Monday, November 28, 2016

First Kill

Opening day for rifle season. A friend suggests I hunt that morning on his farm. I accept his gracious offer. Equipped with a valid Tennessee big game permit (purchased at the last minute!) I ascend his deer stand and wait.

Official first light for the day is at 5:56 am. The irony is not lost on me. My SPR, "Lucy," is chambered in 5.56 mm, as is standard of the AR15 platform.

Lucy has a free-floated White Oak Armament precision fluted barrel. She has a Geissele trigger. I use a traditional A2 stock. For glass, my TA-31F ACOG. Not a "precision" optic, but more than capable. Ammo is 75 grain Hornady match. It is a BTHP round, known for its accuracy.

About 7:15, a buck enters my line of sight from the right. He is bounding at a brisk pace. He stops at the trees in the above picture and turns, quartering away from me.

Most people worry most about "buck fever" - the anticipation and nervousness that wrecks the hunter's body and mind and leads to poor shots and frequent misses. Years of Martial arts training means I feel none of it. Almost robotic in nature, I raise my rifle, settle my sights behind the shoulder about 4 inches, and fire.

The buck runs off and leaps a nearby fence.

I make a mental note of the location in the fence he leapt. I climb down from my perch, grabbing my rifle and day pack. I patrol to the spot and realize I cannot make it safely over or under the fence at that spot. The deer had made an incredible leap.

Never did it occur to me that I might have missed. Years of training in marksmanship left me with a clear picture in my mind of my sight picture at the moment the gun fired. It was a clean hit behind the shoulder.

30 yards down the fence, I find a suitable opening and make my way through on hands and knees. Returning to the spot I'd noted, I blankly realize that I'd never tracked an animal before. This is my first hunt.

Memories of friends who hunt talking about blood trails come to mind. I search the area, and quickly find a blood trail. I follow it for 40 yards. It was easy to follow.

And there he was, lying in a ravine.

As I drew near, it was easy to see the effects of the shot.

The exit wound was significant.

The entrance wound was less impressive:

I dragged my 100+ pound prize back, through the opening in the fence, and waited for my friend, who would show me how to dress the paleo friendly meat. My friend also took a picture of me with the kill:

In less than an hour, I had a cooler full of tasty fresh deer meat. Pictures of the meat and dinners to come later. I also kept the antlers as a personal trophy. Pictures of that to come later, as well. 

As a side note, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) has a fantastic and simple check in system. I was able to do it via my phone during the short wait for my friend to meet me.

One shot,
One kill.
No luck,
All skill.

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