How Hunting Changed Me For Good – Part Two

Welcome to part two of our dual-perspective hunting series. (Click here to read Part 1) I will be writing from the perspective of a new hunter and student, and my co-worker will be writing from the stand point of the experienced hunter and teacher. We will both be writing about similar aspects of the hunt and how that particular part of the hunting experience affected us. We hope to highlight some of the major differences between seasoned hunters and those new to the sport, so that everyone has a new and exciting look into how different, yet how similar, hunting experiences will be.

Becoming a hunter

Becoming a hunter

Courtney – Part 2
Opening day. My alarm was set to go off at 4:30 but I was already up and half dressed. I was like a kid on Christmas and couldn’t wait to get out into the blind. I pulled in to Janessa’s at 5:15 and she explained to me how we would approach the blind that morning. She showed me how to check the wind and what other factors she used to determine our approach and we headed out. I really didn’t know what to expect so I just followed her lead. We cut across the front field and crossed a fence, and started the slow, start-stop walk down the tree line to our blind. Once inside and set up, we loaded our guns and Janessa gave me pointers and walked me through scenarios for the first few minutes. Then we broke out the Pop-Tarts and settled in. We sat, and sat. And all we saw was a baby raccoon. I officially got skunked on my first day of gun season.
I started thinking maybe I was bad luck but Janessa wouldn’t hear it. We decided to go back out on Wednesday afternoon because Janessa was pretty sure the deer would be feeding in the evening and the weather would be in our favor, too.

I tried not to get too excited since our last outing was a bust, but it’s pretty hard not to be. We made the same trek to the blind but this time it was 2:00 in the afternoon. It’s kind of odd to “sneak” into your blind in broad daylight wearing bright orange but we did the same slow stop-go walk all the way out. We got situated and Janessa even found me a ‘shooting stick’ – just a broken branch that had a Y in it – and we went over my shooting options again as she talked about where the deer were likely to show up. It took a few tries to feel comfortable with my shooting positions and to figure out how to maneuver inside the small space, but I eventually worked it out. Then, we waited. I got on Facebook and Janessa read a magazine and wouldn’t you know it, two does appeared, seemingly out of thin air about 125 yards across the field.

This was my first real experience seeing deer in the wild that I could potentially harvest. It. Was. Awesome. Even though they were past a comfortable shooting distance for me, it was incredibly exciting to get to experience natures little ninjas that way. The does were barely out of the wood line and melted back into the forest pretty quickly. I was so happy to finally not get skunked that I didn’t even care if we didn’t see any more deer that day. After more talking and strategizing, we went back to waiting and at 3:15, I look up to see another doe that seemingly materialized out of nowhere. She was about 40 yards away in the corner of the field but in Janessa’s blind spot so she couldn’t help much. I got set up and held on her for what seemed like ages, waiting for a shot that felt right. I was terrified of messing up or taking a bad shot so I waited a while. When I finally pulled the trigger, I was shaking like a leaf in a hurricane.

My view from the blind

My view from the blind

After some hi-fiving and some discussion about where the deer had been standing (since Janessa couldn’t see) we went to look for blood. There was nothing. I started to panic. Did I miss the perfect shot? Did I wound it? What happened? How could I miss? Janessa was verbally walking me through the shot again and she asked me if I thought maybe I picked my head up early on the shot, and as soon as she said that my heart sank. I knew without a doubt that that’s what had happened. I picked up my head and shot low, completely missing my target. A part of me was happy that I missed completely and didn’t injure the animal, but the other part of me was furious at myself. I couldn’t stop cursing myself as we got back into the blind. I was certain that I had missed the only shot I would get that day and maybe even that season. I had fired a shot and we had been out in the middle of the field looking for blood for twenty minutes. There was no way we would get another shot today. We decided to wait anyway and about ten minutes later heard a few shots from the neighbor. I am still convinced that her neighbor shot my deer. So, still fuming about my miss, the neighbor shooting ‘my’ deer and the fact that there were just 3 shots in less than 45 minutes, I was resigned to the fact that I totally just blew my first hunting experience.

The odds were deceivingly in our favor however, when another group of does showed up about 100 yards down the tree line. I got set up and watched them through the Nikon scope. They were pretty far away and at an awkward angle for me, and I was still bothered by my earlier miss. Three more does came in from the right as I was watching the first group about 40-50 yards away and they kept quartering perfectly but I couldn’t bring myself to take the shot because it was almost exactly the same spot that I missed before. Janessa kept telling me the shots I had available and I could tell she was getting a little frustrated as I passed on shot after shot. We watched as the group slowly moved further and further away, until they were out of range.

As soon as I knew they were all too far away, I started to beat myself up again. All those shots that people would kill for, I had given up and we only had a little bit of daylight left. The odds of having any more shots that day were slim to none. I could tell Janessa was disappointed and I was too. What a terrible first experience story. I had let Janessa and myself down. I was pretty miserable.

And then….