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52 Godly Men : Men of Today Teaching the Men of Tomorrow » My Journey » Week 38: Poor Little Bambi

Week 38: Poor Little Bambi

Ed and the MeatBefore this summer and fall, I had always loved deer. In my eyes, they were graceful, beautiful animals that would glide and bound through thickets, capturing your joy as they went. They were cute and sweet and cuddly, with all of their heart-warming ways (and no, I’ve never watched Disney’s™ Bambi, so don’t even go there). But now I see them in a different light. I still like deer, but they now strike me as lovely, springing, future ten-ounce steaks. I think part of me changed in that aspect when a doe ate my family’s entire bed of sweet potatoes. But mainly, I contribute my attitude switch to the hunting trip I took with my Uncle Ed McGee this weekend. And before you send me a nasty e-mail about this, just try some of the venison in a stew or something.

Just as a side note; I’m probably going to get a few e-mails about this article from animal-loving girls saying, “You killed Bambi! How dare you, cruel heartless hunter!” Let me clarify. I did not kill Bambi. I killed Bambi’s dad, and I’m going to eat him pretty soon too, so live with it.

I won’t start out telling you all that happened and then say, “But let me give you some background first.” Instead, I’ll begin at the beginning- a week in advance to be exact. In order for me to be able to go on this hunting trip, I had to take and pass a hunting safety course. I first took the online version of the training program just to get the material stuck in my head. Then, last Saturday, I attended the hunter education course in Tiftonia, which is below Chattanooga. I participated in a class that basically went over everything I had learned in the online course. Then, at the end, I had to take a quiz. If you scored a 75 or above, good job; you get your “license to kill.” Thankfully, I passed with a 95, and my hunting day was assured.

EdMom drove me out to Uncle Ed’s place on Friday night, so we could hunt on Saturday, which was Juvenile Hunting Weekend. I made sure to get plenty of sleep, because I knew I’d be waking up very early the next morning. How early? How ’bout 4:45? Uncle Ed and I dressed, got our things together, and left the house by around five. Uncle Ed’s cousin, whose farm was the one we’d be hunting on, lived a couple of hours away, and we arrived on his place a bit before seven. It was still dark, so we followed the reflectors that we’d set up a few weeks in advance, all the way to the tree stand where I would be hunting. Uncle Ed brought up my gun and thermos for me, and then left me by myself. Sunrise would come around a quarter after seven, so I just leaned forward and rested until then. When the sun did start to gradually light up the forest, it was an amazing sight. The shadows were slowly dissipating into light, and a lot of the trees on the horizon were becoming visible. I admired the scenery a bit, but I tried to keep an eye on what might be the slightest possibility of a deer.

After about half an hour, I slipped into sort of a pattern. I would scan the woods in front of me, check right, check left, and then make sure nothing was sneaking up on me from the rear. I did this for another half hour or so, and then I saw it. It was what appeared to be a young doe, about twenty yards off. It was peacefully browsing on the underbrush, unaware of me. I slowly brought my gun up, but not slow enough. It saw my movement and stared right at me. I froze. After a few seconds, the deer resumed its meal. I painstakingly raised the muzzle of the gun, and again it spotted me. However, it was a young deer, and it didn’t recognize danger. Once again, it continued eating. Finally, by positioning myself in the tree stand so my body was behind a tree, I was able to draw a bead on the animal without it noticing my presence any more. I brought its shoulder into my scope, held it there, and meticulously tightened my hand on the trigger. The gun didn’t even seem to me like it kicked at all when it went off; all I noticed was the deer hobbling off for a few hundred feet, obviously wounded, and then finally coming to a rest. Success! After all the preparation and work and study, I had killed my first deer!

I remembered what Uncle Ed had said, though, about how there may be other deer that will come and investigate their dead comrade, so I stayed put. When I had made pretty sure that there were no other deer around at that time, I radioed Uncle Ed and told him what had happened, because he’d heard my shot and wanted to know what had happened. I told him that I had killed a deer, although it looked pretty small. He congratulated me, and told me to stay where I was. He said that it would almost be the time of day where the deer would start to come from the meadow into the forest, and it would be a good time to get my other two allotted deer.

