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My First Hunting Harvest – Part 2 by Rudy Hassall

Opening day is finally here, and I was awakened by my alarm clock at 4:30am. I step outside, start loading my truck up to meet up with David. It is raining and near 75+ degrees already, I am sweating just loading the truck! So, I call Dave to tell him that I am on my way. He says, “Don’t bother, it’s raining and I am not hunting”. Well, I was not going to let the rain stop me. So I emptied my truck, went back in the house and stripped all of my clothing off down to my socks and Fruit of the Looms. Then, put the insulated coveralls on and headed out to the small strip of woods behind my house, where I had seen deer in the evenings.

I head the out the door and directly in front of me, not 10 yards is a nice 6 point buck staring at me. I had never seen a deer this close, let alone while hunting. I thought that I could be slick, nock an arrow and shoot him without even leaving my yard. Well, I got as far as nocking the arrow, he snorted and waved good-bye with his big fluffy white flag!

I continued into the small patch of woods behind my house, found a dead fall and stood on it. I did not have a treestand, as I am afraid of heights. You are thinking to yourself, but you said that David had a treestand for you. Yep, that I would have never climbed into, I would have stood at the base of that tree!

Shortly after first light, I felt something rubbing on my leg. I slowly turned my head downward to see a fawn eating some leaves off a sapling near the base of the tree. My heart started to pound, so loud that I swore the doe heard it. I was unaware of her presence until she started to circle me several times. They eventually walked off across the open field and disappeared. Then, I saw a deer trotting from the very same direction that the doe and fawn went to.

As the deer got closer, I could see that it was a buck! I now was experiencing “buck fever”! My heart was racing, pounding so hard, I could hardly hear and then the shakes kicked in. I let the buck quarter toward me at 20 yards, and then he turned to walk past me “not” offering me a shot. Being that I had never been in this situation before, I resorted to thoughts of cartoons for my stealth tips. This was Elmer Fudd to be exact. I was slowly tip-toeing behind trees, staying parallel to the buck and waiting for the perfect broadside shot opportunity. The buck and I did this for about 50 yards, and then he stopped, looked the opposite direction of where I was. This is when I stepped out from behind the tree, drew my bow back, and placed the pin on his vitals. And….released the string from my fingers and watched the perfectly placed arrow pass completely though that deer.

The buck only ran 15 yards to stop and look around. He immediately fell over and expired.

I was so excited, I didn’t know whether to yell, jump up and down or do anything. I went over to the deer and that’s when emotions started to come over me. I was excited as I did it on my own, it was opening day of the season, it was raining, it was near 80 degrees and this was my first harvest as a hunter. In addition to thinking all of those things, I could not stop inspecting the beautiful creature that I just harvested. I realized at that point, two very important things. First, that there is a HUGE responsibility on taking the life of a creature and that I was now was an addicted bowhunter for life.

Now that I have this deer on the ground, what do I do with it? I ran the half-mile back to my house yelling the whole way, “I got a deer, I got a deer, and I got a deer”! I was sweating like a “Spice Girl on Jeopardy” by the time I reached my house. I called David to tell him that I shot a buck. At first he didn’t believe me, but he could tell in my voice that I was not jerkin’ his chain. He said, “To gut the deer, bring it over to his house and that we could butcher it in his garage”. My immediate reply was, “Gut it”? What did he mean by that? He started to chuckle and provided me with the instructions over the phone.

I went back to the dear, gutted it “as I interpreted” David’s instructions and started to drag the deer back to my house. This I found to be a “labor of love” of a different sort, because this beautiful animal that I just harvested was not cooperating with me as I was dragging his limp body through the woods. When I arrived at home, I thought my work was done. WRONG… I now had to lift him into the back of my truck by myself. This was another educational piece of this new adventure.

After a short drive, I arrive at David’s house, he helps me unload the dear and hang it up on a gambrel in his garage. All of a sudden, he breaks out laughing. He then proceeds to tell and show me that gutting a deer means removing its guts and all internal organs! I had only removed the lower organs, to the hiney (pronounced “High-Knee”) and nothing above the diaphragm, as I had not even removed that.

The unfortunate part of this hunt is that I did not take any pictures of the hunt or the deer, as we do now after a successful hunt. But, I did take it to a taxidermist to have the deer mounted, the remainder of the hide I had tanned for my son. I did take a photo of the area that I hunted, the very next morning. One of the best benefits from this hunt was David and I became better friends. We hunted as much as we could and planning an elk hint with him in the near future.

We are still friends today and his daughter is twice the hunter that I am!

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Kevin Paulson

Kevin Paulson is the Founder and CEO of HuntingLife.com. His passion for Hunting began at the age of 5 hunting alongside of his father. Kevin has followed his dreams through outfitting, conservation work, videography and hunting trips around the world.

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