Wild Alaskan Salmon Seafood

Wife's first deer (long story)

ID_deerslayer

Active member
Joined
Jul 31, 2012
Messages
486
Location
Great Falls, MT
The journey leading up to this years hunt goes back a few years to when my wife, Katie and I were dating and I took her on a doe hunt in northern Idaho with my brother, his wife, and oldest daughter. Having grown up in Portland, Oregon she was never exposed to hunting or the harvesting of animals until she moved to Idaho after college and later started dating me. Katie had never seen an animal shot, skinned, or butchered. She was forever changed on that first hunting experience getting to watch myself, my brother, my sister in-law, and my niece all harvest does. she was determined to go through hunters education and learn to harvest her own animal and contribute to putting meat in the freezer and on the table.

The following fall Katie and I were married and immediately had moved to Montana for her Job and start our lives together. This meant she would not be hunting since her free time leading up to our move was spent on planning a wedding, selling her house in Idaho, and preparing to move, hunters education was on the back burner until we got settled in Montana. To add to all that, we could not afford to be non-resident hunters.

Winter of 2013-2014 Katie spent reading up on hunters education, asking questions about hunting ethics, investing in a youth model rifle for her to shoot and become comfortable with, and finally taking her test. She was so excited at the potential of getting to harvest her first animal, a deer, with dreams of going after an elk in the following years. Having never shot and killed a large animal with the intention of eating it, she was still unsure how she might feel upon pulling the trigger on something, knowing that after she did, most likely death would be the result. All of her planning for a 2014 deer hunt ended abruptly when we found out katie was pregnant. Her hunting goal would have to wait another year.

This year I told katie that whether I was able to take an elk with my bow or not, I would dedicate my rifle season to taking her out to hunt for a deer for her to get in her crosshairs. my chase for elk would wait until after she had as many opportunities as she needed in order to help her reach a goal she had set.

Opening weekend came upon us and it also happened to be her birthday the friday before opening day so I planned to celebrate her and whisk her away to a cabin and escape from Great Falls for a weekend of relaxation and pampering, with our daughter, Elenore in tow. Hunting was not on my brain for the weekend. I asked her if there was anything she wanted to specifically do and she said she wanted to find a babysitter to go to the cabin with us and watch Elenore so we could go on a morning hunt. I made sure that she definitely wanted that and after many questions she affirmed her decision. finding a bay sitter to be available at 5 AM is definitely not an easy thing to do, especially when you don’t have any family in the state that you live in. After a sleepless night with a fussy child awake most of the night, opening morning was cancelled and katie hoped for sunday morning to be a better option.

On Sunday morning we were off to the hills in search of deer, after walking in a little over a mile we spotted some deer, two white tail does. With Katie’s goal to harvest a deer, she was not set on shooting a buck, but making a clean ethical shot. The stalk was on! Having spotted the deer in a small cut in the hill to get a break from the wind, we made a game plan on the route for her to take to close the distance from 800 yards to as close as possible, hopefully 100-200 yards. we had no cover to go straight at them even though the wind was in our favor. we back tracked to the east side of the hill before trekking south to close the distance. little by little we made our way closer, constantly checking to make sure that the does were still in the spot we left them. After closing the distance enough to have a real good look at the deer, Katie realized it was a doe with her fawn, looked at me and said “I can’t shoot the fawns mama, she’ll be orphaned!” I told her that if she wasn’t ready to shoot, that I was more than okay with that. Katie did however want to see how close we could get and after crawling on hands and knees, we were able to stalk to within 50 yards of the bedded does before getting busted. After the deer were long gone, katie looked at me and said “I can see why you love hunting so much now, that was awesome!” She shared with me that the adventure of searching for your food and the moments of pursuing an animal knowing you have the ability to take its life for the purpose of feeding the family was something she thought she would never do in her life and how grateful she was to be given the opportunity to try.

The next next few weekends were filled with other commitments and hunting was postponed. Between work, family coming to town, working with youth, and finding a babysitter taking Katie out was not easy. Getting to see family was a huge blessing though and we were grateful for that time.

