By Mark Mathy
I was 37 years old when I discovered the magic of hunting. My older brother has hunted since we were kids, but it never appealed to me back then.
Several years ago, I asked a buddy of mine, Randy Thompson, who owns a small farm, to take me hunting. He said sure. I sat through extreme cold, rain, wind and everything else a Missouri winter could throw at me until the next to last day of the rifle season. I was sitting with my back against a tree on a field edge tree when an incredible buck walked onto the field 150 yards distant.
It was so amazing that I almost forgot what to do. As the buck turned broadside, I put the crosshairs on him and squeezed the trigger. Nothing happened. I forgot to push off the gun’s safety. The next squeeze sent a .30-06 downrange, instantly dropping the animal.
After waiting to make sure the buck was down for good, I went to get Randy and my truck. As we approached the deer, I started to worry about the point count, as there is a minimum in this part of Missouri. I asked Randy to make sure the buck was legal. As he was examining the rack, I thought I saw a worried expression come over his face. That worried look turned out to be one of amazement. He told me the buck was the largest he’d seen taken off of his property!
The deer had 8 points and weighed about 175 pounds. A shoulder mount now hangs in my youngest son’s room. I also had the hide tanned and the meat processed.
The following year, I focused hard on hunt preparation and had a successful archery hunt.
Since then, I have become obsessed with the outdoors and hunting. More important, I now have a greater appreciation for the natural world. My sons and I hunt at every opportunity. When we are not hunting, we are caring for nature through conservation activities or just hiking in the woods. I tell my wife that I want to take our kids hunting so I don’t have to hunt for them later in life.