View Full Version : First Whitetail!

November 26, 2004, 07:38 AM
Because my father worked in the oilfield, we traveled and lived overseas a lot when I was growing up, and I never got to hunt as a kid. As such, I only took up hunting as an adult last year. My wife's family has a lot of good deer land up in North Louisiana, and I have been hunting this land since last year. Living in Houston, I only get out 1-2 times per year.

This year I decided to take a week off at Thanksgiving to hunt, and I'm still at the inlaws in North Louisiana using a borrowed dialup account, so I can't post too much or upload pictures yet, but I wanted to share with my friends here that my hunting trip has been an unqualified success despite spotty beginnings!!

The week started with two solid days of rains, including some of the worst storms around here in years. My first two days of hunting were essentially a bust, and I only spent about 45 minutes in the stand the first day before thunder convinced me that it was time to head for the house.

The third day wasn't raining, but was so blustery that nothing was moving, and all I saw was a skunk despite almost 8 hours in the stand. However, by the end of the day I had decided to move my stand to a spot about two hundred yards over that looked more promising. A very fortuitous move, I might add....

I had been hunting from a climbing stand right on the edge of a fire lane that overlooked a small creek on the property. I decided to move further into the woods along the same creek, closer to a thicket of hardwoods where it appeared (and sounded) that a number of deer were bedding down. I set up in a tall pine, about 30 feet off the ground on the side of a hill overlooking the creek and the hardwood thicket.

Day four was yesterday, and I spent about 4 hours in the stand at the new location before leaving for Thanksgiving lunch at my wife's uncle's house (a long-standing family tradition.) I had heard movement in the thicket on and off, but had yet to see anything.

At about 8:30 two young does happened to come over the crest of the hill I was sitting on and walked from my left, directly under my stand, and then proceeded along the creek bed to my right. They stopped briefly under my stand to munch on some grass and clover, but heard sounds in the thicket and bolted. I had a clean shot at either of them, and given that they were the first deer I had seen while hunting (just started last season and only hunted a few days last year) I was sorely tempted to take one. However, for a number of reasons (including the hope that the sound they and I heard was a buck) I chose not to.

Seems my choice was the right one this time....

After sharing lunch with my wife's family, and taking some ribbing from my in-laws about not taking either of the does, I headed back to the woods. I got to my stand a little before 4pm, giving me almost an hour and a half before sunset. I climbed the tree, got situated, and prepared to wait.

I didn't have to wait long. Almost immediately I started hearing rustling in the thicket in front of me. This continued for almost 20 minutes, then the rustling turned into outright crashing. I had heard from my wifes cousin that they had been having some trouble with poachers on this land, and I was convinced what I was hearing was either a buck, or a poacher. Being prepared for either I readied my Savage 308 scout.

Within a few more moments I saw the body of a deer approaching the creek through the thicket, and heading directly for my stand! :eek: At first through the thicket it looked to be a doe, but when I glassed it low and behold, a rack!! Because I didn't have a clear shot through the thicket I decided to wait him out and hope he continued moving to me.

As luck would have it, he crossed the creek directly in front of me, and started up the hill directly to my stand. By then I had shouldered my rifle and was watching him through my scope, waiting for a clear shot. At that moment I realized that although he was facing me directly and it would have to be a clean neck shot to take him, this would be my best opportunity. He was moving up the hill toward me, and was about 30 feet below, and 30 feet in front of my position.

I took the shot, and put a 168gr soft-point in the left front of his neck, exiting just over the right shoulder. This shot stopped him in his tracks, and made him stumble, but did not drop him. I came up out of my seat, working the bolt, and simultaneously shouting "DROP!!" at the buck, hoping he would begin to bleed out.

Realizing after a few seconds he was not about to drop, I shouldered my rifle again, and took aim for another neck shot. Just as I squeezed the shot off he ducked, turned, and bolted to my left, and I missed high. He ran about 30 yards up the hill to my left before I could chamber another round, and this time took a shot with him on the run, aiming just behind the left shoulder.

This was the coup-de-gras. The round entered just behind the left shoulder and exited the right side of the neck, severing the jugular. He dropped almost instantly and was dead within seconds.

At this point I new he had a nice rack, but had never had an opportunity to count the points. Lowering my gear and climbing down as quickly as I could safely, I ran over to count.... Eight VERY nicely balanced points with a sturdy base and (I would measure later) a 16 inch spread. :D The only calamity was that the two neck shots at close range left the neck and shoulders with two gaping wounds, making a shoulder mount almost impossible. However, the rack alone will still look nice gracing the wall of my study. (Assuming I can talk my wife into it... still open for debate.... ;) )

My thanks again for all of the encouragement and advice I have received both directly and indirectly from TFL. I will be sure to post pictures as soon as possible when I get back to Houston. Should be Saturday or Sunday.

