The whitetail is a coveted creature looked upon with unequalled allure. Perhaps it’s the mystique that the whitetail embodies. Maybe it’s the sheer size of the animal that demands such respect among its many small game counterparts. Regardless, taking the life of a white-tailed deer is a blessing at any stage in the life of a hunter. But a hunter’s first deer—to put it simply—is a big deal.
My 13-year-old brother, Jake, killed his first deer in the opening moments of Minnesota’s firearm season last Saturday. He shot a dandy buck fawn at 40 yards with a 20 gauge, pump-action Mossberg 500 Super Bantam Slugster. It dropped in its tracks when he double-lunged it with all 250 grains of his 3-inch Hornady SST slug. Technical details aside, he was thrilled—and I’m still boiling over with pride.
We assigned our stands the evening prior. After reviewing the ScoutLook Scent Cone Wind Map forecast, the “Gorilla” stand on the north edge of our property was clearly the best option. Jake would get the Gorilla. I would sit in the newly built permanent stand situated on the southeast corner—the second best option. In the morning, he was to exit the woods on the backside of our farmyard and make his way across a large cut hayfield to reach the Gorilla.
In the early morning darkness, before exiting the woods to enter the field, he spotted two deer catching an early morning snack in the wide open. It was then that the hunter in him truly surfaced. He paused, stood still and held his ground in the tense moments leading up to legal shooting time. Finally, he fixed his sights on one of the deer. The moment of truth came and he delivered a flawless (offhand might I add) shot.
As tradition stands, under the stern instruction of our great uncle, Al, Jake bloodied his virgin hands in the guts of his first deer, and removed its skin. The next day, as a team, we butchered and packaged the delicious flesh to feast upon in the coming months. With every bite his stomach will warm, knowing that he is a deer hunter.