My First Deer
By Cole Wimer
Before this last hunt, I was not what you would call an avid deer hunter. I had been a few times and had yet to kill, or even see, a deer. I was hunting on a 360-acre tract of land in the South Carolina Midlands, which was composed of hardwoods and pine interspersed with fields. It receives fairly heavy hunting pressure twice a week, every week, between August 15 and January 1. The good thing is that there are about 15 stands, each overlooking a field planted with clover and a feeder (legal in SC). Some people would criticize this as unsporting and it would be illegal in many states, but to me the unsporting thing to do is shoot every deer that walks within range.
Much like the past few years, I would arrive on a Friday and hunt Friday afternoon and the better part of the day Saturday. On Friday afternoon at 6:00, November 2, I saw my first deer while deer hunting. I was sitting up in a tower stand overlooking a feeder that was about 100 yards away and a small game trail where deer were thought to travel.
I was watching the feeder and surrounding clover fields when I heard footsteps. When I realized that a large (for that area) buck was making the noise, the adrenaline started pumping. I grabbed my .243 Ruger M77, its magazine full of 100 grain Federal Power-Shok factory loads, and looked out my blind's window to try to get my crosshairs behind the shoulder of the buck. The deer ended up being much closer to me than I had previously thought. I figured on him being about 50-60 yards out, which, because I was sitting 15 feet up in a stand, would have given me a near perfect shot. Instead, he was about 10 yards away, nearly under me. I could not get a shot because the height of the shooting window to the deer gave an impossible angle.
I panicked. I was freaking out, because this buck was standing so close to me I could have killed him with a pistol and I could not get the angle to shoot him. I did the only thing I could think of; I stood up, very slowly and quietly, mind you. The buck heard me and turned my way. I froze, very close to being ready for a shot. He looked away and I got the extra two inches I needed. When his head was turned, I stuck the barrel out and flipped off the safety. The deer panicked. He freaked out, because this guy was standing above him with a rifle. He ran, and he did it fast. I saw him stop about 100 yards away, but by that time there wasn't a clear shot.
I was mad, really mad, because I had just missed what may have been my only opportunity to kill a buck that weekend. I got in the truck and drove back to camp. Little did I know that, as the buck had come up, Calvin, the landowner, had been watching. I got back to camp and I caught hell all night for not taking that buck. Ah, the stories they told. I went to bed, dreaming of the six-point that should have been.
The next morning I went back to the same stand, hoping for a second chance that I didn't get. I returned to the cabin for lunch and then headed out at noon for another stand on the highlines. I sat for an hour and then left to check some of the other stands on the property. I drove around and looked at three different stands and, as I was heading back to camp, I crossed the highline one final time.
I looked to my right and out in a clearing about 250 yards away stood a forkhorn. I grabbed my rifle out of the gun rack, took a steady rest on the hood of the truck and switched my variable power scope from 6x to 9x. Just as I got my crosshairs aligned, he walked behind a patch of blackberries. I waited and waited and waited. He didn't move. About 20 yards away was the tree stand that I had sat in for an hour earlier. I decided that my only chance to kill this buck was to climb the stand, get him in my sight and shoot. I had to cross the road for 20 yards and I figured I would make a run for it. I did, and looked again for my buck. Still he stood.
I very quietly climbed the fifteen feet to the top. I stepped up on the top and looked out; my buck was still waiting to for his trip to D.H. (Deer Heaven). I got a steady rest, slipped off the safety and fired. I saw him jump and run a little bit, then stop. I figured it would only be sporting to fire a second round and I had put another shell in the chamber as soon as the first bullet had departed the barrel. I fired again and this time saw the bullet strike the bank behind the buck, low.
I decided to wait a while and then look for blood. Using my method of starting where I thought the hit had occurred and walking in concentric circles out from that point, I never found any. I decided that when I had switched from 6x to 9x, I had thrown my zero off. Depressed again, I drove back to camp. I figured that was the end of seeing deer for this trip, having seen a six-point and a forkhorn.
Turns out, I was wrong. Calvin decided that, since I was only 14 and had two bad experiences over the last 24 hours, we should go to his "special stand," and give it one last try. We climbed his stand that afternoon, my dashed hopes rejuvenated. We got settled, me looking out one window and he looking out another. He said deer usually walk out of the woods in view of the window where I was sitting, but that he would cover the other just in case.
I looked out of my window and he turned to look out of his. He took one quick look and nearly jumped out of his chair. He informed me that there was a deer outside of his window and that I was to swing my chair around and shoot it whenever I got a clear shot. I had to wait what seemed like an eternity for a clear shot, though it was only about 45 seconds. When she lifted her head, I put a 100 Grain Hot-Cor bullet through her shoulders. She was a 2-3 year old doe and weighed about 90 pounds on the hoof (not bad for that area).
I didn't care how big she was, all that mattered to me was that she was my first deer. I could not have been happier and while the dove hunting story that I wrote earlier was more action packed, this was fun in a much different way. Anyway, thanks for reading this story all the way to the end and happy hunting to you.
Copyright 2008 by Cole Wimer. All rights reserved.