I was resting on my stiff cot during the night of Nov. 12, 2007, looking out the room’s lone window. At age 13, my first hunting trip in Nebraska had been short and sweet.
The day’s excitement began at 7:45 a.m., when I saw a deer standing near a chain of pine trees. I was unsure whether it was a buck or doe, a mule deer or whitetail, but my tag allowed me to harvest anything—so I was excited! As the curious deer took a step forward, I realized it was a mule deer buck! I cocked the hammer on my rifle, telling myself to remain calm. Then I aimed, and … boom!
The shot echoed through the wilderness. I saw the young buck drop and his legs fly upward as he tumbled a few feet down the slope. I quickly reloaded, just in case my initial shot hadn’t killed the deer, but thankfully, my first shot was fatal.
It was difficult to contain my excitement as I walked the 85 yards to the fallen buck. I no longer noticed the cold rain because my mind overflowed with emotion, warming me very quickly.
I called my mom, and she could hardly believe I’d harvested my deer so early during the first day. I was ecstatic, and Dad was just as excited.
It was back at the cabin, on the stiff cot, when I finally seemed to sort everything out: thoughts about getting my first deer, my dad’s pride, and also the thought of how proud my grandpa would be were he still living.
Most importantly, I now have my own story to tell when Dad’s hunting friends get together, and I can now participate rather than just listen to the amusing hunting stories that never seem to run out. My heart continues to overflow with happiness every time I think about that hunt.