I hope you and your family had a joyful Thanksgiving! I know I have much to be thankful for today!! :)

Dean C
November 26, 2004, 09:31 AM
Congrats on the eight point (4 pt. on my side of the mountains). Anxious to see the pix. Great writing too. I felt like I was hunting with you. Based on my success this year, I wish I had been hunting with you. Anyway, congrats again and happy Thanksgiving.

November 26, 2004, 10:52 AM
Western four or eastern eight either way nicely done. Congratulations

Long Path
November 26, 2004, 03:28 PM
I don't see what rifle you used? Your SMLE? (I've hunted with a couple of 'em, but never got to shoot a deer with one. Always wanted to. One old buck I let go as it was early in the season and he was just too small, and another nice buck I gritted my teeth and played "Catch and Release," because I didn't have a deer tag in that state while elk hunting.)

What load? Yes, I see 168g (which leads me to believe it was an '06 or a .308?), what precise load? How did the bullets do?

Also, you thinking of going for lung shots next?


November 26, 2004, 07:58 PM
LP, I used my Savage Scout in .308 Winchester. I was tempted to use my Savage No4Mk1*, but didn't want to leave anything to chance on my first hunt and know that Scout will perform. My next hunt will unquestionably be with that No4.

The load was a commercial Federal hunting cartrige. I can't find the box so I'm not sure exactly. I do remember it is 168gr softpoint, but not much else. If I can find the box I'll let you know. To me it seems the bullet performed well, especially given the close range. Both shots left exit wounds that were about 3" in diameter and did significant damage to the surrounding tissue.

As for neck vs. lung shots, I would have preferred to take a lung shot, but never had a decent angle. The first shot he was facing me directly looking up a slope, so all I had exposed were the neck, head, and rear haunches. On the second hit he was running from me and was almost directly away. (If dead away is 12 o'clock, think 11:00-11:30) I was afraid if I aimed far enough back to get a good lung shot I would clip the guts along the way. Having now gutted an animal first hand, I think next time I will make a better shot. I could have safely shot further back behind the shoulder, but was not sure of this at the time.

Thanks all for your congratulations. I'll have pics up hopefully tomorrow night. :)

Long Path
November 26, 2004, 09:54 PM
Autopsies are instructive, aren't they? :)

Darn, I was really hoping you'd used your SMLE. Sounds like the range would've been great for one. BTW, I found that older plain Winchester Whitebox 180g RNSP and Remington 180 RNSP works quite well through some No 4 Mk I's.

When you mentioned the quick follow-up shots, I thought sure that you had the Enfield (they are quick!), but that Savage Scout sure has a fast bolt, doesn't it? I love that big ol' golfball of a bolt handle. Looks funny-- racks fast!

Forgot to say: Congratulations!

November 27, 2004, 02:17 AM

If you haven’t hacked off the antlers yet you can make a real neat European mount (Skull) with your trophy. I have done them the hard way: boiling the skull and pulling off all the meat and innards etc and have done it the easy way. I much prefer the easy way.

First cut the deer’s head off at the first vertebrae of the neck. Then bury the head in the garden or flowerbed just under the surface. You don't have to skin the head. Do not bury the antlers. Next get yourself a metal or sturdy plastic bucket and cover the rack. Weigh down the bucket with a heavy rock or bricks so nothing can tip it over. Here in MI if I bury the head in Nov., I can dig it up the following July. In Texas it might not take as long. Carefully loosen the dirt around the antlers and pull the now perfectly cleaned skull out of the ground. Then all you do is wash it off with the hose. There will be no odor and the skull is as clean as can be. If some of the cartilage is loose glue it with jell crazy glue. The color of the skull will be beige. Some like the skull really white. If that’s the case soak it in a solution of hydrogen peroxide and leave it out in the sun to bleach.

I have done this with doe and buck skulls and other animal skulls including cows and it works great every time. :cool:

November 27, 2004, 12:55 PM
Good idea with European mount. It is my personal favorite way to display deer. One added suggestion i have found to be helpful is wrap the antlers in black plastic an electrical tape to prevent fading.

How about showing us a picture of this beauty?

High Mountain Hunting Supply

November 27, 2004, 04:32 PM
Just got back and finished uploading pics. Here you go!

Unfortunately I forgot the camera at the house, so I didn't get a shot of him where he fell, but had to take some back at the house.

First, me with the big fella'.


Next, closer shot of him.


Unfortunately, as you can see the horns were hacked off before I saw the posts about the European mount. Anyway, here is the mount that it made.


