by Mike Mitchell
(Houston County, MN)
I grew up in the southeast corner of Minnesota, down near the Mississippi River. Through my early childhood I would revel in talking to grown ups about any deer experience they had throughout their lives.
When I was nine years old my father told me I could go deer hunting with him, so I would sit and watch him hunt.
2 years later I was 11 and old enough to youth hunt for any one deer.
I was so excited as summer leaves deteriorated to their fall outfit, because I knew that my time was near.
There was only one setback, earlier in the year I had been put on crutches because of a crack in knee that refused to heal. So I knew that deer hunting would be tough.
I used my crutches every day so I was becoming quite good.
When deer season came, I put on my blaze orange and grabbed my crutches and off we went.
Now, in the beginning of the season, I was hopelessly disappointed, the hope of shooting my first deer was strong, but the effort it took to climb up steep MN hills, crossing logs, and getting my crutch stuck in mud, made it a daunting experience.
Finally the last day, and afternoon hunt came, I had accepted a lost year. But I crutched up an old logging road, sat down on my stool and waited.
After an hour my father whispered for me to scan the top skyline of the hill, and there I saw 3 deer heads sticking over the top.
For about 20 minutes they hesitated, then finally came trotting down.
When one got close enough I raised my single shot 20 gage to my shoulder.
I cocked back the hammer and tried to contain my nerves. I remember the barrel practically swinging as I tried to get steady.
When one of the deer got to a whopping 15 feet away, I knew it was time.
I had a perfect second of steadiness, and pulled the trigger.
With the impact, the deer dropped.
The bullet was true, and the deer’s was double lunged, as well as a heart nick.
All I remember was me saying, “Dad, should I shoot it again”.
Which there was no need for.
That was my first deer, and hardest earned one.
The memory of that hunt, and the pride I felt as I showed my brother has traveled with me my whole life.
I’ve shot many deer since, but none compare to that first hunt.
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