The first time you experience something significant tends to stick with you for a lifetime, whether good or bad. I hunted on and off for 10 years before I shot my first deer. My father and I were out on my grandparents' land hunting whitetail in Oklahoma. I remember it was evening, and I had been sitting on top of a sandstone bulge. I had not seen anything all evening, but this was normal to me. I rarely saw anything over all those years I hunted with my dad. Primarily due to impatience, but I chalked it up top bad luck. I decided it was getting dark, and I decided to call it a night as I had done dozens of hunts before. I got to one knee, and some movement caught my eye about 80 yards away. A buck was standing right there. He seemed to appear out of thin air. He was standing on the edge of the treeline, heavily quartered away, and I remember the bright glow of a setting sun directly above him.
While I did not get the shaky buck fever many talked about, I let my inexperience show. I decided to rush the shot and shoot from the unstable position that the buck caught me in. Sort of a knee on the ground half squat. I put the buck in my sights, reticle behind the right shoulder blade, and squeezed the trigger. He jumped and ran off into the woods. I had a sick feeling in my stomach. I knew it wasn't a great shot, and I knew I had rushed it. My dad pulled the truck up, and we went searching with headlamps. He only went about 20 yards and dropped. I felt a wave of relief come over me, knowing the buck did not suffer. I also felt ashamed seeing my lousy shot placement. The buck was a small 3 point, no more than 3 years old, and was missing an antler. In the future, this would be pretty amusing to me because the next buck I would shoot would be a smaller 3 point missing an antler.
Since the buck was heavily quartered away, I essentially shot in the back ham, through the organs, into the lungs. We acted quickly to remove the guts so nothing would be contaminated. My dad was doing most of the work, as time was critical, the temps were dropping below freezing, and the sun was now fully set. I ruined some of the hindquarter meat, but we salvaged as much as we could. We ground most of the meat and made steaks and roasts out of the rest. Taking this buck's life has been ingrained in my brain ever since. I got into precision shooting to better my skills with a rifle and becoming much more confident in my shot placement. While this was not my first hunting experience ever, it was my first buck. It was not the best-looking buck. It was not the best-executed shot. Nonetheless, I was still proud of my first kill and will never forget it.