That Feeling of a First Deer
by Zach Gorton

2 /07 New Hampshire


The 2006 hunting season had brought a lot of excitement, along with a lot of hunting with no success in bagging a deer. I have been hunting since about the age of 7, with ample opportunity to shoot deer, and see a lot of deer. But for those first couple of years, I spent a lot of time with my dad, Mike Gorton and grandfather, Charlie Gorton who have spent this time sharing with me our family’s fall tradition of deer hunting. These past years have come up successful for me in that, even though I hadn’t bagged that trophy of a lifetime, the first deer, I have had a lot of fun in the woods just getting familiar with my surroundings, behaviors of deer, and ultimately, what hunting is all about. November 18th was the day I learned what I had been working for since I was introduced to the sport.

It was just like any other morning during the deer hunting season. I woke up, my dad rolled out of bed, and my grandfather got to the house for our scheduled breakfast, and to figure out what we were going to do in the woods for that day. Breakfast was done and I was in the process of getting ready. Dad usually gets aggravated with my “lollygagging” but this morning I really had no ambition to prepare myself for the hunt. I threw on my Long Johns and a pair of jeans and my boots. I put on a long sleeved T-shirt, grabbed my wool coat, my Marlin .30-30, and we were out the door. Just the three of us (dad, grandfather and I) would be hunting this morning. The ride from Farmington to Strafford seemed unusually short with talk of “never knowing when a nice buck could walk right in front of you” and how successful the family had been so far with at least seeing deer and how much fun that is, even if you can’t get a shot, considering that it seemed that about every deer spotted this season had been bald.

We pulled up to where we normally park, and just like any other morning, it was about 6:45. We all three got out of the truck, and just about every morning I say to myself, “this is the day!” I put my old wool coat on, and took the rifle out of the truck, as the other two did the same. We all started walking into the woods as we do every morning. Noting that the sun was coming up behind me, it was going to be a beautiful day, although the metal on the .30-30 was cold to touch this morning. All three of us were walking down this particular trail, as we usually did; and we had all finished the uneasy task of loading those .30-30s. My grandfather, with a lot of years of hunting experience, and a lot of knowledge, stated that this morning would be hard hearing, with the wind a bit gusty. He said “you guys go ahead, I’m going to break away from the trail here, I’ll meet you down where we usually meet” knowing that this was a bend in the trail in a nice hardwood area, bordering a large swamp. This swamp is prime cover for deer, and with that in mind, my dad said, “you go to the flat here in the trail”, and that he was going to overlook the swamp to see if there is any deer activity. Agreeing with the plan, I did as my dad asked. He made his way to the swamp, and in about 5 minutes was back at the trail, with the result of no deer movement. So we made our way down to the bend in the trail, and my dad said, “We’ll pull up a rock and have a coffee and wait for grandpa.” Again agreeing with this, I had no idea of the hunting plan for the day. So we sat on a rock, and I leaned my gun up against a small beech tree right next to me. Unprepared for anything to happen, I moved from my seat to the other side of my dad, where we proceeded to “shoot the breeze”. We continued just talking for about 2 minutes when I looked and saw what I thought was a buck coming right into us. I took a second look and said “dad there’s a buck”. He said “What?” repeating myself with a low whisper I said “a buck, a buck”. Keeping in mind that my gun was leaned against a beech about 5 feet away, I snuck to it as my dad said “stop moving he’ll see you and take off”. Without accepting his instructions, I made my way to the .30-30, picking it up, and still looking at the deer. By this time, I had the gun cocked and making its way to my shoulder. The deer still somewhat quarter-on, stood there investigating me. I lined the iron sights up on my marlin, and thought I was right about perfectly on the deer, and squeezed the trigger. Without a reaction the deer still investigated. Then proceeded to take about 5 steps forward, and then stop. I jacked the empty casing out of the lever action’s chamber, with the next shell moving into place, I put the lever back into its shooting position. I lined the iron sights up once again, knowing that something wasn’t right, I had missed the deer. Now I can see the deer in my sights, as I had thought I did the first shot, and once again, I squeezed the trigger, this time the buck immediately started to fall down right in its tracks. My dad right next to me instantaneously hollered “YES! YOU DID IT ZACK” thinking to myself, “I finally did it” I agreed with a holler “YES, OH YEAH!”

So proud to be there that day, and the trophy I had gotten, my dad and I both made our way to the downed deer which was about 65 yards away through the hardwoods. We got to the buck and my dad said “Zack that’s a good first deer, that’s a good deer anyway, but he’s a nice buck.” Counting the points on the rack, I proceeded to say, “Dad he’s a nice 8 pointer.” About a minute after all of the excitement, my grandfather came down the trail through the hardwoods to where we were “good job bud” he said, and then stated “now the work starts”. I then learned how to field dress the deer, and after that was done, how much work it really was to drag a deer. There is one incline in the trail that we had to make our way up with the buck, but I could have sworn, by the time I got to the top of that grade, as I told my dad, “this is a record buck, I think he weighs about 350 pounds.” Agreeing that this knoll we had just made our way over dragging the deer was hard work, he just kind of chuckled. Truth being told, the deer weighed in at 175 pounds, and an 8 point rack with a 20 inch spread. Any first deer is a trophy, and one to be proud of, but the feeling of that buck just dropping in its tracks was the best feeling in all of my days of hunting.

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