Your first game animal?


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Apr 2, 2015
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Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation, Saskatoon Gun Dog Club
Canada, USA, Germany, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe
With lots of time on our hands due to the Coronavirus restrictions on travel and public gatherings, I have been reminiscing and sharing stories to help pass the time. I'd like to read about your first successful hunt for large game animals. Please share a short tale, Where & when, what game were you hunting , who were you with, what firearm? etc.

Here's mine, to get us started:

Saskatchewan, Canada, 1973, whitetail doe. I was 15 yrs old, and my family hunted deer the same way we hunted rabbits. Several of us would "push the bush" and a couple of us were waiting "on stand" at the edge of cover to shoot them on the run. I borrowed my brother's .303 #1 SMLE that was "sporterized" by having some of the excess wood cut off. I had sighted in and practised, sorta, by shooting at a cardboard box a couple of times. Hit the box, so I was "ready". Our quota was one either-sex deer each. Meat for the family. And we were "party" hunting, which was acceptable practise way back then, different times. The person on stand was expected to shoot whatever deer came out and the bush pushers would put their tags on the second or third deer. After a few unsuccessful bush pushing sessions and one memorable miss, I was finally on stand again and a doe broke cover and was running hard from left to right at about 120 meters. Missed completely, too far in front the first shot. Reload quick! - corrected my lead, swing with, and I connected on my second shot. The doe went down hard and skidded on her nose. Then a small buck broke cover, and ran past on exactly the same trail at the same speed as the doe. I sent bullets after that buck as fast as I could work the action. But I was so excited that I had shot a deer that the other 8 shots in that old 10 shot magazine were just noise. My brother in law was the first on the scene. He asked me what I shot. I pointed excitedly at the doe. He said it sounded like a battle had just happened. When my brother came up to join us, he asked what all that shooting was about. Brother in law announced "we may have a problem he's got eight deer laying here!" Brother sputtered and said "we don't have that many tags!" It was a a memorable moment. One was enough, and the first one was very good!
Father and I walked into his wood lot to check on a c4 skidder he'd left there the previous spring. Fathers woodlot was only accessible by machine during the winter months when the ground was frozen. The rest of the year the ground leading in was too soft for anything more the an atv to travel.

Father was in the lead with his martini endfield, I was walking a couple yards behind with my double twenty eight. As we passed a piece which had been cut over some years before I noticed a button buck watch father walk passed. As soon as father passed I up with the double and let drive both barrels one behind the other.

Father came back and asked what I had shot at. I told him a deer, he then proceeded to cuff me down through the hard hacks ( local term for scrub brush). After I got my self straightened out I asked him what that was for. He said for shooting a deer with birdshot. I said but father I didn't use bird shot uncle Bernie helped me load some balls into shot shells. That landed me back in the hard hacks again.

After I crawled up out of the brush the secound time father asked me if I'd hit it. To which I said I think so. We found it a few minutes later. On ball had smashed both front shoulders the other ponched just in front of the back hips.

We were probably two miles back and I can still see it as clear as when it happened. Father was quite a big man he picked the deer up and dropped it over my shoulders and said get home.

Looking back now he had every reason to be mad, I was to young at the time to have my own deer tag so he was forced to tag out on a small button buck. I risked damaging a beautiful English 28 with homemade slugs and risked both of our hunting privileges.

As mad as he was he still hung the horns what little there was of them over the barn door and there still hanging there.
I was 15 preparing for the youth hunt with my father. My uncle who bow hunted the farm told us the deer would come out by the pond and walk across the field and jump the fence by a certain tree. Dad and I went a week ahead of season and set up a tent blind about 25 yards of what was normally the downwind side, nestling it into the brush and cutting sticks and branches with a hatchet and sticking them into the ground around the tent for camouflage.The afternoon of the opening day,(I had a 7 am football practice that morning) we came back and snuck into our tent blind, and waited for about 90 minutes. Just like my uncle said, the deer came out by the pond and headed for their fence crossing spot.
A nice large doe was in the lead which suited me just fine. As she got to 40 yards I raised my browning BPS with a Hastings slug barrel, and waited for the express sights to align on her shoulder. As they did the shotgun seemed to fire itself, sending a brenneke slug home with a audible “whop”. She ran about 50 yards and laid down. After 30 minutes we retrieved my trophy.
Upon field dressing her we found a 12 gauge hole in her heart.
September, 1950. I was 10 years old and used to hunt partridge in the apple orchard after school. I'd find a good spot sitting back to a tree and wait for them to come in and eat the fallen apples. I had my Mossberg 22LR with a seven shot magazine and a J. C. Higgins 4x scope. This one day I was on stand waiting for birds when I heard something coming through the dead leaves that did not sound like a partridge. I had no clue as to what it was but I was ready. Soon the something came into view --a small whitetail doe.

