A Deer Hunting Story
J. C. Tilton
Many times in life we tell our selves that ‘some day' I'll do this or ‘some day' I'll do that. My father went deer hunting out West and after hearing his stories, that sounded like something worth doing. Although I had gone hunting almost every fall from the age of 14 on up, it was always for small game. With every passing year, it was something that I kept in back of my mind, but never did get around to doing.
Then I had an event in my life that prompted me to start getting things done. I had a significant heart attack about a week before my 41st birthday. After getting a stent, recovering, and getting the green light from my doctor I resumed physical activity. And started realizing that it may be a good idea to start doing all those things that I wanted to - while I still could.
First choice was to decide which season to go deer hunting in. The early season is open to bow hunting. But it was a concern that being a rookie, I wouldn't get a clean shot and wound the animal. That left the slug shotgun season or the black powder season. Black powder is OK and I've shot them before, but I had heard that the upkeep is critical on a muzzle loader. Plus it takes a little effort to reload one. Now that the decision was made for a slug rifle, I made a trip to Olde English Gunshop North of Dayton. There was a nice used Mossberg slug shotgun that fit the bill. It looked brand new, the previous owner either didn't use it much or was very careful with it in the field. My small game shotgun is a Remington 870 and over the years it has acquired a nick here or a scratch there from crossing fences and wading thru dense brambles.
Now for a location. At a family get together, I mentioned my plans to my niece's husband, Jimmy. Turns out that his family owns about 500 acres altogether here in Preble County. And after pinpointing the location, it turned out that I had been bass fishing and squirrel hunting there as a youngster. The acreage was less than a half mile from my father's farm where I was raised. So I was somewhat familiar with the layout of the land.
The big day arrived and we had to tramp thru some woods to get to where we intended to set up. It was decent sized woodlot. We went upwind of the lot and commenced walking thru it. I got about half way thru it and kicked up a young buck. It angled away from me and with the dense woods, it was gone before I could get a decent shot off. We went down to where we wanted to sit and wait. A friend of Jimmies had a stand there already. It was a choke point between two fields. We had agreed to stay there for the morning. Well Jimmy is younger than me and quite a bit more impatient. He didn't want to sit and wait, after just 30 minutes he wanted to go stalk the deer.
Either method is fine. Some folks will set up a blind or a stand and wait for the deer to come to them. Others prefer to stalk - going after the deer. In December, a little walking help keeps you warm, so I wasn't about to argue. We did not have much success that first day, or the next. We found rub's on tree's where a buck had marked his territory and tracks, but we only saw deer from a distance not within the range of a slug rifle. Which is accurate to about 100 yards due to the weight of the projectile.
Jimmy had remarked that he had gone deer hunting several times over the years, but hadn't yet gotten his first deer. And the outlook was getting bleak. We only had a few days and then the season officially ended. On the 4th day it had rained heavily the night before and Twin Creek was up - over it's banks in some places. The dampness masked our movements to a degree. The wet leaves did not crunch under our boots. And there a light fog which limited visibility. Finally the air was still which kept our scent from being carried very far. On our way to our hunting spot we saw a coyote, he saw us and scampered away before we think about getting close enough for a shot.
We were working our way slowly along the creek bottom when I spotted a set of deer tracks - fresh ones. Still very shiny - the mud was slick and wet at the edges of the print. I called softly to Jimmy and told him that we were close... keep an eye out. We both advanced slowly and cautiously. There was some movement to the left - the deer was breaking cover. Jimmy and I both wheeled around. Jimmy was able to knock it down, but it was behind a brush pile and still trying to get away. I had a better a angle was able to get off a fatal shot.
Finally I remembered to breath. It all happened so fast - I was out of air. It was an incredible sense of elation. It was the same emotion that you get from sacking a quarterback. 4 days of hunting and it all ended in a few short seconds. It was a few minutes before I could breath normally. We both exchanged high fives and I said a silent prayer for the deer and gave thanks that we were successful. It was the first deer for both of us. We then had the same thought at the same time - 50/50. It had been a team effort to bring down the deer. The meat was processed and we each took half, my family really enjoyed the summer sausage and the venison jerky in particular.
In a week or so I will be going deer hunting with my youngest son during the special youth season they have set up for youngsters only to go deer hunting now in Ohio. It will be fun to share the little bit of knowledge that I have gained with him. If nothing else it will be great to share nature and companionship for a weekend - just the two of us. And I will be crossing one more ‘some day' off of my list. Comments: email: Chris Tilton