It’s Not Always About Tagging Out

Kentucky deer season of 2015 started out with excitement for me. I was still new with a compound bow so I was waiting for modern gun season to start. That first morning, there I am. Getting up at 4:30 that morning so and excited and getting my gear on in a hurry. I go and grab my gun of choice, my AR 15 (.223). I grab that magazine shove it in and pull the charging handle back to chamber a round and making sure it’s on safe. I put that rifle sling over my shoulder and walk out my front door. I walk around behind my house and start walking straight up a mountain in the dark. I make my way to a huge pine tree about 150 yards from my house. I take off my backpack and rifle off my shoulder and sit down at the base of this huge tree. I place my backpack beside me and my rifle in my lap at the ready so all I had to do was place my rifle in the pocket and against my check and flip the safety on fire, then aim and shoot.
There I sat, ready to go. watching the world come alive. You hear a noise and freeze thinking a heard of deer is coming your way but then realize it’s a squirrel making his way around you to find something to eat and climb the trees. Finally, I see something out of the corner of my eye, slowly turning my head I realize a deer is headed my way. Now in my zone in Kentucky on opening modern firearms season, it is antlered only. So, I have to make sure that what is coming my way is a buck. Also for me, I want to make sure it’s a mature buck. I want to hunt my property for years to come, so I want to make sure that all the younger bucks live a little and spread their seed. As the deer is coming up the hill straight for me, I realize he is a young spike buck. So, he will be a pass for sure. At 30 yards from me he stops, looks down the mountain behind him. I notice some movement down the mountain. It’s another deer down there. Now, my heart is really starting to pick up, we are in full rut here and this other deer would probably be another buck. The young buck walks on up towards me and walks within 5 feet of me to my left and on up the mountain behind me. The deer down the mountain comes the same path the young buck took. There it is, I see it. He has a rack! My heart is beating even faster. He is getting closer so I start easing my rifle up into the proper position. I have a Luepold 4X12X40 that I’m looking through. I see his rack and realize he is a mature 6 point buck. He has a big body and his rack is wide. In Kentucky, that’s a nice buck, so he is a shooter. His pace is a fast walk and you can tell he isn’t happy because this young buck is in his territory. He finally stops about the same place as the younger buck had stopped initially. Around 30 yards from me. He is straight on, looking my way. He sticks his nose up in the air and starts smelling. Uh oh, my gig is up. He knows something isn’t right. I knew if I wanted to take him, now was my chance. The only shot I’ve got is at his chest but then he turns to my right slightly and I aim for his shoulder. I move the safety to fire. My finger moves on the trigger. I aim and the trigger won’t move. I freeze and think, am I that nervous or what did I do? Right at that moment, he turns more to my right and quickly runs off. I lower my rifle, turn it so the chamber side is up and there it is. The problem! When I chambered the round, I didn’t pull the charging handle hard enough and the chamber was half open with the round halfway chambered. My heart dropped and I became so upset at myself for being so careless and hurrying that morning and not taking the time to make sure my rifle was set to go. I waited a few minutes, put my rifle back on safe pulled the magazine out and unchambered the half chambered round. I gathered my stuff and walked down the mountain. I waited a while that afternoon and gathered my stuff again with making sure my rifle was chambered correctly and went back but didn’t see a thing. I knew that night, that if I was going to get him, I needed to go back that next morning. The next morning, same routine but this time I made sure that round was chambered just like yesterday afternoon. As I get to the same spot in the dark, I could hear a buck grunt and making a mad pace on the neighboring property right beside of me. I could see a shadow and I knew it was him. My thoughts were, he is over there on that property early and he will make his way to mine soon. There I sat, waiting for his return. Soon when you finally have enough light to legally hunt, I hear BOOM!!!! My heart sank, it was close and on the neighboring property. My neighbor told me he wasn’t going to hunt this year and he didn’t want me to hunt on his property either. I keep listening and before long I hear a side by side fire up and men yelling to each other. “Here he is!” Just like that, my opening modern firearms season weekend was ruined. I hunted that whole season without taking a deer. Saw that young buck all season. I don’t know how many times he came within feet of me and starred me down. I soon came to realize that you live, you learn, and you hunt because that’s what life is about. I learned more that season than I did any other season and it’s not always about tagging out. It’s about the experience you gain while hunting.
Hunting teaches you patience, discipline, ethics, sustainability, appreciation, confidence, perseverance, and hard work.



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