Do you remember your first deer? Do you remember your first pheasant, grouse or dove? Seriously, for many of us our “firsts” were quite a few years ago, but does the memory still play vividly in your mind? Or has there been so many other experiences since that first time that your mind has long since forgotten that momentous achievement.
During an idle moment the other day I thought about my first deer. By trophy standards it was nothing spectacular. In fact, it was a small button buck. At the time I didn’t even realize it was small…quite the contrary, your first always seems big to you. It took me until my third season deer hunting until I finally scored, and dare I say you would have been hard-pressed to find another 16–year old who was happier during the fall hunting season of 1979.
I also remember my first duck. I was jump shooting along the river that runs through my farm. We had spotted a bunch of woodies perched on some logs protruding from the river, and our sneak stalk on them was a success. I bagged a hen woodie.
Likewise, my first grouse was something quite special. I shot numerous times into the densely wooded landscape only to discover disappointment on most occasions…but not this time. Finally a nice ruffed grouse succumb to my persistence and I proudly joined the ranks of being an honest to goodness grouse hunter.
My first antelope was also quite special. I laid on the rugged country of SE Montana with prickly pear cactus seemingly everywhere (including stuck in my body). Indeed, I felt like I had paid a painful price for that ‘lopester…and finally it was mine. I’ve shot several other antelope since that first, but none have the same special meaning to me.
I also remember my first brown trout on a fly rod. Heck, I was a farm kid who really didn’t know what I was doing, but I was determined to figure it all out. After casting what surely had to be hundreds of times I finally figured out that with a little finesse’ the technique for catching works much better. That first trout likely only fought me for 20 seconds or so…but the memory has played in my mind so many times it virtually seems like it lasted for hours.
One of the most glorious moments in my outdoors career happened when I trapped my first mink. Walking up to my water set and seeing that furry tail made me want to scream to the high heavens with excitement. It was made that much more special because that very same day my good buddy, Mitch also scored on his first fox. Yes, that is us shown in the picture. Mitch is wearing camo, and I’m in the blue windbreaker holding my precious mink like a new puppy. [NOTE: don’t be too critical on the hair…remember, this was the mid-1970s]
Suffice it to say the sportsman’s life is full of memorable firsts. Some might even be forgettable, but most were likely the fuel that intensified the passion we all have for living the outdoorsman’s life.
I’m glad to say I am far from finished with experiencing my outdoor firsts, either. I’m still looking forward to winning a new gun at a conservation banquet someday (up until now I’ve been snake-bitten with bad luck). I also want to go coonhunting during the nighttime with dogs someday soon. I also want to go deep sea fishing off the coast of Florida someday. In other words, the outdoors still has lots for me to experience if I choose to open my mind to new opportunities.
I’ve heard some folks say your first kiss is always the most special. While that may be true for some, it’s not necessarily so for everyone. No doubt about it, when I contemplate my important life’s “firsts” the ones that truly put a smile on my face are the ones that have some sort of outdoor adventure associated with it.
2008 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.