asked
Well, I’ll be it was a deer, a dead deer. “Coyote must have gotten him.” I naively said.
“No, I don’t think so, unless coyotes started killing with 300 savages. Look son.”
There it was, a bullet wound right in the deer’s kill spot. “That, my boy, is a perfect shot.”
That day I earned three things. First, I earned a 300 savage. My dad decided that I should have that particular rifle, said it was a tradition. Second, I got to give deer meat to the family members and my new girlfriend. And third, I earned the nickname of “Eagle Eye.”