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The Wounded Warrior program was initiated by the U.S. Army to assist those from recent conflicts in making a more complete return to civilian life. This program offers a large variety of training and activities, including hunting and fishing, to supplement the Veterans Administrations’ rehabilitation efforts. As a gun writer and Vietnam-era veteran, I offered to host a Wounded Warrior on a deer hunt at my home. Former Sgt. Billy Deen who lives in Ellersile, Georgia, took me up on my offer.
As it turned out, Sgt. Deen has a 13-year-old son, Hunter, who had yet to take his first deer. Asked if he would like to accompany his dad on this hunt, Hunter replied that he would. The problem was finding a time when he would have an early out from school so that we could do a full week-end hunt. Although I have numbers of deer, killing one at any particular time is a chancy business. The more time we could spend “on stand” the higher our possibilities of success.
Hunter’s school let out early on one Friday in November. This allowed the Deens to drive from Western to Central Georgia in time to get checked out with muzzleloaders for a hunt on the last day of Georgia’s muzzleloading season. Sgt. Deen was having trouble shooting the unfamiliar CVA Electra, but Hunter shot well. Time was running short, so it was agreed that Hunter, who is large for 13 and could handle an adult-level load, would shoot that evening and his dad would use his bolt-action cartridge rifle the next morning when regular gun season came in.
After taking them to their built-up shooting box, I went to my location inside the woods on
the other end of this large field. I sat on the ground to cover a deer trail where I might have the short-range shot opportunity that I needed for the .44-caliber Cabela’s Buffalo Stainless percussion revolver that I was using. Darkness was approaching as I left to collect my “sports” and take them back to the house.
When I was half-way back to their stand, a shot rang out. This shot was shortly followed by Sgt. Deen’s statement, “He’s down.” I got to the shooting box in time to walk up on the deer together. To say that Hunter was excited would be an understatement. He and his dad had seen the deer approach from over 200 yards and come up to within 40-yards of the blind. Hunter, in his excitement about seeing his “first deer” approach, forgot that he had to turn the electrically-fired rifle on, and then tried to pull the trigger before taking off the safety. In the meantime the deer was moving so that it was partly obscured by a limb, and he had to wait for an unobstructed shot. His dad quietly coached him through the “flusters,” and Hunter made a nice shot through the center of the shoulder.
Well struck through both lungs by a powerful load of 100 grains of Hodgdon’s Magnum Triple Seven pellets and CVA’s AeroLite 300-grain bullet, the buck ran some 50-yards and collapsed in sight of the blind at the edge of the field. Hunter was trembling when he climbed down from the blind and on our walk to the deer. He temporarily overcame his characteristic microphone shyness, and I recorded his remarks as we approached the deer. (These may be heard on my radio show, “Hovey’s Outdoor Adventures” on an episode that first aired on November 7, 2011, on WebTalkRadio.net. To hear this show go to my website www.hoveysmith.com and click on the live link to the show just under the banner. If it is not the current show, it will be available as an archived show by activating a drop-down menu under the “Archived Shows” tab).
Hunter was blooded, and the father-son pair drug the deer across the field to my truck. That evening was spent cleaning the deer, including caping it out for mounting after mom told the pair in no uncertain terms to, “Mount that deer.” The deer was a 5-point buck, about 2-years old, with a symmetrical rack. This was not a buck that I would have taken, but I told Hunter that he could shoot any deer seen. I consider that this was a fine buck for a hunter to take for a first deer, and I was proud to have participated in the event.
The next day’s hunt produced no deer. The quartered deer had been on ice overnight, and I showed the Deens how to cut and package a deer, make deer burger and a custom sausage with less salt, relatively little pepper and no cure. The result is a low-fat healthier fresh sausage that can be used as is, or to make a one-pot meal when added to any vegetables.
This type of hunt and the subsequent processing of the deer into food is an approach that I commonly take in my books such as Backyard Deer Hunting: Converting deer to dinner for pennies per pound, Crossbow Hunting and Practical Bowfishing. These books as well as my blogs are available at www.hoveysmith.com. I also have more than 100 YouTube videos on guns, hunting and wild-game cooking.
As of November, 2011, the now discontinued Electra rifle is available from the on-line outdoor company, Sportsman’s Guide, for prices that range from a little over $200 to about $170. These guns will be available until they sell out, and they are not likely to be re-made. To take a look at them go to www.sportsmansguide.com.
One more photo. Hunter Deen, freshly blooded, at the kill site with his deer.
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