Well, I sat in the stand for almost another 45 minutes, just admiring nature. I saw a red-tailed hawk light on a branch about ten yards from my own perch. I watched the squirrels frolic and romp in the undergrowth (which was actually very annoying because to my untrained ear, they sounded just like a deer approaching). But I didn’t see a single deer. I was on one hand elated that I had killed my first deer, but on the other hand still yearning for another one to take a shot at. However, since I hadn’t seen anything in almost an hour, I went ahead and radioed Uncle Ed to come on up from camp and take a look at my deer. He came up, but when he was about twenty yards away from the tree stand, I saw a flash of brown about 75 yards up the hill in the woods. I immediately brought the gun up and tried to find the deer in the scope. But it was behind a large clump of trees and thicket that was blocking my line of vision, so I just waited. Uncle Ed, as soon as he saw me morph into hunter mode, just hunkered down right where he was. Finally, the deer walked out from behind the big clump, and I could see him clearly. I got a decent bead on him, squeezed the trigger, and…nothing happened. Oh-duh. I took the gun off safety, rescoped, and slowly pulled the trigger. The roar of the gun filled the silence, and the deer dropped. But he was still kicking, and finally regained his feet. Uncle Ed was yelling, “Put another bullet in!” I thought he wanted me to shoot the deer again, because it was still hobbling, but then I realized that he meant to get another bullet in the chamber.

My Spike BuckI quickly reloaded, and fired a second time. This time, the deer dropped and didn’t move. Success again! There was another one right behind it, but it ran off at my second shot. Uncle Ed had elation written all over his face, and I could tell that he was excited by me killing two deer my first day hunting. I climbed down from the tree stand (lowering the unloaded gun on a rope first, of course), and we took a look at the deer. My first one was a little button buck–so named because its horns look like buttons on its head. It weighed about 40 pounds, which isn’t that impressive in and of itself, but button bucks carry some really tender and tasty meat, so I was well satisfied with my prize. We then inspected my other deer. I had originally thought that it was a doe, but after seeing the spikes on its head, we discovered that it was a buck. It weighed 110 pounds on the hoof (without gutting or dressing), which is not a bad kill at all, especially for opening day.
My Two Deer
Once we had finished scrutinizing the deer, we carried them down to the truck. Uncle Ed hooked me up to a couple of straps so I could pack-mule the deer down the hill without slinging it over my shoulder, and they worked like a charm. The Hanging BuckOnce I got out of the woods (heh, heh) and into the field, Uncle Ed gave me a hand dragging it, and we hydroplaned down to the truck easily. After loading the truck up, we bumped and rocked back to camp, where Uncle Ed field dressed the deer. It was not a pretty sight. I won’t give you every single gruesome detail, but it was a fascinatingly grisly process. Uncle Ed basically used his ungloved hands to scoop out the insides, and then let the blood drain out by hanging the deer for a while. However, he couldn’t leave them outside too long, because it was pretty warm, and the meat would spoil if he just let the deer stay there.

Me and my TrophyWe left the farm at about twelve after eating some lunch.  After dropping off the bigger of the two deer at the processor, we arrived at Uncle Ed’s house. He then proceeded to take off the main cuts of meat from the smaller buck and sent it inside with my Aunt to be washed and packed. When that was over with, Mom and I got our things together and left. My weekend with Uncle Ed had been a flurry of excitement, perfectly mixed with peaceful interludes. I saw some beautiful flora and fauna, and I was able to take some of that fauna home with me as well. My nerves were tested, as were my shooting skills and my presence of mind. But if you put all of that together, you get what I got–a jam-packed, paradisaical weekend that was the highlight of my month. And I now have two of the cute, sweet deer that I used to think of as cuddly about to show up at my house in packages. So I’d like to write more, but I have some venison to eat. Happy hunting!

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One Response to "Week 38: Poor Little Bambi"

  1. Jim Golden says:

    Awesome Job David! Congratulations!!

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