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.