When I first started deer hunting, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I borrowed a friend’s 30/30, he gave me a half full box of shells, I bought a $7 tag, and off I went to my Grandma’s farm in Steeleville, MO.

My very first morning I went out, I didn’t have anything to sit on, so I grabbed one of the kitchen chairs and dragged it out into the woods. I must have been quite a sight.

I set the chair next to a big oak tree and waited.

Within 30 seconds, a deer appeared up the hill from me. It was moving parallel to me. I waited until it stopped and then shot. I had no comprehension of my gun, its range or its capabilities. I couldn’t tell you if I hit the deer or not. All I know is it ran off and I started to chase it. I chased that deer for about a mile. It kept stopping and looking back. Every time it stopped, I would stop and shoot. Finally, it just turned on the afterburners and was gone. In hindsight, that was very atypical behavior for a whitetail.

Frustrated, I went back to my kitchen chair to sit down and continue my hunt. I couldn’t find it. Having not developed any sense of woodmanship, I was completely and utterly lost. It took me about an hour, but I did find way back, after I stumbled onto one of my hunting buddies who told me which way to go.

Arriving back at the chair thoroughly exhausted, sweaty and cold, I sat down to wait for the next deer.

About 30 seconds later I heard a noise behind me. I turned around to see three deer coming. Man, deer hunting is easy!

One of the deer was coming right towards me! I sat patiently waiting, with my gun resting on a branch. It came closer and closer and closer. I waited patiently for the deer to turn sideways so I could shoot it through the chest, as I had been advised by the brothers back at Sigma Chi fraternity house. It never turned.

So I had this deer facing me, straight on, at about the feet. Yes, three feet! I figured I could shoot it straight-on at that distance, so I shot. The deer did a black flip and landed on its back. I jumped up and down in exaltation. My first deer!

Then the deer got up and started to run! Remembering what had happened only a short while ago, I was having nothing to do with that. So I worked the lever on the 30/30, aimed and shot the deer again, right in the butt. It did a front flip this time and went down. I jumped for joy. I had my first deer!

Then it got up and ran again. Enough of this! I shot it again. And down it went.

Not taking any more chances, I decided to not jump for joy, but instead to jump on the deer. I dove for the deer, which was still only about 10 feet away, and landed on top of it, determined to hold it down.

It didn’t get up!

I then began the task of field-dressing the deer. I was totally clueless. My Sigma Chi fraternity brothers told me to cut its guts out, but neglected to go into any useful details as to procedures.

So I did my best, which wasn’t very good.

When I thought it was completed, I slung the gun over my shoulder and looked at the kill before me and then realized that I had to get it back to the cabin. So I started dragging it, and dragging it, and dragging it, until I realized that I was not going to make it back to the cabin in the near future. So I enlisted my friend to help me. Two dragging a deer is whole lot easier than one.

We got it back to the cabin, and a neighbor came by and showed me how to complete the job of field dressing the deer. I had thought I was done, but he showed me how far from done I was.

I threw the deer in the trunk of my car, drove it to my Grandpa’s and let him butcher it.

We got some great freezer meat out of the deer. We’d have had more if I knew anything about how to shoot a deer.

Here’s an economic note. That deer cost me $7 for the tag and less than $15 for the gas for the trip. So the entire deer cost me basically around $20. We probably got around 40 pounds of meat off of it. That’s $0.50/pound for the meat. Not bad!

Nowadays when I shoot a deer, the freezer meat we get costs more per pound than weapons-grade plutonium.

J. T. Holley adds:

The first thing I ever shot was a 20 lb. groundhog that kept invading my PaPa’s garden, eating up all the veggies. I begged PaPa from a young age to teach me how to hunt. The summer of ’80 he handed me a .22 rifle and said “If you can’t hit that big ol’ whistlepig then I ain’t teaching you how to hunt anything else.” I came through. It wasn’t easy to say the least. Took me two days, but I finally got him.


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