2020-2021 Youth Writing Contest Honorable Mention – Junior Category – Maine (Grades 6–8)
200 Pounds of Beginner’s Luck
William McDonnell, Age 12, 7th grade; Denmark, ME
The deep tone of a buck resounded out of the grunt call. My eyes moved slowly over the tall grass and brush; nothing moved. It was Youth Day and my very first day ever hunting whitetail deer. My dad was trying to call a buck.
Suddenly, I heard crashing.
“Look! Bring it up!” he whispered tensely. I quickly brought up the gun I was carrying and placed it on the birch shooting stick’s y-shaped top. I saw a flash of white above some grass and lowered my cheek to the butt of the gun. My hands were shaking. I saw one split second of the white tail before it was gone.
I was disappointed as I walked back to the truck. Little did I know what would occur later that day.
That afternoon, my dad suggested an evening hunt. Just before 4 p.m. we put on our orange and headed out. We sat down in a group of blown-down trees at the edge of a clearing.
We were sitting comfortably on a fallen tree, with another tree parallel to us. I had my gun rested on the second tree and was chatting with my dad. (I recall the conversation being related to beetle poop.)
We had just repeated the same call sequence as that morning, when my dad said “Look!” A buck was walking into the clearing we were in!
The buck was grazing when it walked into my crosshairs. The wind must have shifted and let him smell us because his head popped right up. My dad’s eyes were locked on the buck. “Don’t shoot, don’t shoot” he whispered. I still hadn’t looked closely at the antlers, but that was when my dad noticed them, as he told me later. And why, although the deer was still in the same position (looking towards us with its head cocked to the side), he then told me “Shoot… just shoot.”
Thinking back on it I don’t remember feeling much of anything; I just lined up the crosshairs and pulled the trigger. The deer dropped. It seemed like I could hear it hit the ground.
We waited for almost 45 minutes, though it felt like 10 seconds, and when we walked the 50 yards to the buck (we paced it out later), I still hadn’t processed what had just happened. My dad was as stunned as I was. We just stared at the buck for half an hour, until I realized what had just occurred. The buck was huge, and its rack was bigger. It was far larger than anything that I’d anticipated as my first deer. All of this took place on my first day of hunting ever! The buck ended up being 201 pounds, with 13 points!
Some hunters I’ve talked to about this have joked that after this maybe I should just retire from hunting and take up another sport like bowling. But I think I’ll be out again this fall.