Baseball-loving Kentucky teen becomes a true hunter
By Mackenzie Hicks
Growing up in eastern Kentucky, your life usually revolves around two things: high school sports and hunting.
I've played baseball ever since I can remember, and besides baseball, the only other thing I usually do is sleep. This comes from my dad's side of the family.
I'm 19 now and play college baseball, but I believe my mother's side of the family kicked in when fall baseball practice ended this year. I got an uncontrollable urge to go hunting!
I called my uncle, Steve Wells, and asked him to show me the ropes. He is known locally for his feats in the outdoors, and I hoped he could help me take my first deer.
Uncle Steve had just returned with a 300-inch bull elk from Colorado, so he was still pumped up and in hunting mode, which he rarely gets out of. He said to come on down, and he would let me borrow a gun.
I could tell he was excited that I'd wanted to pick up on that side of my family's obsession.
After getting my tags and licenses, Uncle Steve took me to the treestand I'd be using in the morning. He gave me a cram session of deer hunting.
All the knowledge he'd learned in a lifetime of hunting was way too much for someone to even begin to learn in a year, much less in a few hours. Nevertheless, I was excited.
The following morning I got up way earlier than I'm accustomed to, and before sunrise, I found myself in a treestand in the dark woods holding my uncle's 7mm.
I was completely out of my element, but I tried my best to sit still and quiet.
As the morning progressed, I saw nothing but a few squirrels. They entertained me for hours, but I was getting restless even though I was enjoying the peace and serenity of the woods. Ten a.m. rolled around, and we left the woods to go to church.
After the service, we went to the local lakeside market, got a couple of cheeseburgers and went back to try it again.
Uncle Steve took me to a different spot this time where we found a good sized rub (I had no idea what a rub was), and some tracks.
He dropped me off and said he'd come back before dark or if he heard me shoot.
Before he left, Uncle Steve gave me some last minute pointers. He told me if I ever got my first deer, I'd be hooked. Then he smiled, winked and drove off.
Once again, I sat alone in the woods waiting and, eventually, getting restless.
Although getting up to walk around went against my uncle's advice, I had to stretch my legs.
After walking for a bit, my heart stopped when I spotted a whitetail prancing through the woods. It was a doe, and as it disappeared, I recalled my uncle's educational talk about the rut and how bucks chase does.
With this in mind, I slowly made my way back to the spot where he dropped me off at the big rub, hoping a buck would head through there to get that doe.
As I rested beneath a tree, tired, covered in briars, and knowing that soon I had to get back home to head to night school, I slowly began to lose hope of ever becoming a true hunter. I told myself I'd wait a few more minutes, and then head home to get ready for class.
I turned my head to look over my shoulder one last time, and there he came, walking out of the woods!
When I saw antler, my heart started pounding, a lump formed in my throat and my breath got short. I'm sure y'all know the feeling!
The huge buck was walking about 50 yards away from my shade tree when it suddenly looked straight at me. I froze.
My mind went blank and my body stiff until the buck finally looked away to start grazing.
I snapped to my senses and knew it was time to make a move. As slowly as I could, I raised the gun. There was nothing to rest it on, so I had to take an offhand shot.
I remembered where Uncle Steve told me to aim, so I found the buck's shoulder in my crosshairs. I was pretty shaky, as you can imagine, and then the buck looked up at me again. My heart sank as I was sure it had spotted me.
It turned and trotted toward the thicket it had come from.
I followed it with my scope until, in a moment of awesomeness, it stopped.
I knew it was now or never and slowly squeezed the trigger. The buck dropped right in its tracks!
As the ringing in my ears dazed me, it seemed as though time slowed down, like it does in those memories you never forget.
Out of pure emotion, I let out a big whoop.
I ran over to see my first buck, and I did the only thing I knew to do. I knelt on one knee and gave glory and thanks to the Good Lord for what had just happened.
After taking a picture with my phone, I excitedly went up the trail to yell to my uncle that I'd gotten one.
He came over, and I showed him the picture. Uncle Steve said, "Get in the truck right now!" Not knowing anything about what makes a buck big, I didn't realize just how big this one was.
It was one of the greatest moments of my life, and my uncle was right, I'm now hooked!
Now I find myself wanting to do nothing else but be out in the woods, and I can't wait until next season.
I give all the glory to God and am very thankful for my Uncle Steve Wells for taking the time to teach me about hunting and for putting me on my first buck. I'm also thankful for my parents who paid to get the buck mounted for me.
I hope ya'll enjoyed my story, and best of luck to you in your upcoming season!