Thursday, December 12, 2013

First Deer

Whew...  What a crazy day!

So, yesterday Jack and I took some practice shots with his deer rifle (which I had never shot before).  I felt like once I had practiced with the rifle, I was ready to start hunting!

I'm afraid of heights, and the deer stand is a little worrisome for me.  So I toyed around with the idea of going out the first couple of times in the late afternoon for the 'sunset' hunting window, so I could get used to going up and down the deer stand while there was light.  But in the end I just couldn't waste a morning, so I set my alarm clock to get up at 6:15am (sunrise is around 7:15am this time of year).

This was my first time deer hunting by myself, so last night I had a hard time getting to sleep.  Laying in bed, staring at the dark bedroom ceiling, I worried about all the improbable things that could go wrong.  The one that kept circling back was the worry that I would fall off the deer stand with a loaded gun, and somehow mange to shoot myself.  Darwin award, anybody?  I couldn't decide if I hoped there WOULD be deer, or to hope there WOULDN'T be deer on my first morning.

6:15am came around, and I bundled up in plenty of clothing.  Successfully managed to climb the deer stand with the heavy rifle.  Settled in to wait without fidgeting (which is hard for me - I always fidget).

And then, after about 30 minutes, out wanders a single buck.

When I s-l-o-w-l-y slipped on the ear proctors I could hear my own heart thundering in my ears.  I brought the rifle up and struggled to find the deer through the scope.  The deer slowly wandered into the middle of the field, and I finally found it in the scope.

Breathe out.... Now?  No.... he's walking again...............................

At the same time I pulled the trigger I reflexively squeezed my eyes shut, quickly looked again, and saw the deer somersault over backwards, take 2 steps, and go down.  At this point I was wheezing like I had just run a mile.

I sat there in the deer stand for a minute to get my breath back - I couldn't believe it!

I slowly climbed down from the deer stand and walked across the pasture to check the deer and make sure it was dead.  I had slipped a few extra bullets in my pocket that morning just in case my aim was bad.  Thank goodness they weren't necessary.

Cecil helping me hang the deer

I called a neighbor, Cecil, to help me get the deer hung up.  While I waited for him to come over, I tried to gut the deer.  The instructional video I had watched made it look so much easier....  I had my forearms completely immersed in the deer's chest cavity, couldn't see what I was doing, and was NOT having any luck pulling everything out.

Cecil arrived in the nick of time!  He suggested cutting open the rib cage so we could see what we were doing, which helped A LOT.  

After gutting the deer we used his trailer to drive the deer over to my house and hang it from 2 trees along the driveway.  The deer didn't look that heavy... at first we tried to just lift it up to the board.  We managed to get it to about the level of our knees.

I suggested tying the deer to a rope and using his truck to haul it up.  Cecil had a come-along wench thing that he used successfully to get the deer up.  There was NO WAY I could have ever gotten that deer hung up by myself.  

After the deer was hung up I could take my time skinning and de-boning the meat.  I piled it on baking sheets lined with towels and stuck it in the fridge to age.  Whew!

Wow.......  My first deer, on my very first morning out!  It just doesn't get any luckier than that.  :-)

Venison aging in the fridge

1 comment:

  1. I love how you can joyously describe shooting and gutting a deer without once mentioning how cute it was or how you thanked it for it's sacrifice. Educational and to the point. Cool.