How Hunting Changed Me For Good – Part Three

Welcome to part three of our dual-perspective hunting series. (Click here to read Part 1 & 2) 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.

Courtney – Part 3

Suddenly, despair turned into adrenaline when I heard Janessa whisper that there was a doe coming up the tree line on the left. She told me to get ready and I was stumped. The shot was going to be directly to my left and I had no room to set up without sticking the muzzle of the Savage 220 out the blind window. She was getting closer and I wasn’t even remotely ready. I never anticipated having a shot this direction. I can hear Janessa behind me telling me to get set up but not to move or the doe would see me and I am in a panic. This is it. This is the last shot I’ll get. It’s now or never.

She is 15 yards away now, and starts to turn into the woods. She doesn’t have far to go before she will catch our scent. I am still not set up. She starts to pass behind a group of close-growing trees and I see my chance. If I can’t see her, she can’t see me if I move into position. I jump on the chance and put the muzzle out the window, look through the scope and position my cross hairs on the side of the trees where she will come out. I can hear Janessa whispering to me but I can’t hear what she is saying. All my concentration is on the empty air where my deer should be. Then I see her, exactly where I thought she would be, and she sees me. She looks right at me and stomps her foot. It’s like time has stopped and my brain is taking pictures. I know it’s now or never and I pull the trigger.

The rest is a blur, I barely hear her run from the ringing in my ears and the beat of my own heart. I don’t even watch where she goes. I just turn around and melt into my chair. My whole body is trembling and I can’t form a though. Janessa starts asking me questions and I can’t answer any of them. I know the shot was good this time. I start coming back to my senses and we celebrate while we wait to start tracking her. As we wait, I start to psych myself out. What if I missed her? What if I wounded her? What if it was a bad shot and she doesn’t die right away?
By the time we get out of the blind, I am convinced that I missed. We start looking for blood. There’s nothing. I feel like I am going to be sick. Janessa keeps asking if I am sure of where the doe was when I shot her and I am less and less confident in my answers. I am devastated at the possibility of another miss or a bad shot. Janessa however is not worried. She is sure the shot was good this time, so we spread out to start walking the woods to see if we can find her.

It is dark by now and I can barely see Janessa’s orange 40 yards away. We start to walk and I strain my eyes for flecks of white, getting sicker with each step. Then something catches my eye, 10 yards to my right and I can’t believe it. It’s her. I call to Janessa but don’t get any closer. I pray that the doe is already dead and not suffering. Janessa gets to us and we determine it a job well done. I am an overwhelming mixture of relieved, proud and exact. My first deer. A great shot, double lung, and she only went about 30 yards from the blind.

Up until this point, I had been extremely worried about how I would feel about harvesting a deer. I thought I might cry, or not be able to field dress it. But when we found her, I was just very grateful for its sacrifice and I wanted to make sure that she was properly taken care of. Since it was dark, we got right down to business and started dragging her out of the woods to the edge of the field. We guessed her to be about two and a half and weighed 140 pounds. We loaded her into the truck and I jumped into the back. I have to admit, driving down the road with my deer I felt pretty darn proud of myself. The true test was next, could I dress out my kill on my own? I had decided that if I couldn’t, then I wasn’t fit to be a hunter so if I wasn’t able to go through with it, this would be my last hunt.

My first deer

My first deer

I will spare you the details and just say that I will be hunting again as soon as possible and I completely understand why people are so passionate about this sport. This was easily one of the top 5 coolest things I have ever done. The fact that I did it all myself, from shooting it to dressing it out, makes me proud and I feel honored to officially be a ‘hunter’. My gratitude for the time and effort that Janessa put into helping me cannot be put into words. I feel like the whole experience helped me grow and I will never forget it. It also lit a fire in me to help others experience that same feeling and help pass on the legacy of hunting.

Please share your hunting experiences with us!