Where It All Began
I started my deer hunting career at the age of fourteen in King and Queen County, West Point Virginia. In 1979, my dad bought mom a brand new Remington 1100, full choke semi-automatic 12ga which was intended for her to use when she started hunting with him. Her real desire was just to do a little squirrel hunting with dad. In the very early 80’s, before ever getting into the woods, my mother suffered an injury to her ankle that prohibited her from being able to physically get around in the woods. Then, when Christmas 1986 came about and I rushed out of the bed at the early hours of the morning to see what Santa Claus had left me under the tree, I found Momma’s shotgun with my name on it. That was my first gun and to this day, my most cherished gun.
The following deer season, Daddy introduced me to the best thing ever, “Deer Hunting”. The 1100 they had given me was the perfect starter gun for me as it was just the right caliber and size for deer hunting. In addition, I already had a lot of confidence in this particular gun. By the time I started deer hunting, I had already won countless turkeys and gift certificates at some of the local turkey shoots. My shotgun held a pattern that was almost unheard of and everyone wanted know what we had done to make this gun so tight. In addition to the gun being perfect for me, it was also about the maximum allowed caliber in the area that we hunted, as the flatlands of Virginia didn’t allow rifles and even slugs were restricted to being elevated a minimum of 10 feet above ground level.
My first couple of seasons were spent either sitting directly beside my dad or within his sight as he used good judgment in not allowing an inexperienced hunter to free roam on public lands. Our seasons were cold and the hunting was very difficult. Though we didn’t join into any clubs, there were lots of hunt clubs that either surrounded us or encroached upon us on a regular basis. After all, it was public land and anyone with a permit to be there was allowed.
Dogs were a permissible method of hunting in the area of Virginia that we hunted as well. This was another tactic that we didn’t participate in so for those of us “Still Hunting”, it was even more difficult to find success. Needless to say, our success was very limited and we spent a lot of time just sitting in the woods freezing our buns off. For some ridiculous reason, I still enjoyed doing it. Over the six years that I hunted in these woods, I was only successful at harvesting one deer. When I was 15 I was fortunate enough to catch a four pointer running about a hundred miles per hour for a pack of dogs that were chasing him through my lane of fire. For six years, I made mistake after mistake, saw tons of deer and every one I saw was running “away” from me. I never got a clean shot! Though it never discouraged me from hunting, it did encourage me to learn.
How many people actually go six years only harvesting one deer? The answer is actually – Many! In fact, I have learned that many people go longer than that and never harvest anything. Hunting became more than just hoping to kill a deer someday, it became a challenge to learn “How to hunt” more successfully. I knew there were a lot of deer in the woods and I knew that I had seen a lot of deer in the woods, but I didn’t know how to outsmart them. I started spending a lot of time not only in the woods but also in the books, on the internet and wrapped up in many Q&A sessions with veteran and experienced/successful hunters. I took advice, suggestions and ambition and put them all into a simple formula and started using that formula to actually learn the way of the whitetail. That formula by the way was simply desire. A desire to learn the elusive whitetails ways and use them to my benefit. I do not shoot every deer that crosses my path, but I do shoot my fill. Literally, I shoot to fill my freezer. With that said, I have let many deer walk, both bucks and does, but I didn’t let them walk just to be nice. I used these deer as part of my study. If I wasn’t going to harvest this deer then I certainly wanted to use this deer as a study piece. Try different tactics, calls, spooks and so on. See how the deer responds and what the deer’s reaction is to my actions. Watch their body movement, ear twitch, foot stomps, bleats and grunts and direction way the deer takes to escape.
This is where it all began with me and what brought me to the level of successful that I am today. I am not the most successful hunter you will ever meet, but I do have my bragging rights. In addition, when deer season rolls around, I will hit the woods same as most of you will. The woods behind the old farmer’s house where I have permission to hunt on some little 30 acre plot or the game management land where hundreds of other hunters will trample through the woods. How can I go where you have already been and find success when you didn’t? That is what this blog is about and I will share my stories with you. I do have many exciting hunts that I intend to share in addition to the tactics that work for me. I want to inform you as well as entertain you. I hope you enjoy what I write and I hope you choose to come back for the next post.