Submitted By: John Pastore, Southbury CT
It was the first day of the Junior Hunter Training deer season in the State of Connecticut. The state had reserved the first two Saturdays prior to the regular season for junior hunters and my 15 year old grandson Michael had just received his license in the spring. It would be his first deer hunt.
Michael and I prepared the night before by laying out our hunting gear and preparing his shotgun. He would be using a 12 gauge Remington 870 pump action shotgun with a 20 inch deer barrel and iron sights. No scope. We dry fired the shotgun in the basement to make sure that he had no last minute questions about sighting. We also practiced pulling back on the pump in the event that he would require a second shot. After we were confident that there were no additional preparations to make we each retired to bed for an early sleep.
It was 4:00 AM when the alarm sounded and I walked over to Michael’s room to wake him up. We prepared for the big day and headed out to the state forest in western Connecticut. We arrived at 5:30 AM and gathered our gear. Michael was full of excitement. We sprayed buck urine on the bottom of our boots to mark our trail. Michael then put on his pack and slung his shotgun over his shoulder. We were off to the ground blind that we built months prior. The path was marked with reflective tacks.
The ground blind overlooked a swamp area. It was an “L” shaped rock ledge of which our backs were up against. Looking over the swamp area without being detected was made possible by a stack of dead logs and branches that we positioned to our left and directly in front of us. The blind was chest high.
We arrived at our ground blind about an hour before sunrise. We placed doe in estrus scent in the swamp approximately 60 yards away from our position. Once settled I had Michael load three shotgun slugs into his shotgun. He was required to load two slugs and then put one in the chamber before loading a third because of a plug required by the State of Connecticut. Rifles are not allowed on state land in the state of Connecticut. He then put on the safety and the hunt was on.
It was just before 10:00 AM when Michael looked to his left and spotted a buck coming down the ledge behind us. “Papa, a buck,” Michael whispered. He pointed to his left.
“Where?” I asked. I didn’t see it. There were still some leaves on the trees and the buck was out of sight. Michael pointed to a patch of brush to the left.
I then lifted the deer grunt call that was hanging around my neck and grunted once. The grunt setting was on “Young Buck.” After one minute passed without any activity I grunted again. It was then that the buck appeared like a ghost directly in front of us. Its lower body was mostly visible. I alerted Michael at once. I advised him to take his time and patiently wait for a broadside view that would allow for a successful shot.
The entire buck was now visible. I couldn’t believe how big it was. The buck was walking along our trail. It must have picked up the scent of the buck urine that we had sprayed onto our boots. Michael waited patiently for the perfect shot.
“Bang!” Michael took his shot with the buck standing 40 yards away. The buck jumped up into the air and landed back down on its hooves. I was sure that he hit it but the buck continued to walk along our previous path. I couldn’t believe that it didn’t run away. Michael had already had a second slug in the chamber of his shotgun.
The buck continued to walk following the trail of our buck scent. “Wait for another good shot,” I advised him. “Bang!” This time the buck went down.
Michael put another slug in the chamber and put the safety on. We walked over to the buck. I couldn’t believe how big it was. I told Michael that this Buck is not only big but it has some years on it. It had a thick rack with seven points. I shook his hand and we got to work dressing the buck. It took us three hours to drag it back to the Jeep. I immediately called the butcher and told him that we were on our way with my grandson’s first deer.
When we arrived at the butcher he said that the buck was probably 4-5 years old and close to 200 pounds dressed. It was a day to remember.
NOTE: Michael’s other grandfather passed away earlier that morning. Michael is convinced that he had two grandfathers helping him on his first deer hunt.
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.