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By 8 years ago

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Anyone care to share a story of their youth for those youth who may read it?

Here is another story that I wrote for Guns.com. Please give them a visit and check out all they have to offer. It relates back to a life altering experience I had as a teenager sitting down to breakfast with my family. It involves a deer, a boy and a rifle. Oh yes, it also involves "Mama."

Farther away from the Back Door: A Metaphor for the State of Modern Hunting?
Article Hunting, Product & Industry News - 05.23.2011
Story by: John Jackson
Past Articles (15)


Not so many decades ago, I grew up in a semi-rural region of the country and had the chance to hunt pretty much as often as I desired, provided the seasons were appropriate. I was reasonably responsible and mature in the use of firearms, and of course been compelled to complete the local hunter education program.

I recall a moment, when I was around the age of fourteen; I was sitting at the breakfast table with my mother and younger siblings, eating a bowl of some sugary cereal. Soon to be ready to walk down the drive to meet the bus to school, I found myself staring into the small woodland behind our home.



Now there are visuals in everyone’s lives that manage to forever imprint themselves on the mind and this morning served as one of those for me. Gazing up past the wood-line behind my home I spied a deer feeding at the edge of the yard. This was not unusual as “neighborhood deer” would often pay us a visit to eat the clover we planted among the grass.



Almost as if sensing someone watching him, this deer raised his head and looked right back at me. I could feel the eye contact, across about 30 yards of lawn and underbrush and through the pane of glass of the window. I vividly recall its tongue licking the upper left side of its muzzle, the side-to-side wag of its tail and the slight shake of its head as if a fly were trying to bite its nose.



The slight shake of its head was a teaser to me. A narrow shaft of sunlight, almost as if placed there specifically by the hand of God to say, “Look at this work of mine,” shone on the antlers. Still in purple velvet, apparently a very late season bloomer, the antlers were magnificent. I’m sure if I would have listened close, I could have heard a choir singing somewhere. As I spilled cereal and milk on the table, I was clearly able to count the fourteen points of its rack, including two rearward facing drop tines about ten inches long.



Knowing this to be a rare trophy for our part of the state, I jumped up from the breakfast table and threw open the pantry door. Leaning up against the wall was my lever action Marlin .30-.30, loaded and ready to go. I stepped out of the kitchen door as I levered a shell into the chamber while kneeling to prop the rifle across the small side porch railing.

The deer was unphased by my movement and noise, continuing to graze on our abundant clover. I lowered the rifle until the crosshairs of my scope were directly on the left shoulder of this fine animal. I wanted to wait until he took a step forward with his left fore leg to expose the vulnerable area for the ideal shot. I was cool. I was calm. I was oh so collected. I was already deciding how to brag about this deer once I got to school. I was ready.



It is always during monumental moments like these that life likes to intervene, or interfere, depending on your point of view. I heard the words, “Don’t you dare shoot my yard deer!” Mom had gotten involved. No way! That’s why we kept the rifle behind the pantry door, just for occasions such as that. I had the choice of obeying my mother or taking the deer and suffering the consequences later on. I chose to obey her, knowing that the deer would show up again. Little did I know that sometime in the next week that very deer would tangle with a dump truck hauling limestone gravel.



The tragedy of this story isn’t the fact that the deer got away to be tragically lost on the highway but is more accurately the .30-.30 rifle in the pantry. Over the following years, we found that old rifle being moved farther way from the back door. Eventually it wound up locked away in a cabinet. Maybe this is a poor metaphor for the current state of things in and pressures upon the hunting world, but it seems that culturally we are doing the same thing to our willingness to (and hence freedom to) hunt and, by proxy, to even own firearms—we seem content to move hunting farther away from the back door.

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Zack Doyle

Zack Doyle

Not a story from my youth, but a story I wrote about taking a youth hunter on his first turkey hunt. One of my most memorable days in the field.

I had two first time turkey hunters out this morning. A very close friend of my family, Darwin, and his 12 year old son, Sawyer. Darwin has been a long time upland bird and deer hunter, but had never hunted turkeys. This was his sons first time in the woods. After three range sessions, multiple boxes of target loads, and his successful hunters safety course, we hit the woods at 5:15 this morning, at my cabin, in Sullivan County.

We set up in a secluded fence row, overlooking an unoccupied green cow pasture. A large tract of forest, on a wide bench, lay directly in front of us, and stubble corn behind. The morning started out slow, with only a few gobbles from a single bird on the roost about 1000 yards away. After an hour of silence, he reappeared about 500 yards away, and gobbled his head off for 3 hours. He responded to calls, but never came closer than 150 yards, constantly working back and forth across the bench, coming closer, and then farther away. Henned up. At 10:15 he quit altogether, like someone flipped a switch. We waited a half hour, and decided to move.

I was beginning to doubt our chances this late in the morning, but after a short ride down a dirt road, we glassed a large green field surrounded by thick pines, at the base of a steep incline. I noticed a lone hen in the back of the clearing, and decided to make the hike up and around, to the bench above, to try and possibly locate a tom that might be in the area.

A leg burning hike led us to the upper bench, a grassy area, with next to no cover. A long thin patch of thick downward sloping trees separated us from the field below. I stopped us about five yards short of the sharp decline, and let out a series of aggresive yelps. I was immediately answered by a hen, who gave it back twice as loud and twice as raspy, not five yards over the drop. I instantly signaled for us to drop to the ground, no cover in sight (and certainly no time to waste), and prompted Sawyer to raise the gun and prepare for a shot. She yelped again, and I cut her off, cutting and yelping back. She charged up over the ledge to check us out, but she remained calm and never seemed alerted.

About a minute went by, and as she moved slowly to our left, now at less than ten paces, I heard the unmistakeable sound of a mature gobbler drumming directly to our left. Just then, I noticed a tail fan pop up over the rise, followed by a vibrant red head, and a long thick beard. I whispered for Sawyer to peer out of the corner of his eye, and find the bird, now standing at nearly five steps. "Swing and shoot him!", I prompted as the strutting tom turned right, and focused on the hen. Sawyer swung and fired. Miss.

The gobbler took flight, heading up through the leafless trees to our left. "Shoot again!", I yelled, and he fired a second shot, dropping the bird stone cold in mid flight. The three of us let out a huge cheer, and all hugged and high-fived our way to claim the trophy. When we finally reached him, Sawyer wrestled him from the thicket.

We took a moment to admire his awesome prize, and Darwin and I shared a few teary eyes of a father and a mentor that couldn't be more proud. This morning turned out to be one of the most exciting hunts I have ever taken a part of, and no doubt one of the most humbling experiences of my young life. There is no feeling like guiding a young man to his first harvest, and having his father along to share the experience. Another stepping stone on his path to manhood has been crossed, and he is now obviously hooked for life. More importantly, this father and son now share in a passion they can enjoy together for many years to come.

The entire hunt was caught on some rather interesting video, in which you can neither see the gobbler, nor anything after the first shot was fired, as his father dropped the camera in excitement. All you can see is grass, and hear the second shot, and the cries of joy. Sawyers first turkey weighed in at 23 lbs and had a 10 inch beard, with 1 1/8 spurs. A trophy of a lifetime, and a memory that will never be forgotten by any of us.
John Jackson

John Jackson

Awesome story!
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