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On My Own

Jack Neil

St.George, South Carolina

Since my first time hunting with my dad, I had always wanted a gun of my own but there was always some reason why I couldn't have one. He used to tell me that I was too little and that I was too young. Finally, on my 12th birthday, I got my gun. It was a beautiful, 20 gauge, Browning BPS. I begged my dad to take me hunting that very day, but again, I got another excuse.

I really don't know if on that very day I would have had the nerve to pull that trigger, but two weeks later I did. My dad refused to let me sit in my stand by myself, saying that I was still a little kid, so he decided to sit with me with his gun, too. It was my second time hunting, and I thought I was already an experienced hunter. After sitting in the stand for about one hour, we heard a deer coming out, grunting. Dad told me it sounded like a buck, so he told me to get ready to shoot. At this point I felt like a warrior going into battle. I WAS NERVOUS!

As that deer stepped out fromthe cover of the thick woods, I still was thinking that it was a doe. My dad glassed him with his binoculars and discovered that he was in fact, a buck. As I pulled my gun up into shooting position, I became more and more nervous. I was glad my dad was there to share the excitement of this moment, yet I wished that I had been doing it on my own. As the shot rang out the deer was gone. I thought I had hit him but I guess not. We searched hours into the night to no avail. He was never found.

After a couple more weeks, my dad got tired of spending all of his quality hunting time in my stand with me shooting. He decided it was time for me to become an independent hunter: Out On My Own. My first time out on my own was a learning experience. As I recall, I didn't see anything, but I really didn't expect to. The mosquitoes were so bad that I spent the whole time spraying insect repellant all over and around my stand and me. Any deer with any sense would stay in deep cover with this mask of smell that I had created.

Over the next couple hunts, I learned a lot more about nature and myself. The world began to come alive to me and I finally saw what life was really about: hunting. I learned how to sit still and I learned how to "work the woods." I began to see more and more deer daily, yet I never saw any bucks. It was as if they were illuding me.

Since my first time hunting, my dad had stood strong in his belief of following as the law says. He wouldn't let me shoot at does or at any animals that were uncertainly deer. After three years of hunting, I have now decided on not to shoot at does or immature bucks and to wait untill I was damn sure of what it is I'm shooting at. After taking a considerable amount of small bucks I won't shoot at those anymore either.

the getaway

Finally, after a good two months of steady hunting, I got what I had been hunting for. I put out Keller's Doe in Heat gel in front of my stand and climbed up to sit out another three hours. I seldomly looked behind my stand since it was an impossible shot, but something made me look there this one time. As I turned for a quick glance, something caught my eye. There was a small planted pine swaying violently from side to side. After considering all possible scenarios I decided that it had to be a buck. I figured that he must be going for my doe in heat gel, so I turned, left-handed, over my shoulder, to prepare for the kill.

He did just as I had imagined him doing, and walked right into my sites. This time by myself, I had no one to share the adrenaline rush with. I knew my dad would hear my shot and come running, but I first had to make the shot. I steadied myself, calmed my nerves, and clicked off safety. As I squeezed the trigger, my arm pulled away and I pulled my shot a good foot.

He hit the ground and immediately jumped and ran off. I knew that there was no way that I had missed, him being just ten yards away, so I started searching for him. My dad soon joined me in the hunt, but again, to no avail. We considered going and asking the local dog club for some assistance, but dad quickly reconsidered. He wanted no ties with them.

The next morning we returned. Dad was going to just give up, but I wouldn't let him. At that point, I still thought that he was a monster buck. I climbed up into my stand as dad insisted, and told him the direction in which the deer had ran. He found a major blood trail right there, and began walking it. Not fifteen seconds after he had started, he had already stopped and started calling for me to come quick. There, laying before me, was at the time the biggest buck that I had ever seen. A nice, not yet mature, eight point buck.

The day had finally come. I was independent, capable of taking care of myself. Anything I wanted to do was within my grasp. There was no limit to my success. Nothing could stop me. I was, finally, out on my own.

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