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My Best Day in the Field

By Bill Adelman
12/28/14 -- My son, now 47, was 10 on his first deer hunt. The day was far more instructional than productive. That means "do this, do that,” or "don't do this, don't do that." At 11, he joined me while carrying an empty 30-30. Same do this' and that's, but be quieter and visually attentive. Look for movement or part of an animal, not a whole deer. Last year we found a 4-page line drawing of how to field dress a deer in Field & Stream magazine. We discussed it and the value of said information. He cut it out, folded it, put it in his wallet and carried it everywhere. Fast forward to when he was 18.

Bill Adelman, with his buck he got in Wyoming.
Photo of the results of the trip I’m describing have been lost but here I am with the buck I got this year in Wyoming. Photo courtesy of­­­­ author

My wife had been deer hunting for five years and was still awaiting her first shot. My son arrived at a predetermined intersection after dark the night before opening day, and while heading back to camp, we spotted two bucks crossing a small opening off to our left. Our decision was to hunt there the next morning. After setting them up, I took off around the hill in order to push back in their direction. In short order, I heard three shots. One of the bucks had wandered from cover about 140 yards from my wife, she fired three times, was shocked when the deer collapsed and upon closer inspection, we noticed that the buck had three entrance holes from her 243. As it's so hot in California, we did all the work and took her buck to town in order to hang it in a cooler. As it was only 9 a.m. on opening day, my son had asked if he could remain in camp while we were gone. After all of the fatherly warnings, repressing my concerns and having almost complete trust in his decision making ability, it would be acceptable. After all, he was 18.

Upon returning to camp, we found my son sitting in the shade acting very nonchalant, not his normal attitude in hunting camp. The grin gave it away. He had gone out after we left and harvested a trophy 4X4 in an oak studded canyon. The buck was too large for him to haul out by himself, although having that deer hanging in camp would have made his day. We all went to assist in the retrieval of his buck, locating it under a huge pile of oak leaves, hidden there so that no other hunter would spot and abscond with it, I commented how well he had done when field dressing the animal. You know where this is going. He pulled out and unfolded that four page line drawing and followed every step exactly as diagrammed. The bloody fingerprints on those pages made them all the more valuable. Our second trip to town that afternoon was filled with jubilation, and when the butcher commented, "you're back again;” it was pure love and happiness in my heart.

So there you have it. The proudest, happiest and most fulfilling day of deer hunting one could ask for, all without ever raising the rifle to my shoulder. And now, as we're planning next year’s hunt, 29 years later, every minute of that day so long ago is as vivid in my mind as if it had happened yesterday. I hope you enjoyed it, too.

Bill Adelman is a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of California (OWAC).

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