My First Deer Hunt
I have debated long and hard about putting this post up. And after much thought, because it was my first, I decided to put to post not only a tidbit about my hunt but also what led me to that place. Let me begin by saying I never thought I would hunt up until a year or so ago. It just rubbed me the wrong way, I greatly enjoy nature and wildlife and the thought of taking the life of something wild repulsed me. I strongly resisted my entire life ever keeping fish as well, and still to this day release 99% of what I catch. Further, I grew up with a father that hunted and several other friends and family members but it just never interested me. Then a few years ago I read a book entitled Eating Aliens, which changed my entire view on the nature of hunting.
In so many words I began to become disgusted with how our meat is produced. Disgusted by how the animals are treated and disgusted by how our meat is processed. Hunting began to look like a much more ethical choice. Is it more ethical to eat an animal that has had a wild and free life that can be quickly dispatched in a human method vs. how much of our meat is now commercially raised: knee deep in feces and in a severely confined space? Being raised an Iowan and spending my entire life driving by commercial pig lots and processing plants made the issue all the more poignant.
Therefore it has become a personal ethic of mine to replace a significant portion of the meat I eat with game I can collect myself. Not only can I help ensure the game is harvested in a more humane manner but I am also intimately aware and involved with how it is prepared. Further if I could havest game which was having a negative impact on the environment (more on this later); either through overpopulation or by being an invasive species, all the better. This leads me to my hunt. A deer quite honestly is perhaps one of the best and quickest ways to procure a substantive amount of meat. Not only that but throughout most of the country they range from plentiful to overpopulated.
The morning of the hunt was nerve-wracking. It was 10*F out, the 5th day of a 14 day season, and this would be my first time afield. Pressure was on and it was cold. I joined my cousin Tom and we hunted a friends' land just north of where I live. I was not going to be picky. My tag was for a doe and I had every intention of taking the first deer I could cleanly take a shot at. Remember I hunt for the meat, not for a trophy. I must admit that I had some beginners luck. I had my doe within an hour and a half of my first deer hunt. The second place we set up, we were overlooking a cornfield whilst hidden in a nearby patch of timber. It is only chance that I noticed an Owl fly overhead. Turning to watch it I saw a doe behind me approximately 65 yards away. The problem was I would have no support for my firearm in this direction. It was going to have to be offhand. Steadying my hand, at the end of my breath, I pulled the trigger and the doe was down exactly where she stood. One shot and no tracking required.
The resulting processing was a mixed emotion of sadness at having just taken a beautiful life and joy at having been successful and providing meat and therefore sustenance for myself. I hope I never, no matter how many hunts I may have in the future, lose that sense of sobriety and reverence for the life of an animal I have taken. What surprised me the most was the amount of time and work it took to fully get all the meat ready. As you can see this was not a large deer, in fact it was quite small but it still took a team of three several hours to fully complete the job and fill our freezer. The deer yielded approximately 30 lbs of meat, and being a novice I am sure next time I will be able to preserve and gain even more as my lack of experience surly limited my ability to harvest all the meat that was available.
Well that was my hunt. It was a roller coaster event and surely one which I will never forget.