Here are some shots of the stand and surrounding woods.

First the stand from a distance.


Next, view from the stand (only about half way up) looking directly down at the creek. He was coming up this hill looking directly up at me when I took the first shot.


Finally, a shot looking to the left out of the stand at the area where he fell. He was running up this hill away from me and nearing the top when I took the last shot.


Hope y'all enjoy!!

Long Path
November 27, 2004, 05:04 PM
That's a fine mounting job. Better than most, for sure! You can do the European mount next time. :) Nice first buck! Thanks for the pictoral demo.

November 27, 2004, 07:26 PM
I enjoyed your pictures and post very much.

November 28, 2004, 01:40 AM
you mention that your first shot didn't drop the animal. This was the exact indication from my first whitetail, shot with a 222 Remington and a 9x scope.
It stood like a statue for a few seconds, long enough for me to chamber another round. Then it toppled over. Because it was dark, I couldn't see the entry wound. After we cleaned it, I saw that I was the luckiest hunter in the world on that day. The round had severed the animal's vetebral column in the neck, cleanly in two. The way that it stood for seconds before falling, was something right out of a scary movie. Personaly, it spooked me for a couple of seasons before I went hunting again.

November 29, 2004, 10:32 AM
Guys, this ol' buck couldn't have fallen to a nicer guy.

For those of you who don't know him, Lee is one of the most genuinely good people it's been my good fortune to call a friend.

He's one of those people who would truly give you the shirt off his back. Folks like that are few and far between these days.

November 29, 2004, 12:53 PM

Thanks for your kind words, Ronnie. Personally I think you're just saying that because you know I'm still holding your Glock mag hostage.... :p

November 29, 2004, 06:52 PM
Outstanding - thanks for the post / report!

December 17, 2004, 05:10 AM
Bucks like yours are not easy to find in La.
Enjoyed your pix very much.

December 17, 2004, 05:44 PM
Nice story. It sounds like you are catching on fast! Moving your stand good move, that is what hunting is all about, figuring it out on your own. I know for me it took me a few years of hunting before "it" clicked and I started to understand whitetail habits, taking advantage of funnels and staging areas ect..... I read it in magazines for years but all the deer I took before that point were, I feel, just dumb luck. Now if you really want to enlighten yourself pick up a bow this spring, shoot it through out the summer and be ready to hunt all the stages of the rut next year, which in most areas starts before firearms season, that is when you'll really start having fun.

I feel that bow hunting makes you so much better of a hunter and can really pay off even if you never kill an animal with your bow you will be a better gun hunter and will take better quality animals and more of then.

December 17, 2004, 10:22 PM
Bassman-Dan, I'm flattered that your first post was on this thread!

NSO_w/_SIG, I have to say I am really tempted to take up bow hunting next year. It definitely seems much more challenging, and the idea of being able to take game with my "own two hands" (as it were) is appealing on many levels. Part of the general appeal of hunting to me is being able to literally put food on the table. It is even a more compelling idea to be able to do this with (relatively) primative tools. Maybe it's just the latent cave-man in me.... :D

I would like to think that this buck makes me some skilled hunter, but I have to admit that there was just as much luck (or more) as practice in it. I definitely learned a lot this year, but realize there is much much more I still need to learn. Thanks for the encouragement!

December 20, 2004, 06:58 PM
Great hunt, man! Congratulations!

Which part of North Louisiana were you hunting? I used to go to college at La. Tech in Ruston and have been all over Shreveport and Monroe areas and everywhere in between.

All the best,

Greg (Mississippi Man)

December 21, 2004, 12:11 AM
Thanks Greg! I just finished reading your story, and sounds like you had a good hunt too! I was hunting outisde of Ringgold, about 20 min SE of Shreveport. My sister and brother-in-law live in Ruston and we are up there all the time. (In fact, heading that way next week....) :)

December 21, 2004, 10:57 PM
I was hunting outisde of Ringgold, about 20 min SE of Shreveport. My sister and brother-in-law live in Ruston and we are up there all the time. (In fact, heading that way next week....)

I know where you are talking about (Ringgold). Lots of good deer huntin' all over those parts. Have a safe trip!


January 3, 2005, 08:13 PM
im from sask canada and we have both white tails and mulies here but mule deer hunting isnt hunting its shooting in fact today a saw a 3 point a four point and a six point all of them wall class but the whitetails are the real challenge

i got a 5 point white tail this year (10 pointer for those who count em that way) anyway five a side and i was lucky to tag him on the closing day but the thing that got me is that his friend that came out of the bush after he fell over in front of my .270 at a dead run was bigger with at least one more point a true rare occurence to see 2 biguns like that together

good luck on future hunts