Confessions of a Hunter

Anderson’s forehead showing his scare left from his “scope bite.” (Photo courtesy of Andy Anderson)

By Andy Anderson 

I was about 12 or 13 years old, hunting on my own. I picked my own spot out, did the work to build a tree stand, plant a food plot and set up a feeder. I hadn’t gotten a deer yet but I was determined. My dad had bought me a Rossi 357 to use, open sights and I practiced often with it. I was a good shot, but there was something about my dad’s rifle that attracted me to want to use it. It was a bolt action .270 with a scope. I had been with my dad on multiple occasions when he took a deer I just knew that’s what I needed when I went hunting.

It was a cool December evening as I was about to head out to the deer stand to try my luck. Standing at the gun cabinet, I stared at that rifle. I mustered up the courage to ask if I could take it out. “Sure. Just be careful,” my dad said. That moment I felt older, like I was bigger and more capable. It had a sling, mine didn’t. I slung the rifle up on my shoulder. It was nearly as long as I was tall. I grabbed the rest of my gear and headed out.

I had built my deer stand out of some scrap wood, a few two by fours wedged between the forks of the main branches of an old oak tree about eight feet up. Overlooking an oat patch, I sat waiting, watching the squirrels run about, playing, and stealing corn from the feeder, and birds flying in and out, calling out to each other. The smells of fresh earth filled the air, the tree croaked and groaned as the wind blew, leaves fell ever so gently to the ground.

The sunlight was beginning to fade, and the air was getting cooler. It was getting late, that time of day that Dad said was prime time for the deer to move. My legs began to cramp, I needed to stand and stretch. I leaned the rifle opposite where I wanted to rise. Slowly I stood, one foot in the fork of the tree, the other just extended out for some much needed relief.

Just as the pain subsided, I heard something: A rustling sound through the underbrush. I froze, watching, listening intensely for what it was. It was getting louder and closer. I looked to the rifle and began devising a plan to retrieve it without making any noise. I slowly began to sink down onto the two-by-four seat, balancing myself on one foot. My heart beating hard, I felt it pounding in my chest.

Just as I began to grasp the rifle, the sound stopped. It was quiet for a few minutes, then I heard just a slight rustling. Oh man, he’s getting closer I thought to myself. I lifted the rifle with both hands bringing it onto my lap ready to shoulder it when needed.

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