Our first deer, never forget it

Chris Pulchny

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I hope everyone remembers that magic moment they harvested their first deer, Very clearly down to the very last detail. I’ll cover mine with you right here, you can laugh at some of it, and smile a little along the way.

The hunt actually begun three weeks before the primitive arms season opened. That is when I shot my first deer. The weeks prior to the primitive season I had been Bow hunting all over the property trying to kill my first deer but the chance had never occurred. However one of my stands was located just outside of a bedding area that took advantage of the early season south winds. Every morning that I hunted that stand a small forked horn would come out of the bedding area and come to a pond my stand was placed over. However the deer always came out and used the farthest trail from my stand to get to the water source. He was young but so was I; and my goal was to simply harvest my first deer. If he would have ever taken the trail I wanted him to he would have been inside of 15 yards however the trail he frequented was over 30 and well past my shooting ability at that time. Knowing what I know now I would have simply moved my stand but at 13 years old I just stuck it out.

The night before the primitive arms season opened my father and I sat going over gear and planning our spots to hunt he was going to hunt a large oak tree with a huge homemade wooden stand that you could see “forever” and lots of deer frequented the area. I told him I planned on hunting “the high ridge” nearly 3 miles from him. I had started finding large scrapes and rubs in the area that was mostly timber and expected my shots to be 20 yards or closer. And with the open sights on my T/C .54 caliber White Mountain carbine this would be ideal. We both woke early the next morning and watched the weather the wind had switched direction to blowing out of the north instead of the south like it had been for the past few weeks. My father with his coffee looked at me and said why don't you hunt near the pond where you have been seeing that buck you have been trying to shoot? He continued; it hasn't rained in weeks I’m sure he will still come to the pond. I thought about what he had said and agreed. I would set up “somewhere” around the pond. As daylight broke it was evident there was a thick fog. I couldn't see 20 yards. But as the sun rose the fog lifted. I had moved from my first spot already. I was now 105 yards from where the buck would stand and drink. A long shot for open sights and a nervous kid needless to say.

I looked at my watch it was about time for the young buck to appear. Then I heard what sounded like a tree being mulled by a “huge” buck leaves being scattered and pushed around. If I knew exactly what it was as I would now I probably would have lost all control of thinking. Then as I watched across the pond I could see a deer moving through some of the willow trees on its edge I then caught a glimpse of antler! It was the forked horn- it had to be! I steadied my gun across my knees and waited for the deer to clear the trees for a perfect shot. I never looked at his head again. Once broad side the open sights were glued behind his shoulder and the side lock hammer was on its way to the no. 11 percussion cap. Then smoke filled the air and all I could hear was water slashing. Once the smoke cleared I saw my buck swimming in the pond, and he wasn't the forked horn at all! I jumped up and attempted to reload the gun. In my haste I managed to break my wooden ram rod. I didn't know what to do. Then the buck started swimming the other way! He pulled himself from the water onto the bank and crashed through some willows. I was sure he was headed up the hill and I would never find him. At that moment a shot rang out from my dad's location about a mile away. I gathered all my gear and pretty much ran to the house opened the door and shouted that I had killed a deer without describing the deer at all. My little brother probably 6 years old at the time shouted “Chris killed a tern pointer!”

I then headed my dad's direction still about ¾ of a mile away. I got to within 500 yards of his stand and heard another shot I dropped to the ground thinking he was shooting at me! After a little time passed I stood up and a decent 8 pt. and a few does were only 20 yards from me. They headed back in the direction of my dad. I stood there motionless for a while, and then another shot rang out from his position now it seemed he had shot three time that morning. I slowly advanced his direction and got to within 20 yards of him as he was looking down the sights of his Hawkins rifle. He eventually turned his head and seen me there. We talked in a hushed tone and he said he had just shot a running 8 pt. and it fell in some thick cover south of his stand but was still alive I came over to him and he showed me the bucks head sticking up in the brush. He then looked at my gun and seen my broken ram rod and asked if that was me that shot right after daylight and I simply said yes. We climbed down and went to “finish”, his deer. It was the same 8 pt I had ran his direction! He then asked me what I shot at and I simply said, a buck, he then asked if I hit it and I said yes, he then asked if I had found it, to that one I had to say no.

He looked at my gun and tried to push the bullet down the barrel with his ram rod but I had put the “buffalo” bullet in crooked and it wouldn't budge so he reloaded his gun and told me to go find my deer. I had already taken him on to many trips to look for deer I had “hit” for him to walk the distance for no reason. He said he would field dress his deer then go get the truck load it and come help me if I needed it. We walked back to the house both smiling but dad had no clue why mine was so big; since I hadn't found the deer yet. I headed back to my spot and decided I better look where the buck was standing when I shot him. As I neared the spot, the willows started crashing and there my buck stood 10 feet away up to his chest in the water! I don't remember even shouldering the gun it just seemed to have gone off. I stood there as I watched the buck as he pumped steam from both of his lungs before he collapsed. That was the first real look I had got at my deer. And low and behold my little brother was right he was a 10 pt. and a good one at that! I headed home I arrived just as my dad pulled up with his baby of a buck in the bed of the truck I threw my hands in the air making huge antlers. His eyes were wide open. I ran inside to get my little brother and called my cousin down the street to see if he wanted to help. When we got to the deer I waded of into the water and raised my bucks’ head my dad's eyes grew nearly popping out of his head with it being bigger than any buck he had killed and it was only my first deer! Once the haul out; to the house was done and the deer was loaded next to my dad's he said that's why you were grinning huh? I could only smile more. We went to the check in station and registered our deer and then headed to the grandparents for more photos; and then to my mom's office since she was working that Saturday. Her office was doing a charitable event installing smoke detectors for elderly people who didn't have them. The paper was there interviewing them and then they begun taking pictures of us and our deer and the next week there we were front and center in the “outdoors” section. And that folks is the story of me killing my first deer he wasn't a true monster by no means barely scratches 125 inches but he still hangs on my wall and every time I give him a glance I remember why I love this sport so much!


Chris Pulchny's First Buck

Posted by Chris Pulchny under Field Journals on March 10, 10 06:56 AM | Permalink

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