Life is full of unexpected turns, but it's full of just as many opportunities. My family and I had some trials earlier this year, but the calendar doesn't allow you to hold on too long to those bad memories and so we found ourselves in the midst of hunting season yet again.

With tags left empty after archery season we faced the challenge of filling our tags with rifle in hand. Truth be told, I would rather have my old Rem 700 on my should than any bow of any variety in my hand. (I think my grandfather has a lot to do with that preference) We had a lot of chances and saw a lot of great buck all throughout archery season, but no one even got to draw back, which as I stated above, didn't bother me. 

Opening morning arrived with a very warm welcome and by that I mean I found myself in a t-shirt instead of a thermo. It was the warmest opening day and probably the warmest season I've ever hunted. Being a beanfield hunter, I rely on the movement of other hunters to keep the deer out and about, but with the warm weather most guys seemed to post up and hold tight. 

So as first light dawned and last light drifted silently away, I was a little worried about our season. Six hunters saw a total of six deer, had they not all been seen at once it might have been an interesting day, but no. All six were doe and we weren't taking doe this early on. Generally speaking we hear rifle reports all day long, but this day we heard maybe a grand total of seven or eight, not exactly exciting stuff, but thats why they call it hunting.

I'll go ahead and skip to Wednesday. 
My brothers and I found ourselves together in one of our hunting shanties just as daylight began to fade. I think my brothers and I probably a similar thought, "not today", but we remained optimistic. With about a half hour of daylight left a deer broke into view. We could tell instantly it was a buck, definitely not a monster buck like you see on the outdoor channel, but a legal buck that puts meat in the freezer. 

The buck fed about four hundred yards away at the edge of the woodline. None of us felt the need to take a shot that might push the limits of our own comfort, four hundred yards is a poke. Jr, (my older brother) and I were planning on what to do when the buck started to make life a little easier on us. Keeping the distance the same he began to feed down towards a brush pile, putting him right out in front. It was decided that I, would make the move.

I left the stand and made my movements at the instruction of Jr. (We've been hunting together forever) "Heads up" meant I needed to stop, "heads down", I was good to go and so with whispered instructions I slowly found my way to a little fence row in front of the hunting shanty. I cut the distance by eighty yards and to my delight the buck had done the same. I found an old gas pipe for a rest and laid my rifle across the top steadying myself. Swinging the rifle I located the buck in my scope, few sounds can get my blood pumping the way that Remington "click" does as I take the safety off, just as I have many times before. What was a once a steady target is now shakey and blurred. I try my best to control my emotions as I touch the trigger off, the buck stops and looks about. I knew I missed my mark, I readied another round only to have my excitement get the best of me, I double fed a bold action.... I know. 

I found a moment of clarity, a voice of reason, "Slow down", I'm sure it was my grandfather and it was something he had instructed me to do many times before on the rifle range growing up. I calmly pulled the extra round out from the chamber and dropped it at my feet, I held the other round down as I pushed the bolt into place seating the live shell that was meant to be loaded in the first place, until I fouled it up. 

Again I steadied myself and kept the "slow down" wisdom in mind. The crosshairs lined up on vitals and the rifle roared, I was rewarded with the "Thud" that only a bullet on buck can make. The buck dropped in his tracks.

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The first Saturday.

Saturday is usually the best day of the season after opening day, with my tag already filled, anticipation was high that my oldest brother, Levi, might fill his tag. At this point in the season we were looking for any legal deer that afforded us a good shot and took some empty space out of the freezer.

Levi is 24, but he has only been hunting for two years now. He was born with cerebral palsy so he has some struggles that I've never had to contend with. Aside from the physical handicaps he is skinny, again something I've never had to contend with. ::disgust:: So he never hunted when he was younger because the cold kept him inside and with his limitations he didn't want to just take part in the killing, being he wasn't able to do what Jr and I can. He is however a rifleman. He took to shooting very easily and listens to instruction incredibly well, I think in part because he truly cares about a humane kill. He hasn't been at this whole hunting thing long, but he has the makings of an excellent hunter.

Saturday morning was our coldest day of the season, but Levi met me before first light as we made way to the shanty, determined to hunt hard. A thick frost coated the entire landscape in a white hue that reminded me of the snow covered seasons of years past. To go along with our frost we were greeted with a dense fog that cut our visibility down to about eighty yards. From this stand we can see as far as a thousand yards. 

The morning passed us by, but the fog did not. It would clear up in spots then quickly fill back in. Early morning turned to mid morning as 11 o'clock rolled around. I was looking at my phone for a minute when I lifted my head to browse the expanse. Directly in front of us a doe was feeding at rough a hundred yards. I told Levi to get ready as I pointed the doe out to him. 

He Slowly raised the rifle and slid it onto the window ledge. The doe was causitious and kept her head up scanning for danger. Suddenly she bounded over the fence row was was headed right for us. She was spooky, but not busted. I tried to grunt her to a stop, but that only led her into a trot. I swiveled to allow a different window for Levi to shoot out of, but he remained still. I whispered "don't shoot", as I turned to see the doe stand about sixty yards away. An explosion irrupted just to my left as the doe collapsed in a pile. I turned to see levi with a giant grin on his face. It was an amazing moment and I'm proud to have been there with him.
Nocking the rust off.

I can't share the details of this hunt, but I can share a little. 

Levi doesn't have a rifle of his own yet, so he has been using Jr's, so I lent Jr a rifle I've had for a while. The rifle is a Sako forester with a Manlicher stalk. It's rifled in 243. Win, which just so happens to be the favorite round of us beanfield hunters here on the farm. The rifle belonged to my grandfather maybe 9 years ago, he had it for a long time. The last year that he owned it he killed a big cow doe with it for my family. The next year my Mom bought it to surprise my Dad on their anniversary. He had loved that rifle for a while, but couldn't get it away from my grandfather. My mom has charm though. :mrgreen: 

I remember like yesterday how it happened.
My mom got the rifle from my grandfather and snuck it into our gun cabinet. The cabinet has a glass door and a light to help wick away any moisture in the cabinet. She slid it right next to the various shotguns, 22s and other hunting rifles that called the cabinet home. To the naked eye nothing had changed, it melted right into the rest of the stalk, barrel, scope combinations. An hour or so later my Dad got home from work, we all watched in excitement. He walked through the door, took about five steps passed the cabinet, glanced at the safe and retraced his steps. In mere seconds he recognized the rifle in it's new place.

Unfortunately he was never able to hunt with that rifle and about a year later I inherited it. Fast forward to this season and Jr needed a rifle to hunt with. 

Jr's season was slow. The only legal deer seen being the buck I had taken when he was with me. He had already missed out on filling a tag last year and was hoping to break the trend. We got home from work and I told him he best head out unless he wants tag soup again. I stayed home and processes the deer we already had taken. About an hour later I got a phone call saying to come on out to the field and bring a knife.

That rifle hadn't been on a hunt in almost a decade, but the second it was pressed into duty it didn't let us down. It added a memory to it's already storied past.

Wow Johnny

What a great story! You should be a writer as well! I was just soooo intently reading this.......I couldnt wait to get to the next sentence. Great story! Great photos! Great writing! And so great of you to help others enjoy the great outdoors!

If you ever write a book I will be in line to buy it!!

Again.......What a great story!!

Thank you very much John, I appreciate you extremely kind words!

Well it sure looks like the freezer may have gotten full.  Are you hunting for 2 freezers now that Ethan has gotten married?


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