Long Range Hunting Online Magazine

My First Deer - Year 1973

My First Deer – Year 1973

By Harold Stephens

I am 51 years old and I can remember that weekend as if it happened yesterday. It was one of those days when you’re young, you feel like you're immortal and nothing in the world is wrong. I was 13 yrs old. It was 1973 and deer season. I was in camp with my dad and his friends and their children.

Camp consisted of a cook shack with cedar posts as corners, reclaimed 2-by's for framing and old tin each member could scrounge over the years. The kitchen was used cabinets from an old house and the sink drain plumbed to outside, kerosene lanterns and 12 volt electric lights illuminated the inside. The heater was an old pot belly stove. Our main luxury at the camp was the butane refrigerator that my dad took in as trade on some side work. We carried water up each weekend in Igloo water coolers that were used all week long on the construction site. The bathroom was any tree nearby and an old cane bottom chair, minus the cane bottom and the pointed nose shovel by the door of the cook shack with the TP on the handle. Our sleeping quarters were an old green canvas army tent and cots. If you got cold you pulled over another blanket or just shivered all night. Outside the cook shack was the fire ring that was used for all meals except breakfast and the storytelling sessions when not out hunting.

I can still see in my mind the tree stand my dad and I hunted from, nothing fancy or expensive or protected from Mother Nature for that matter. Our shooting position was a couple of 2 x 6's nailed up in the upper branches of the tree and 2 x 4's nailed to the trunk for the ladder up. In the morning your rear end got wet as the ice and frost from the night before melted underneath you. The wind felt like it was cutting right through you and at that time no one even thought about safety harnesses, so there was the occasional pucker factor as your tree swayed. The thing about it though, I thought I was in heaven in those days. Today I would give anything to set in a stand with my dad, just to see his smiling eyes and his concentration trying to find that deer so I could become the hunter he wanted me to be.

On this day it was a Saturday evening hunt. It had been the perfect day since before sunup. The morning hunt: watching the sun rise, and the world coming alive. This is still my favorite time to hunt. I love seeing the world awaken before me and guess what the strange noises from the brush and surrounding trees are. After the morning hunt, I waited for camp breakfast of scrambled eggs, biscuits and milk. There is nothing like deer camp food no matter where you are in the world. Then came the wondrous midday exploring of the surrounding woods with the other camp kids and the excitement of readying for the evening hunt.

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