Finally we had a weekend with no set plans or commitments and we found a babysitter that was available at 5 AM! Saturday afternoon we headed out to check out a new area of state land we had not yet been to to scout and see what kind of deer sign might be in the area. Upon getting there we were able to find a few deer in the spotting scope, and decided to take Katie’s gun for a walk. After further inspection, we found the bucks had moved onto private land out of reach of katie getting an opportunity to make a stalk on the deer. We watched from a distance, until last light to see where the deer would head for the evening to bed down. On the drive home we made a game plan for the following morning to get into a position to cut the deer off as they would head from the state land towards the private.

Sunday morning came upon us quick and we headed out the door, driving back to where we knew the deer would be in the morning. Upon arriving to our location we found a good place to sit and glass while we waited for the sun to rise at our backs and have the wind in our faces. While it was still dark and barely light enough to see silhouettes of darn near anything, Katie spotted movement and and whispered to me, “Deer!” She pointed the lone deer out to me as it was moving down hill into the ravine. it was not yet light out enough to shoot but we knew we were in a good location and waited to see if the deer would reappear on our side of the ravine. sure enough, five minutes later the deer came up onto the hill across from us and upon further inspection we realized it was a nice three point mule deer, he was tall and big bodied. However, the buck never stopped to feed or rest, he only kept walking and I told Katie not to shoot at a moving deer so she didn’t feel rushed. We watched him disappear over the hill in front of us and after tried to go after him and find him, hopefully feeding, but never did. after hunting the area till about nine o’clock, and cover the entire area of huntable ground, we decided to head over to another block of state land near by.

… more to come!
 

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ID_deerslayer

Active member
Joined
Jul 31, 2012
Messages
486
Location
Great Falls, MT
Once we arrived at spot number two of the morning we got out gear and headed in to the far edge of the state land. It was gentle rolling grass flat lands and Katie asked where we would find deer at in the dead grass littered with cow poop where we were walking. I assured her that we would get to the edge and have a place to glass down hill and hopefully find some animals to pursue. About half way there we spotted a hunter across the grasslands head down looking discouraged headed away from where we were going. I told Katie that just because he was walking out empty handed, doesn’t mean that there aren’t still animals to be found, and we pressed on to the area we wanted to be in. when we got to the edge of the hill we started glassing while standing and immediately found deer out in the distance, albeit on private, but deer non the less. we swung around the hill to an area we had not yet glassed and and I katie that even though we could not see anything down in the sage immediately with our naked eye that we should sit down and rest and glass for a bit. I assured her that the more often you sit still and aren’t moving, the more likely you are to find things that are.

We had barely been sitting five minutes when I spotted two deer in the bottom of the sage near some trees, and after further inspection assured Katie that they were mule deer does. She was all but ready to call it a day, but I insisted that where you find deer, often you will find more deer and to keep glassing. Two minutes later at the base of the hill a spot a third deer on foot headed to meet up with the two does, and quickly confirmed it was a buck! I told Katie where to look and she quickly found him and I exclaimed to her that he was a small three point on one side and that he had broke off most of his other side, most likely from sparring. She got very excited and asked how far the shot was and I told her 400 yards, too far to shoot. I told her that the deer were unaware of our presence and that we needed to back out the way we came in and move to a better location for a closer shot.

Katie went first, while I stayed put to make sure the deer didn’t catch her movement. After watching the deer and knowing katie should have been out of sight I got up, turned around to look for Katie and realized she had not in fact back out the way we walked in on the hill but was going straight up the hill! I knew the deer were still unaware of us, but went out the right way while katie hoofed it straight up the hill. Upon getting to the top of the hill and heading to our new location I asked her why she hadn’t gone the out the way I had told her to? She excitedly told me she was so excited about the buck, that she completely forgot how we walked around the side of the hill before finding the deer! I just laughed!