It was deer season and both species were fair game so I opened fire when she put her head down for an apple. She was about 10 to 15 yards off. First shot hit just behind the shoulder and she kind of humped up and stood there so I fired again. I had never seen a deer that close, say nothing about being able to shoot one. Not knowing what else to do I shot again and again til I ran dry. Seven rounds into her and she was still standing. I had a spare mag so I quickly reloaded and commenced firing. Seven more 22LRs and she finally fell down.

I was so excited and thrilled I started hollering and ran back up to the house. Dad was out in the barn and ran out wondering what all the shooting was about. I stammered something about I had just shot a great huge deer and it was down in the orchard laying under an apple tree. He calmed me down and we went down to the orchard to see my prize. My first big game animal (to me).

When we got to her, he informed me that it was a small one, about 100 lbs, and that I would have to tag her. In those days it was legal to hunt on your own land if you were 10 years or older. I qualified.

We dragged her up to the house and dressed her out, loaded her into the truck and set off to the tagging station. The tagger didn't really believe I had shot her myself until I told him the story and Dad backed me up. He could see how excited I still was so he believed me.
1968, 12 yrs old north central Saskatchewan. The tradition for my dad and his hunting buddies was to take their sons out to moose camp once they completed their Hunter safety class so it was my turn. Seemed to me I was spending a lot of time pushing bush for the guys and not doing much hunting. On this particular morning they told me to just hunt around camp with the old pre64 Winchester model 94, 30-30. No sooner had the men left camp I headed out down a cutline, not 200 yds from camp a young bull stepped out at about 50 yds. Cocked the hammer back and let fly, one shot, one dead moose. 15 minutes later the old man came huffing back into camp wondering what the hell I was shooting at. Told him I shot a moose, he didn't believe a word I said, I took him over to the moose and made him a believer. I asked him, what's next? He looked at me with a sly grin, threw me his hunting knife and said you shot it you gut it. He and his hunting buddies sat around watching me and drinking whiskey. That night we ate the best liver and onions I have ever eaten. I will never forget that day. Still have these moose antlers hanging in the garage.
@cls , that was a pretty good start !
Antelope hunting in Montana when I was about 14.
My dad’s good friend Steve was a real cowboy: didn’t talk much, worked hard, and didn’t wait around for much. Steve took us hunting by Livingston. He ran a elk camp and liked to hunt on horseback. We set off into the open foothills in what would be about 6-10 miles of riding until we found an antelope herd. I remember Steve saying “there they are, we have to cut down below to catch them.” Little did I know that catching up to a herd of antelope involved a full gallop. A good horse loves to run, and run they did! By the time Steve reigned up on his mount I think I was in more of a froth that my horse. We dismounted, pulled our rifles from the scabbards and my dad held the horses while we completed about a 300 yard hike to the nearest vantage point. Peeking over the rise Steve declared we were in a good position and I was to shoot with him at the count of three. We steadied our rifles from a prone position and then Steve began the countdown. I was nervous, shaking and excited at the same time. 3, 2, and I let my shot go before he said one. This was a surprise to both of us, needless to say Steve wasn’t pleased, but he quickly lined up and dropped a nice buck from the herd.

The doe I had taken aim at was left by the herd. I had shot low and opened up her belly, she began to move away slowly. I dropped into a creek bed and sloshed through a few hundred yards of mud and cold water. Finding an opening in the brush next to the creek, I was able to take aim again and put her down for good. The emotion of taking a beautiful animal coupled with embarrassing myself made for a complicated mix of feelings. Steve never said a word about the mistake, he was a real gentlemen about it.
After gutting both antelope we got them back to the truck. I slept all the way home, my jeans and boots soaked all the way to mid thigh.

Later, Steve showed me how to skin and butcher. I’ll never forget how gently he handled his knife and the animal. He silently demonstrated through actions what it means to respect the game that we hunt.
1997, 16yo me was at long last given the permission to go out and hunt my first animal, using a Winchester Mod70 pre-64, chambered in .243
After a many years of tutoring by my father - he made 100% sure that I absolutely understood the importance of hunting, why we hunt, how we hunt, and everything imaginable that goes with it.

He accompanied me on the day when I took this 15" Common Reedbuck in the Greytown area of KZN.
The final stalk, the locating of the ram in through the scope, the shot being fired and seeing the ram go down is still remembered like it happened yesturday.
The cornerstone of my hunting career was set that day.

