First Deer Memories

Whitetail deer in fieldIt’s a place where orange fall leaves cover huge maple trees in a vast forest, where wet dew sits untouched upon the fallen leaves and where deer browse the sodden grass.

The place is a small, quiet ranch called Sanctuary in Stanwood, Michigan where my grandma and grandpa, Vovo and Taggy, took me to shoot my first whitetail deer. As excitement filled my mind, the hopes for my first opportunity to hunt for a deer thrilled me. The drive from the airport felt endless. When we pulled into the ranch, the orange maple leaves hanging from the towering trees engulfed us.

While our car drove swiftly through the dense woods to our cabin, the sun started to retreat to the horizon. After the seeming eternal length of the woods, our cabin emerged in the beams of the headlights. Vovo, Taggy and I got out of the car and stepped into the cabin that would be our shelter for the duration of the trip and excitement flooded over me at the thought of being so close to the thrill of the hunt.

I arose before dawn as the night’s shadows still hung in the air. A knock on the door told us that it was time to go. Outside was a man named Ryan; he was the man who would hopefully lead me to my deer. Outside, the cold air numbed our faces where exposed. All of us hopped into the car and headed for our blind.

First-Deer-021116We reached the blind–a makeshift tower made of sticks and logs. Once in our blind, my grandparents gave me tips and pointers about where and how to shoot the deer. As the sun began to shine over the peaks of the bright orange trees, we spotted a deer. My adrenaline started pumping and I began to feel lightheaded. I shook it off and tried to pull myself together. Then Ryan quickly raised his binoculars and looked at something. He swiftly turned to me and said, “He’s the one.” The words rang in my ears. My adrenaline started pumping again, but Vovo and Taggy soothed me through my buck fever. I got my sights on the deer, held my breath, and pulled the trigger.

Before I could catch my breath, I was up and out of the blind, slowly but surely heading toward my deer. My grandparents beside me, we closed in on it. His body lay quiet and still. My grandparents and I were so excited; I had taken my first deer. This was the place where I shot my first deer and I have re-visited Sanctuary a couple times to shoot deer, but I will never forget my first.–Harrison Atwood

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