Deer gun season is almost here

Adam Johnson, 16, got this impressive buck on the first day of this year's youth gun season in Delaware County.

By Dan Armitage, host of Buckeye Sportsman

Deer hunters: break out the guns!

Each year about this time, as the popular deer gun season arrives, I am goaded by my 10-year-old son into telling about my first deer harvest, which he finds hilarious.

Me, not so much.

I was a late-blooming hunter, entering the fold as a 30-something nimrod who was quickly bitten by the sport. I was invited to hunt deer during my first season afield by a group of farmers about my age who met each morning of the hunt in a low-ceilinged, wood-stove-heated corner of a weathered pig barn. One had allowed me to hunt rabbits and pheasants earlier in the season, and invited me to join their daily deer drives during gun week.

I carried a Stevens side-by-side 12-gauge I had purchased new that autumn at the JC Penney Outlet in Columbus for $150, and wore a cheap cotton camo jumpsuit intended to hide me from waterfowl as well as whitetails. None of which was lost on the loose-knit rural bunch, who recognized me as the urban nimrod that I was, yet didn’t seem to hold it against me — most of them, anyway.

After “dogging” for several drives early in the week, one morning the guys placed me in a prime tree-stand, where I promptly fell asleep waiting for the distant drivers to push deer my way. A shrill whistle from one of my fellow “posters” patiently waiting nearby, who had noticed my lack of attention, alerted me to a doe headed my way at a leisurely pace.

With little time for buck fever — let alone no buck in sight — I dropped the doe with a pair of slugs and fairly fell out of the tree with excitement at bagging my first deer. The guys all gathered round and someone produced a well-worn-but-razor-sharp Buck knife and handed it to me, after which they all sort of stood around waiting for me to make a move. When it dawned on them that this “city boy” was contemplating where to make the first cut, directions on what to do with the blade commenced. About that time, someone produced a video camera and started documenting the scene.

It was not lost on me that my audience was comprised of guys who had been slaughtering, skinning and butchering their own meat their entire lives, and it was clearly a case of nervous peer pressure that sent the wayward blade deep into the doe’s gut during one fateful cut. That slip of hand released partially digested, pellet-shaped “droppings” to float in a body cavity quickly filling with steaming blood and bile.  Suddenly, the fragrant combo resembled too closely the CocoPuff’s cereal I had enjoyed for breakfast about an hour earlier and was just as suddenly having trouble digesting myself. That’s when the dry heaving — and the guffaws — commenced, with the entire performance captured on tape. Let’s just say it was all downhill from there.

To my chagrin, that footage was re-played among the pig barn clan every December for a decade, until urban sprawl swallowed the farms and banished the hunters — if not the deer — from the suddenly suburban landscape.

I make sure to point that out whenever my son and I drive over that way. So, I guess it’s my fault that the tale perseveres.

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