For us, some of our most cherished memories are hunting related; not because of the size of the antlers on the whitetail bucks or being able to limit out on waterfowl but because we are able to enjoy this hobby/life style with amazing friends, family and clients.
I drive past the field I harvested my first whitetail buck in numerous times a month. Every time I am filled with excitement, pride and gratitude. It was one of the first times I had ever hunted with Aaron. I had hunted before with family but we always came up short and we ended up eating “tag soup”. I was very nervous that evening because not only did I need to fill a freezer, I did want to impress Aaron with my hunting prowess.
It was early November and we set up our hunting blind on a hill looking out over the field toward a row of trees where we knew the deer were crossing and where I could make a safe and ethical shot. We waited patiently; trying to stay quiet and warm. My heart was beating so fast and so hard that I thought it would beat out of my chest –I thought maybe even the deer could hear it. As it got closer to legal time, my heart sank; I figured that that was it, that there would be no deer that night. I still kept willing the deer to cross. Then we spotted then him. Aaron ranged the distance and gave me a whispered talk of encouragement and I checked my scope settings. I lined up my shot and tried to calm my breathing and steady the .270 Browning X-Bolt through the window of the blind. Aaron said, “Just let me know when you are going to take the shot.” I heard him, but I unfortunately I forgot to warn him. To his surprise I squeezed the trigger and the rifle roared causing Aaron’s ears to ring.
I was happy but at the same time I was worried; doubting myself…Was he hit?… Was it a clean kill? I know that I never would have pulled that trigger if I knew I was going to make a ‘bad shot.’ I wanted the meat and the horns but I didn’t want them bad enough if it meant I would have to act in an inhumane manner. One of my greatest fears as a hunter is causing an animal to suffer. We heard the ‘WHAP’ sound so I knew he was hit but the deer made it a couple yards toward the trees and I couldn’t see where he piled up. We waited a bit; made the gun safe, collapsed the blind, cleaned up our area and headed to the truck. I was beating myself up the whole time –it seemed like we waited an eternity. We drove down to where we thought he would be. I was looking out the passenger side to see if he was in the bush and Aaron looked out the driver’s side. We went over the whole ordeal. Where did you aim? How high/low were you aiming? Were you inhaling or exhaling when shooting? How did the deer react? THEN –Aaron spotted him; folded up with a red spot behind his front leg…lung shot. Relief washed over me that I had made a clean kill. Aaron was so proud of me…I remember the smile on his face and the congratulatory “Well done, sweetie.” I was beaming and shaking as we put the tag on him. It was a big bodied deer, loading him into the truck was fun for the two of us; it took all the strength I had.
Aaron and his hunting buddies have a tradition of going to one of their buddy’s house for the dressing, hanging and then processing their deer and of course sharing the epic hunting stories. It was like a rite of passage for me; to join these seasoned hunters. I didn’t shy away from the work that followed. I was in there like a dirty shirt. I like to think that that was the night that Aaron decided I was a keeper haha I know his buddies were impressed…don’t think they had seen too many ladies in the garage elbows deep in a deer.
Since it was my first whitetail deer I got a European mount done by Quinn Dorchester at Westerose Wilderness Taxidermy and it proudly hangs next to my first mule deer from Hardisty in our living room.