Finally Drew First Blood

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I was not introduced to big game hunting until adulthood.  When I moved to Colorado about 7 years ago, I opened my eyes to a world of year-round mountain recreation: skiing and snowboarding in the winter, mountaineering and rafting in the spring, camping and mountain biking in the summer.  But when autumn came around, I often found myself sitting in a dimly lit sports bar watching football games--not much different than my previous life in Chicago.  So what do people in Colorado do in the autumn?  I quickly found the answer: we hunt.

Since then, the years have gone by and we have developed a great crew of men from all over the state to meet every autumn for both deer & elk rifle season.  Along with them, I've learned how to prepare, scout, locate, stalk, field dress, and pack out wild game from the depths of the Rocky Mountains.  I've done everything...except pull the trigger.  I was starting to get discouraged at the thought of camping out in the cold, waking up before dawn, and hiking for endless miles with 8 pounds of useless wood & steel in my hands.

This year was different.  Every spring, I expected the typical routine of emails flying around between the Elk Camp crew: what season? what area? who is bringing the pasties? etc.  But what I didn't expect was a separate call from Nitro, a core group member aptly named for his intensity towards the hunt:

"Dude, I'm going to put you in for a muzzleloading tag.  You've got five months to buy a muzzleloader and learn how to shoot it."

Well, what choice did I have when he put it that way?  After reading many online forums and reviews of muzzleloading, I settled on a closeout special of a nickel/camo Traditions Buckstalker from Cabela's, and ordered it sight unseen.  

Before long, 'Deer Camp' or 'Muzzle Camp' (we're not sure what to call it yet) came around and I still had not taken any practice shots.  We were just doing a weekend trip (us working stiffs gotta save that PTO for Elk Camp), and the four of us set up a light camp up in the White River National Forest, north of Dotsero, CO.  

  Deer camp

Deer Camp

The first day was uneventful.  I had not much sleep the night before, and had to endure a very harsh ride on an old Polaris Scrambler--not exactly a passenger-friendly ATV.  We bounced around on an old logging trail for a few miles before stopping at a lake to get out and hunt the area.  I ended up finding a nice spot with a large overlook to sit at while the early morning sun moved into the sky.  No sign of deer, though.  However, I heard the many baa's and meh's of a large flock of sheep in the valley below.

View from the lookout

Its probably a good thing I didn't find any deer because I still hadn't shot my new muzzleloader!  We took another harsh ride on the four wheelers back to camp, where I set a target up on a tree and paced out about 50 yards.  

I loaded the powder and a powertip bullet, and took aim.  BOOM! The bullet shot out with a very short and light pull on the trigger.  I loved the trigger pull so much more than the heavy one on my rifle.  When the smoke cleared, I looked out at the target and saw that I had hit right in the center!  I took another shot at about 60 yards and that was all I needed to know how accurate the gun was.


numbnutz's picture

I remember my first deer like

I remember my first deer like it was yesterday. I think that's a mamory that will stay burned into a persons memory bank forever. Congrats one your first deer and with a smokepole to boot. Even though your a late bloomer it's good to see you enjoyed your hunt and became hooked on it. I would love to travel to Colorado for a hunt one of these years. Thank you for sharing your story I really like reading about peoples first hunting experiences. It brings back a lot of memorise for me. I was introduced to hunting at a young agae 5 to be exact. and have been hooked ever since. My irst deer was when I was 12. I can't wait for my kids to be old enough for there first animals too.

Ca_Vermonster's picture

Very nice!  That's a way to

Very nice!  That's a way to write a story, a good mix of photos and narrative.  I enjoyed reading it.

Glad to see you became hooked on the hunting bug.  This is a great example of the other article about Mississippi allowing aoorentice hunts, and not just youth hunts.  Lots of people don't get bitting by that bug until adulthood, as you did, so it pays to open the door to this opportunity for the older people also.

Congrats, and thanks for sharing!  Nice Doe!  And to do it with a muzzleloader, all the more exciting!

ManOfTheFall's picture

Great story, I really enjoyed

Great story, I really enjoyed it. Once again I will have to say it is great to see new people getting involved in the great sport of hunting. I can tell that you had a great time by the way you told your story with alot of enthusiasm. Congratulations on your first kill and hopefully there will be many more stories you have to tell us about your successes. Thanks for sharing your story.

hunter25's picture

Great story and

Great story and congratulations on you success. It's good to see that you nfound out what Colorado is really all about. I've lived here for the better part of my life now with the ski runs nearly in sight from the house and have never even tried it. Just not enough money for that with all the hunting I need to do. I laughed when I saw you mention pasties, not many peole around here have any idea what those are.

Great job again and good luck with your future hunts.

Retired2hunt's picture

Very nice 1st animal - and

Very nice 1st animal - and with the muzzleloader too! Great Job! Goosehunter is correct - now that you have the 1st one the rest seem to be easier to see and shoot. Hats off to you here. I have an old Thompson 54 Cal Renegade that I have yet to shoot any animal with. I'm sticking to my rifle this year as I know I can get one with it.

Maybe next year I'll use the muzzleloader. Your story has given me courage to do so. I'll have to read your story again next spring prior to when I put in for my muzzleloader tag! Thanks for the story!


GooseHunter Jr's picture

Gotta love gettin that first

Gotta love gettin that first harvest under your best.  Seems like once uoi get the first one it just seems to come a little easier, but still just as exciting.  I have hunted big game since I was 12 and I still feel like a kid leading upto to season start and whn the harvest takes place I still shake like it was the first time....if Iever los that I think hunting will have lost some its I hope I never lose it.  Congrats to you on a sucessfull hunt and thanks for sharing it with us.