I am stronlgy contemplating on sourcing a cape and having the horns mounted.
Yes, I do still have the horns and I do absolutely cherish them.
Mine was in southeastern Saskatchewan. It was 1981 and I was 12 years old. My Dad bought my uncle’s Winchester 94 .30-30 for me. First day of the season I was so excited that the school day seemed a week long to me. As soon as I got home from school we headed out into the field behind our farm. We found a real nice whitetail buck right away. Dad got me into position, I lined up, squeezed the trigger....and missed! Several days and a few misses later we were out again. Dad had me posted on the downwind side of a bush. He started through on the other side and right away a group of a half dozen does and fawns came busting out about 60 yards from me. I lined up on the last deer and fired. Before I could shoot again they were already into another bush that was nearby. Dad came out and asked me what happened and I told him I’d missed again. He told me we’d follow the tracks into the bush and look for blood. We soon found some drops and 10 yards into the trees, there lay my button buck! That was a feeling I’ll never forget! I can’t find a pic of it right now, but if I do I’ll attach it.

@Boela that was a great story. You’ve got to get a cape for it and then show us a pic!
The following recounts the first animal that I had the opportunity to hunt outside of South Africa.

It was 2007, I was managing a big organic dairy farm in Pembrokeshire, Wales and happened to be part of a study group of 10 guys. One of the English guys in this group happened to be an avid wing shooter and we talked about hunting and shooting whenever we had the opportunity to do so.

One Wednesday afternoon I got a phone call from him, wanting to know if I would like to join them on a Wood Pigeon shoot, they had planned for that Saturday, in the Dorset area of England. It was my weekend off, so I excitedly accepted the invitation.

I left Wales on the Friday afternoon and drove to England, arriving in Dorset late Friday night.

Saturday morning, we were placed at our allocated spots around a forest, overlooking newly harvested fields. Wood Pigeons were flying around in abundance and we had no problem taking quite few of these beautiful birds. I could not help but notice the Roe Deer running through the field from time to time.

Mid-morning the property owner arrived, bringing freshly made tea and sandwiches. The conversation imminently turned to deer hunting and me being the only one really interested, got offered a Sika Stag! I was given a Remington 700 in .243, which I gladly accepted. I then drove with the property owner to one of his other farms 20 minutes from there.

Upon entering the farm, we saw no less than 15 or so Sika in a Ryegrass planted field forming a valley. We had to skirt round the eastern side of the field making use of hedgerows to get the sun and wind in our favor.

The last 100m or so, I had to cover by myself, since I now had to get into range in full view of the deer, with a 1-foot high Scotch Thistle being the only cover I had available. I leopard crawled the 100m cradling the rifle in my arms, trying my best to keep the Thistle between my 6’6” frame and the deer. Reaching the thistle, I began to scout the surrounding forest edges.

An unnoticed and decent sized stag roared from the forest edge, giving away his position. Although not a huge stag, he was clearly the biggest in the herd and I did not hesitate in getting my crosshairs onto him. The rifle’s bipod made for a very steady 200m shot. The stag dropped in his tracks. I remained lying in position behind the Thistle for a few minutes, before slowly leopard crawling my way back from where I had come, ensuring that the herd remained as calm as possible.

When I look at the mount today, I recall this hunt with fondness and this definitely earns a spot in my top-10 hunts that I have done ‘til this day.

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It was 1990 I was 14 years old Famer gave me a 308 musgrave in my hands asked me If I knew how to get to the natural fountain on the farm and shoota warthog for staff rations.
Off I went on my own found rocks that looked like warthogs sleeping under a tree and they were moved in couldnt shoot then one of them lifted their heads looking in my directions. I decided that's the one I'm going to take fired and pandemonium broke out with pigs running all directions and me also running away scared that one of the pigs would charge.

Heard a screaming sound very loud and turned arouond and stopped there was a pig trying to run but could not as his backlegs were helpless. Reloaded built some guts and went back and finnished him off. This was not the pig I aimed at this one was much younger. Scared worried and confused I dragged the pig to the closest shade pilled on some branches for the vultures and jackal. I was almost on my way for the long hour walk and contemplating what the farmer would say since I shot this young pig and not a proper one. When I just felt that I need to double check and further away about 40 meters where the grass started to grow again I could vaquely see another rock and yes it was the big sow I aimed at stone dead.

