Growing up in the good old country town of Mt. Bethel tends to give people a specific characterization – a country loving, cow tipping, redneck. The town consists of open fields, farms, tractors and farm animals; you won’t see too many wild animals running around because they are already all mounted on people’s walls. The first day of hunting season was always the talk of the town and roughly 50 percent of students would always be out in the woods that day. When walking through the halls at my school you would see flannel shirts, work boots, and john deer attire everywhere. It was your typical hick town and everyone knew each other. I grew up a typical country girl, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
I picked up my first rifle when I was eight years old, and I have been hooked every since. Every year I got out hunting hoping and praying that a big buck will head my way, but so far it has been nothing but little bucks and does. Don’t get me wrong, deer meat is deer meat, and I love jerky! But my dream is to get that one that I can be proud to mount on my wall. To me, that would be an amazing accomplishment as a hunter.
Although I have yet to get my wall hanger, I still remember my first hunting experience like it was yesterday.
It was the first day of deer season and I went hunting with my dad. I was nine years old and nervous as anything! It was 3am when my dad told me that it was time to get up. We went downstairs, put on all our camo gear, had a cup of hot chocolate and hit the road.
When we finally got to the spot we both made sure that the gun was loaded up and ready to go, safety on of course! We then started walking into the woods were my dad had already set up a blind for us to sit in. It was freezing; but my adrenalin was the only thing keeping me warm. I tried to be as quiet as possible by touching absolutely nothing and making sure I did not say a word.
After about ten minutes of walking in the dark, cold, lifeless woods we found the blind. We slowly sat down, got comfortable and then started to wait. Since this was my first time hunting I extremely anxious. Every noise or sound I heard I honestly thought it was a deer. I would get all tense and my heart would begin to race, and then I normally saw a squirrel or bird sitting on a tree branch, boy did that trick me more than a dozen times!
The sun starting streaming through the trees around 6:30am and there was still no sign of any deer, we saw a lot of squirrels, rabbits and turkeys but no deer. At one point I looked at my dad puzzled, wondering where are the deer! He softly whispered, “You have to be patient.” Patience was not a strong point of mine, but I tried relaxing and just enjoying the experience. I was also singing random songs in my head to keep myself sane, thinking it would make the time go by fast.
It was around 10am and my toes were completely numb, the cold was really starting to get to me. My dad looked at me and said, “Do you want to go or wait a little bit longer?” Thinking for a minute, I came to the conclusion that I have been sitting out in the freezing cold for hours so I might as well stick it out a little longer. My answer was yes, and thank god it was because 20 minutes later we had a few visitors.
All I can remember is seeing three deer strutting by the blind about 15 yards away. I pulled the gun up into a rest and slowly released the safety. I started looking through the sight and was tracking the last deer for a little while. Suddenly, the deer that I was tracking stopped dead, right in-between two broad trees, the shoulder was smack-dab in the middle. It literally looked identical to the practice target I have set up in my backyard that I use, the deer was perfectly placed. So I started breathing deeper and put the bead right behind the shoulder of the deer and right before I pulled the trigger I whispered to my dad, “Should I shoot?” He said with no hesitation, “YES!” I pulled the trigger and out roared this load bang!! I saw the deer’s hind legs jump up in the air and it took off running. The deer did not run more than 40 yards and it went down! I shot my first deer! I did not know what to do with myself; I wasn’t sure if I could talk or if I still had to whisper. My dad looked at me with a big grin and said, “Nice shot, let’s wait a few minutes than go get it.”
A couple minutes went by, it felt like an eternity but we finally head on over to get my deer. The deer was lying on the ground lifeless and blood was scattered everywhere. I hit it right behind the shoulder just like it set up for, perfect shot! I didn’t even realize it when I was hunting, but the deer was a buck. It was a small, but nice six pointer. My first deer and it’s a buck! I was an extremely happy girl and could not wait to go home to tell my mom and all of my friends at school. That was one of the best memories I have ever had hunting and I cannot wait to go out this weekend in hopes of getting my wall hanger!
Happy hunting to my fellow hunter’s out there! As Ted Nugent would say, “I’m cocked, locked and ready to rock doc!” You should be too, because I know I am!