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Your First Deer - A Memorable Experience

By James Altiere, Regional Hunter Education Coordinator

Ask any hunter about the first deer he or she harvested and they can vividly tell you the events that took place up to and during that hunt. As new hunters continue hunting, they will always remember the first deer even after harvesting many.
I vividly remember the warm morning in November, many years ago on the Barbour County Wildlife Management Area, when hunting became a way of life for me. I made my way to an area that had trails and browse that were being used on a regular basis by whitetail deer. When I entered the area, it was still dark. I could hear other hunters climbing trees with their new Baker tree stands. I located a partially downed tree and climbed up about 4 feet off the ground. At 7:45 a.m., I heard something coming through the leaves. Then I saw the deer and my heart began pounding. I looked closer to see if it had antlers. Only antlered deer were legal to harvest. Then I saw the 6-inch spikes. I carefully lowered my Remington 7mm rifle, took aim and squeezed the trigger. My first deer and I will never forget the thrill!
As a seasoned hunter and having a career in the wildlife profession, I can truly say I have been through all the stages of a hunter. Now with the ability to provide the opportunity to a first-time hunter, I can enjoy the excitement again. 
It was last January when I was asked if a young man that had never harvested a deer before could come with his uncle and hunt on my farm. I was thrilled at the idea. They came in that afternoon and we all met at an old farm house that acts as a hunting lodge. In this house, there are mounts of mature deer harvested in past hunting seasons. When the young hunter entered the house, his eyes fixed on the deer mounted on the wall. He then made the comment, “I am going to harvest one just like that!” That afternoon the hunters went to their hunting areas. The young man along with his uncle and a friend went to a shooting house in my lower field. At about 5:15 p.m., I heard a shot. Shortly after, I got a call that the youngster had shot a deer and that it was a “good one!” To see the look on the young hunter’s face as we retrieved the deer was just as exciting and memorable as when I squeezed the trigger on my first deer.
Harvesting your first deer is truly a memorable experience, one that each hunter will never forget. Assisting beginning hunters can be just as memorable. As responsible hunters, we should all do our part to ensure the future of our hunting heritage by helping a family member or friend begin to make a lifetime of hunting memories.

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