Long Range Hunting Online Magazine

My First Deer - Year 1973
The deer stopped, threw his head up towards us and I pulled the trigger. BOOM! The deer does a back flip and stumbles back into the clump of trees he had just came out of and falls to the ground. I chamber another round and keep him covered. My dad turns to me and with some concern and asks, "Where did you hit him?"

I proudly respond, "Dead center."

Dad: "Dead center the shoulder?"

Me: "No, sir. Dead center of the body. Halfway between the shoulders and the rear end, and halfway top to bottom. But it is behind the shoulders just like you told me."

At the time I didn't understand his shoulders slumping and the frown that came upon his face, although he tried not to show it, I saw the concern on his face. What I knew was my first deer was down and we could see it. I soon realized what the consequence of gut shooting a deer is. As I walked up to my deer with my dad, he was truly as excited for me as I was. It was a 3 1/2 year old, five point buck that was my finest trophy and still is.

We dragged the deer back over to the truck and I came to the stark realization of the concern my Dad showed earlier. As my Dad prepared the buck for gutting he looked me square into my eyes and told me to hold those back legs and donít let go. My dad had a bad gag reflex condition when it came to foul odors and between his gagging and the smell, I forever made it my goal to make my shot placement more concise in the future years.

I am now trying to pass on these traditions to my children and grandchildren. As I prepare to take my grandson hunting on youth weekend, I have been diligent in showing pictures of deer and pigs from different angles and discussing shot placement. We discuss angles and off side shoulders, what is in front of and in back of your target. I am sure at some point that one of my grandchildren will have a bad shot and will gut shoot an animal. I am certain that they will be standing there holding those back legs while I gut their prey, and thank goodness I did not inherit my dadís gag reflex condition to foul odors. I hope that doesn't change as I get older.

Harold Stephens has been hunting and fishing from a very young age. He has mainly hunted in the great state of Texas, except for one successful hunt in New Mexico for mule deer. Harold primarily hunts feral hogs and whitetail deer, but has had the opportunity to take a couple of Axis bucks and a Black Buck doe. Dove hunting rounds out his shotgun experience and plinking cans with a pistol keeps him occupied while sitting around camp.

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