It finally arrived – opening day of firearms season and with it, the memory of shooting my first deer still fresh in my mind. As daybreak cracked over the horizon, I could hear gunshots ringing out in the distance. I knew the time had come: crisp fresh air, colorful fallen leaves and animals scurrying about.
Kat Haas Outdoors is sponsored by Remington Outdoor Company
One shot turned into 2, 2 became 3, and soon the surrounding properties came alive with gunfire. As I listened to gunshots, keeping an open ear for running deer, I thought of an old hunting proverb, “One shot means 1 deer fell. Two shots mean maybe 1 deer fell. Three shots mean the deer got away.” Every time, I’d get that super adrenaline rush, squeeze my Remington 870 tight, I’d only found myself meeting the eyes of another squirrel. My amusement with these playful critters turned to annoyance and by the time the sun had risen fully, I knew my chances of a successful hunt started to decline with each passing minute.
I’d heard from other hunters that deer will stay put until gunshots faded, so I convinced myself to stay “just 1 more hour,” determined to kick the season off with a bang.
You’d be amazed at what you’ll think of, sitting in a box blind for hours by yourself. The bantering from deer camp the night prior gave me a bit of a chuckle, and the determination I needed to pursue the hunt. Seriously, did he really say, “What do you think you’re going to do with that 870?” Just as quickly as I blurted, “It’s the only gun I own and I’m planning on shooting the first deer,” I thought to myself what have I gotten into.
While last night sat on my mind, I also thought about all the adventures I had been on with my little shotgun. I remembered chasing rabbits at my childhood home, going waterfowl hunting and killing my first turkey in the rain. “This gun and I have been through it all,” I thought, looking affectionately at it, the stock shimmering in the sun. My thoughts scattered as I heard a noise close by.
“Eh, It’s just another squirrel,” I thought, carelessly looking over the wall of my blind and peering across the colorful woodland floor. A small deer, about 40 yards away, met my gaze. Its brown coat contrasted beautifully with the multicolored leaves. As it began to move closer, my heart and mind began to race. “Okay, calm down, you can do this,” I said to myself as I felt my knees begin to shake.
The deer began to walk slowly toward my left, putting itself right in front of me at about 30 yards, slightly quartering away. I eagerly shouldered my gun, took a deep breath, and … “Boom!” I squeezed off the shot. I felt the world slow down, as I watched as the deer ran in a half circle around my blind, and disappearied into the thick holly trees. My whole body shook with adrenaline and my cell phone exploded with text messages.
“That U?” “Who shot?” “U shoot a deer?” I skimmed through the texts, I had a hard time typing back, my hands shaking ferociously, “I shot a doe!” I replied.
I tried to wait half an hour before looking for a deer after the shot. I couldn’t wait any longer. After about 10 minutes, I scurried down the steps, and ran to where the deer had stood when I shot. “I did it!” I exclaimed, as I found a puddle of blood. Each pool led to another, which led to my deer, collapsed in a briar patch about 30 yards from the stand.
I excitedly dragged the deer out into a small opening in the woods to take a better look at its beautiful brown fur. When I did, my heart sank. I realized I had killed a button buck. At that moment, my hunting partner and boyfriend, Wes, appeared in the woods.
“I killed a button buck,” I disappointedly reported.
“Did you make a good shot?” Wes asked, having not yet looked at the deer lying behind me.
“Yup, I shot through the back of the lungs and the slug stopped on the opposite shoulder,” I replied, showing him the bump on the other side of the rib cage.
“Then be proud that you made a good kill,” he told me, wrapping me into a hug as I wore an ear-to-ear grin.
In that moment, I proudly looked at my deer – now thrilled that I would tag my second deer, and I made a good shot. I laughed as I thought about all the teasing my little gun got last night, but I did what I set out to do. I showed the other hunters the button buck at the house, where I received a round of warm congratulations. Pleased with what my 870 and I accomplished, I knew this hunt would never be forgotten.
From an early age, Kat Haas' love of the outdoors has been constant and unwavering. Kat spent countless hours outside with horses when she was young. As she grew, so did her passion for the outdoors. She started shooting at the age of 14. By the time she was 21, she was hunting and trapping. Kat blogs at kathaasoutdoors.com to inspire other newcomers, and those who have nobody to teach them, to find their inner passions for the outdoors. View all posts by Kat Haas