The New Year becomes a time to reflect on the past year. What went right and how can I make things better? These are the thoughts that most people are contemplating this time of year. I am looking back over my deer hunting accomplishments.
I started off my 2011 deer season with a doe harvested with my muzzleloader in October. I made a great shot on this animal and put her down where she stood. I was so happy. This was my first deer in several years. I didn’t have a clue that the best was yet to come.
On the first day of Pa. rifle season I had the opportunity to harvest an eight point buck. I was ecstatic. This was my first buck in a long time. This was the first buck I had shot since my disease has progressed limiting my mobility. I could not be more on cloud nine. I still look at the antlers which are mounted on my wall and feel a great sense of accomplishment.
This one event has done more to improve my hunting self-esteem than any I could imagine. The psychological toll that a disability takes on an individual when it limits the abilities is known only to those people who experience it. When this burden is lifted it provides a utopic sense of accomplishment.
I pressed on, listening to that little voice in my head which kept saying the season is not over and you still have tags. The late season flintlock season was always one I enjoyed. The season definitely mirrors the saying” I like it but it does not like me”. The biting cold is something that doesn’t mix well with a neuropathy. I still wanted to prove to myself that I can face it. I did not expect to win, but I lined up my help and prepared.
On Dec. 29 I had the opportunity to hunt on some land with a blind that was accommodating to me. The snow flurries were flying and the temperature was in the twenties. I was settled in to the blind which overlooked a field. I had been almost giddy with the expectation of shooting a deer with my flintlock. I had gone so many years without even getting the flintlock out of the gun safe.
To my left I saw two deer enter the field, a six point and a four point; go figure. What are the chances of going so long not harvesting a buck; and then harvesting a buck in rifle season and the seeing two more buck in late season flintlock. This could only happen to me I thought. I figured these deer would stay around till dark, march all around me: and then when it is past legal shooting light herds of antlerless deer will show up. I sometimes still cling to my bad luck.
As I sat watching the parading buck I saw several does appear at the edge of the field. I could not believe it. The does started to work toward me. I settled my shooting sticks and sights on a large doe. The doe fed broadside to me at about sixty yards. I was hoping for her to move closer. The deer remained broadside feeding for what seemed like an eternity. I decided it was now or never. If I waited and had to readjust my props and gun every deer in the field would be gone.
I settled the sight on the doe’s shoulder pulled back the hammer and fired. The sparks the smoke and the downed deer; Yes, the downed deer put a smile on my face and my heart in hyper drive. I had done it, after many long years I had once again scored in late season flintlock. I slowly made my way to the deer. I could see it was a very large doe. I was on cloud nine once again. My daughter who is only five was along with me. This was the icing on the cake for me. My daughter got to see her dad succeed in his passions. I was able to show her that despite a person’s limitations, with the help of others it can be done. The deer was prize three of my 2011 season and proved to me that I was still capable of hunting whitetail.
The 2011 deer season will be something I will never forget. I was fortunate to be able to succeed in a sport that I am passionate about. I would never have been able to accomplish any of this without the help of my friends’ family and even strangers. These people will never know how much their assistance is appreciated. I have always stressed that if you want to do it, and you have plenty of help, that despite your limitations anything is possible. Bring on the 2012 deer seasons.....