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First Deer

By Randy Beckwith

Beckwith-- The muzzleloader season opener in the Adirondacks is my favorite day to hunt. The special season starts Oct. 15 and runs for seven days ... seven glorious days of hunting deer while they still in their regular routine.

During the season, we are allowed to harvest a buck or a doe.

The upcoming season was even more exciting for me because my fiancé, Heather, was going hunting with me for the first time. She would be the hunter, and I would be the guide.

I took her to my favorite spot, a hay field a farmer had given me permission to hunt. Approaching the field on a logging road, we spotted a deer out in the open.

We dropped to our bellies and began to “commando crawl” to the field edge. As we crept up to it, I heard a noise off to the side. A doe jumped out when I turned to see what it was.

I told Heather to slowly sit up so that she could shoot. But after studying the animal, we agreed that it was too small to take so early in the hunt.

We watched the doe hop off. Heather was elated. It was the first deer she’d seen in the woods, and to only be 15 yards from it made it even more exciting.

We returned our attention to the field. The deer we’d seen there earlier was gone. There is a small gully across the field. I told Heather the deer probably went there to bed.

Staying low, we crept across the field edge until we reached the gully. As we peeked over the edge, three deer ran up the other side. They stopped for a moment about 60 yards distant.

The lead deer was a big doe. I told Heather to take it. She raised the muzzleloader, aimed and attempted to fire. Unknown to both of us, the bolt had lifted, keeping the hammer from operating.

Heather was confused, and so was I. I did not think to check the bolt.

I handed Heather my muzzleloader, which I’d brought with me just in case something like this happened. By the time Heather was ready to shoot, however, the deer lifted their tails and ran for the thick woods.

Heather was so disappointed that she almost came to tears. “That was my one chance, and it is gone,” she said, dejected.

I looked her in the eyes and told her that it happens to the best of us. Otherwise, every hunter would get a deer every time they went.

Today!We agreed to sit on a deadfall next to my tree stand. I kept trying to brighten up the situation, saying we had a good afternoon ahead, so let’s just sit and relax.

“We will see another deer,” I told her. “I just know it.”

Five seconds later, bam! There it was, 35 yards away. Heather’s eyes almost popped out of her face mask. It wasn’t a big deer; just a button buck.

Light was fading fast. Slowly, she raised the muzzleloader, settled the crosshairs, and squeezed the trigger.

The shot was perfect, right in the chest, and the deer dropped in its tracks. It was an awesome feeling.

When got the buck home, the children were excited that mommy got a deer.

Hopefully, there will be many more.

--Randy Beckwith

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