Finally getting to a finger at the top of the hill we could drop down on and stay out of sight of the deer, we made our decent down to a bench that would provide Katie with a good place to shoot from. I got her set up in sitting position and put my pack in front of her to use as a rest for her to shoot off of. I told her to quietly chamber a round and I would find the deer and where the buck was located at the bottom of the hill. Sure enough I found him quickly and told her that he was feeding quartering away in front of a large dead shrub near the tree line about 200 yards away. I told her to find him in her scope and that she shouldn’t shoot since he was feeding at a 45 degree angle away from us, and that you don’t take Texas heart shots at deer! I told Katie to just follow him in her scope while he browsed for food and that he would end up presenting a good shot for her to take. Having this extra time for the deer to provide a better shot was good, as it gave Katie time to collect her composure, calm her breathing, and focus on a spot on the deer to place the crosshairs right behind his lead shoulder. Finally, the buck turned 180 degrees and was now feeding to our right side and at an almost perfect broadside position. I told Katie to make sure she was ready and that she should let me know when she was going to take the shot so I could let her know if I saw the impact of the bullet on the deer.

“Okay, I’m going to shoot now.”

This was about 5 seconds after I told her and had just barely got my eyes on the buck in my binos. BANG! I see the buck donkey kick, but saw no impact of the bullet hitting the deer. Katie immediately asked, “did I hit him?!” I told her I didn’t see the bullet impact but that he was going to present another shot and to chamber another round for another shot. I watched the buck while she did this and told her i didn’t see any blood flowing out of his side, the side the bullet would have impacted. The buck had trotted maybe 20 yards before he began walking again and looking like he was going to continue feeding. he walked another 30 yards and just as I lowered my binos to look at Katie, she was watching him through her scope and he tipped over. I confirmed he had fallen and told he wasn’t getting up as I could see blood all over his ribs!

“I just shoot my first deer!” Katie was a rush of emotions and kept telling me she felt like she was in a dream and that she was so nervous about her shot wounding an animal and not being able to recover the animal. We sat back and I gave her a big hug and a kiss, congratulating her on a perfect double lung shot. I told her we would wait about 20 minutes before dropping down the hill to recover her deer and start the process of getting him ready to pack out. Once we arrived at her deer confirming that he had indeed breathed his last, we snapped a few pictures and thanked the good Lord above for his many blessings. After further inspecting the bucks antlers we discovered that he was an abnormal 1x3 and he had not actually broken off any tines. I explained the process of gutting and quartering out an animal and had her help with pulling the cape back and out of the way. We got him cut up and in game bags and I jokingly told her I was glad to have told her not to worry about bringing her pack hunting that day! She laughed hysterically at me, said she didn’t want to climb the steep hill we dropped down to recover the deer twice and grabbed a rear quarter and her gun and headed up the hill. I grabbed the remaining quarters, back straps, and neck meat, got it loaded in my Eberlestock pack and began the trek up the hill behind her. By the time we got back to the truck it was 12:30 and 63 degrees outside. Never in my mind did I think I would be packing out an animal in November in Montana in a short sleeve t-shirt!

I am very proud to get to share this story of my amazing wife who puts up with my hunting escapades and adventures and to have shared one with her. She has come out of this experience with a greater knowledge and respect for the hard work it takes to find, shoot, harvest, and pack out an animal and then get it butchered so you can eat it at your table.
 

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Muskeez

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 21, 2012
Messages
1,690
Location
NW Iowa
Love this story, pictures, and ending! Congrats to the Mrs. !! As a guy who takes his wife and daughters hunting I can appreciate your preparation and happiness in helping her accomplish this goal. Well done on all aspects!
 

ID_deerslayer

Active member
Joined
Jul 31, 2012
Messages
486
Location
Great Falls, MT
Thanks all for the encouragement. Katie is now in panning next years hunts and insists she gets a dos tag so she can have extra opportunities at filling the freezer. Along with wanting to be in the draws for a high woods elk tag. I may have created a monster!
 

swmt

Member
Joined
Dec 15, 2012
Messages
55
Awesome story. Few things are as exciting as a persons first big game animal. And getting to share that with your spouse is great.
 
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