I had no idea what a FMJ and a soft nose was at that time but the farmer let me hunt with military 7.62x51 Nato FMJ bullet. Bullet flew through the warthog, exited and hit the young one. So with my first one I got a double.
Lekker Boela how about some more pictures of your trophy room looks interesting.
My very 1st game animal was a sambhur deer taken in the outskirts of Nagpur in the Maharashtra state of India in 1951 ( I was 10 years old at the time . ) I used my maternal grand father , Sepoy Jalaluddin Khan's .405 Winchester calibre Model 1895 lever rifle , loaded with ICI Kynoch 300 grain soft point cartridges .
As a 10 year old that .405 would seem like a cannon! Well done! Do you remember what it felt like at the time, as a small boy with a big rifle?
Will tell you about my daughters first animal just because it might mean more to me than my own first. My daughter Elle was 14 I think and had drawn a heavily hunted local unit for a mule deer buck, general season. She was busy with dance and school and only had Friday nights and Saturdays for hunting. Elle's grandpa Doug lives at the base of Mohogany mtn which is at the base of might Timpanogos mtn. Grandpa Doug is a serious mule deer hunter and every night of the week he spent picking the mtn apart with his Leica spotting scope, which is so massive that it deserves its own name and I call it Butch. Doug's brother happened to locate a group of deer over 20 strong with several yearling 2 point bucks and let Doug in on the location. From a church parking lot the two men watched the deer one night. Friday morning rolled around and Doug was there with Butch and happened to find a nice four point buck in the next canyon over from the main group of deer.
I had been taking Elle out shooting as often as time allowed and she had become quite good with my Rem. 700 in 7mm-08. I bought a bunch of federal fusion factory ammo and it shot so well I decided to have her use it for hunting rather than my handloads. The fusion was something like $14 a box on sale. I was having her shoot off sticks and she had become quite good to 200 yards, provided she had plenty of time.
Saturday we met grandpa Doug in early afternoon and made the 40 minute moderate hike to a bench where Doug thought the deer would be visible from. Being a Saturday there was a motley assortment of mtn bikers, horse riders and other athletes enjoying the trails. We had another friend hike up to join us named Jim. He is a houndsman and helped me kill my last cougar and he hunts, and traps a good deal with Doug. He was enjoying something from a big thermos from his pack as we all starred through our optics waiting for the magic hour.
On a side note, I had started taking a new medication that proved to irritate my gastric system immensely. Trying not to embarrass my teenager or my father in law I was kind off hanging away from the group. The doctor pulled me off that medication the next week! I was 100 yards north of the group and saw the buck slip from a group of oak brush down mtn into a nasty little canyon. We all focused on that canyon. Doug called his nephew named Chase and had him pull out his giant Vortex scope (hasn't earned a name yet) and he started watching from down in the valley. From his angle he was able to spot the buck just before it bedded in some oak brush. We set Elle up on the sticks at about 300 yards and I was praying mightily the buck would come down hill some more as evening came on.
Many other deer got out of bed and where feeding all around us and Chase would call us and say "can you see that fork horn just south of you? She can get him easy. . ." By then she had determined she wanted that bigger buck or nothing else. With only 15 minutes of light left we determined to have Jim hike up the hill and let his scent bump the deer up. Well Jim had emptied his thermos by then and was a bit clumsy-to the point where even Elle commented that maybe he was sick! She had never seen someone intoxicated before and Jim was just enough to be noticed, even by a teenager. Doug was none too happy and I thought it was kinda funny. Jim made his way uphill to the same level as the buck but maybe 200 yards farther north and the deer busted out hard, sidehilling at 300 yards on my rangefinder. Elle was sitting on her bottom with rifle on the short sticks. We did the game of "can you see him in the scope-when he stops-on the shoulder-" and all the coaching two excited grown men can offer. Suddenly the shot broke and to everyone's surprise, except Elle's, the buck dropped, shot through the heart at 300 yards by a skinny little blond girl. She was actually laughing at me and Doug because we were jumping up and down hooting and high fiving and she didn't understand all the silliness. She had no idea how many people had been involved nor the efforts taken to get her first big game animal. Btw we took off our trendy blaze orange for the pictures as the required orange badly reflected the flash of the camera for pictures.
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As a 10 year old that .405 would seem like a cannon! Well done! Do you remember what it felt like at the time, as a small boy with a big rifle?
I had actually practiced shooting that .405 Winchester calibre rifle at un husked coconuts for 4 days ... before my grand father took me out on that shikar , Long Walker . Back in those days, in India ... most guardians would teach their children ( or grand children ) to shoot , by making them take aim at coconuts hanging from trees .

The recoil was actually pretty disconcerting . My grand father's .405 Winchester calibre Model 1895 lever rifle used to have a butt plate that was made out of steel . It would actually hurt my shoulder pretty severely . In around 1948 ... my grand father had a home made " recoil pad " put on the butt stock of the rifle , which was made from goat skin .

I will never forget that sambhur deer shikar in my life . ever .
My grand father had supervised the beaters to drive the sambhur deer in our direction . I developed quite a fascination for beat hunting after that .
Then , in 1961 .... I became a professional shikaree for Allwyn Cooper Limited and I began to despise conducting beats ! When guiding shikars for royal Bengal tigers , I was more often than not .... assigned on " beat duty " .
Yes, I was introduced to hunting as a beater too, loved driven hunts, eventually came to despise driven game hunts, and have since come almost full circle. I do appreciate the method now on rare occasions.

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