Emotional Rollercoaster, Defining Moment in Nature
By Lisa Dismuke
Learn to Hunt: Creating New Hunter-Conservationists for the PF & QF Mission
Lisa had some experience with rifles and shotguns, had been hunting once before, and was looking to connect with her family and friends through hunting. Looking for knowledge and resources to get her started she attended the first Women on the Wing (WOTW) Learn to Hunt event in Georgia hosted at Quail Country Lodge. Here is the story of her first hunt.
I woke up at 3 a.m. the morning of the hunt. My mind couldn’t stop rehearsing all the educational details from the day before, and the anticipation of the unknown had me anxious. I laid there until 5:30 then prepared for the morning ahead. Every single mentor volunteering at the hunt presented so much knowledge, experience and ultimately love for hunting. I was truly blessed to have Mr. Tracy Hatfield as my mentor. We made our way to Cypress Knoll after dropping off all the other hunters.
It was a very foggy morning, and daylight was just breaking as we made our way up into the treestand. Mr. Tracy explained to me this was exactly the time he liked to walk into the stand in the mornings because he preferred not to have to use a flashlight and be seen. He helped me with my rifle into the stand then immediately had me put my clip in, ready a bullet into the chamber, then place the rifle back on safety.
Next, he pointed out the surrounding environment and where all the open tracks/lanes were. He instructed me to look through my scope down each track and figure out where my arm props needed to be. Once I felt comfortable looking through the scope in each position, we relaxed and soaked in our surroundings. Listening and watching the woods come alive in the morning is a beautiful, spiritual experience and could solely embody a worthy hunt even without a harvest.
While listening, watching and waiting on deer movement, we chatted quietly about how much work goes into creating and maintaining the healthy habitat at the plantation. I realized very quickly how much love for the environment, and animals, these people truly have. They aren’t just talk; they are action!
What I mean by that is when they say they care about the animals, they actually nurture and make the animals' lifestyle better by creating healthy habitat. I was so enthralled in our conversation, the first deer snuck up on us quickly. It will surprise you as to how camouflaged they actually are and how quietly they move.
It was a spike buck, so I knew I would not be harvesting this deer, but Tracy instructed me to look through my scope and put the crosshairs on the deer then follow it as long as I could. Doing this, knowing I would not be pulling the trigger another time, calmed my nerves, and allowed me to get more comfortable looking through the scope at a deer in the crosshairs.
Afterwards, I watched the area the spike entered, thinking maybe more deer would come to follow. Instead, four does entered from the opposite side behind a live oak tree. The tree was so large they hid behind it well until they were only about 100 yards away from us.
Mr. Tracy told me earlier: In most circumstances we see the deer before the deer sees or hears us if the wind is right. He had instructed me that as soon as I spot a deer to get my rifle up, prop it, and know exactly where I would plan to take my shot. If the deer stopped moving, then we should freeze and not move either.
So when I saw the does headed in my direction, I immediately followed earlier instruction and readied my rifle into position. I found the first doe in my scope and followed it into clear view at about 70 yards in front of me. I waited on Mr. Tracy’s instruction because I was not sure if this would be the deer he preferred for me to harvest or if he would want me to wait on another doe. At this point, I was not nervous because I was unsure if this was practice again or if this could be the real thing.
About that time, Tracy asked me if I could see the doe well through my scope. I replied, “yes, sir.” Then he asked if I had my crosshairs in the correct spot right behind the front shoulder when the heart and lungs were located. I replied, “yes, sir.” Then he told me, “Whenever you feel comfortable take the shot.”
As soon as he said those words, the deer stopped broadside, raised its head, and looked in our direction. I knew my shot would not get any better than it was at that exact moment. I knew I couldn’t hesitate, or I would miss my opportunity!
I took a breath and thought to myself, slowly squeeze the trigger. As soon as I thought that the trigger on my gun was so light, the shot was made, and I hit the deer exactly where I intended to, right through the heart. The deer went about 20-30 yards and was down.
This is when all the adrenaline hit me. I was a shaking, crying mess. A mix of excitement and reverence hit me like a ton of bricks. It was an emotional roller coaster.
I was so very thankful a clean shot was made because this was what I was most worried about. Mr. Tracy reminded me the entire morning if I didn’t have confidence in my shot then not to take it. At this moment, I was so very grateful for that advice. Having a mentor as great as Mr. Tracy with me in the stand made my first deer harvest unforgettable and extremely special.
I came scared and apprehensive but left with a joy and love for a new pastime I can spend the rest of my years enjoying with my family. The experience the Women on the Wing and Learn to Hunt programs have given us is once in a lifetime, and I am so blessed the Lord picked y’all to place in our paths for our first hunt.
I don’t think I could have imagined or dreamed of a better first hunting experience than the one I received. Thank you Quail Forever for the opportunity of a lifetime!
Be sure to take the Mentor Pledge … and take someone new into the field this season.