Thursday, January 27, 2011

PostHeaderIcon My Best Days Afield

This is a guest post by Ben Gustafson of Central Minnesota. You can enjoy more of Ben's work on his blog, Ben G Outdoors.

When I was still just a kid, around the age of 12, I went out squirrel hunting with my uncle. I was super excited about this hunting trip. First, I had never shot a .22 at any thing other than a target. Secondly, it was the first time I had ever hunted anything other than the bothersome birds around my grandparent’s farm.

I didn’t really know what to expect, but I was so excited. My uncle, cousin, brother and I all piled into my uncle’s car and drove to some woods somewhere. I really have no clue where it was because I was on cloud nine at the time and not paying any attention.

Not knowing the first thing about squirrel hunting Ryan, Aaron and I all followed my uncle’s lead. Now I know it as the spot and tree the squirrel. I remember it being kind of hard to walk through the woods while keeping quiet.

My uncle saw the first squirrel and we were off chasing it until it ran up a tree. Then with just one shot he killed the squirrel. I really wanted to get a chance to shoot one of these tree rats. After another short walk over to the next oak woods we came across another squirrel and it was my turn to shoot. I had the little bugger all dialed in took the shot and I missed. I was to say the least frustrated, because I thought of myself as a good shot. I guess shooting up rather than at a target is a bit more difficult.

I took a second shot and missed again as Mr. Squirrel jumped to the other side of the tree. I had to move to the opposite side of the tree too, so I could get another shot at the furry fella. I took a deep breath after I had him in my sights. I slowly squeezed the trigger back as the gun popped off a shot. Someone yelled out “you got him” as he fell to the ground. I don’t think the grin left my face for the rest
of the day.

Now jump ahead about seven years, I was 19. It was my second deer hunting season back in Minnesota and my first season hunting with my current hunting party. After about three years of deer hunting under my belt I hadn’t had a chance to take a shot at any deer. I was almost to the point where I was going to say deer hunting isn’t for me and move on.

It was early opening morning. I had been sitting in my tree for about 2 hours when I heard a strange sound off to my right. I really wasn’t sure what it was at first. Then it dawned on me it was a buck snorting. My heart started pounding like crazy. Then I heard a bunch of noise in the brush coming from the same direction, but it seemed as though it was far away. I heard it again and again. The sounds of brush being flung around and sticks snapping were very close.

I stood up only to have my leg start shaking like I was running a race. I had to calm down so I closed my eyes briefly hoping to stop my leg from shaking. No luck. I physically grabbed my leg to stop it from shaking and that worked until I saw him, a very nice 8 point buck. Oh and he was following a doe. They were both just walking and not really paying attention to anything.

As they walked close or at least as close as they were going to get, I brought my gun up and took a shot. But my leg started shaking again and I missed. The deer froze in their tracks and I hurriedly fired again. This time I hit the buck, but he didn’t go down. Instead he headed right toward me at full speed. I fired again and again until I unloaded my 870 pump.

As the last slug flew out of my gun the deer dove head first into some brush. At this point he started to baller so loud I almost thought there was a cow out in the woods. I hurried out of my tree so I could make a kill shot. I had to walk around a bit to get in a good position to take a good shot.

My whole party couldn’t believe that it was me who was shooting at the deer they all thought it was someone with a semi auto.

I don’t think those days will be replaced until my boys start hunting.


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