Katy’s First Deer

There is absolutely nothing like harvesting your first deer. The rush, the adrenaline, the tears. Now, that all still remains the same any time I have harvested any animal, but there is nothing like that of the first. It makes all the hard work, mistakes, ugly tears, and being overtired for days or weeks on end worth it. At the end of the 2022 season, my mom texted me a picture of her co-worker a woman named Katy. “First deer for a teacher at school, she is pumped!”

So, I decided let’s share another story and reached out to Katy who was more than gracious and eager to write something up for me. What I didn’t realize is how much someone else’s story would touch my heart so much. Katy, while reading your story I had tears welling in my eyes because I could feel your words in my soul.

The hard work; the love for the wilderness; the frustration; the effort; the repeated heartbreak; and then finally, the moment that makes it all worth doing what we do. We have all been there, and if there is any hunter that says otherwise they’re lying.

Congratulations Katy! Your smile says it all. Thanks for sharing your story – your heartfelt words mean more than you know.

My name is Katy Morey, I live in Buckland MA with my husband Chris and my two sons Jackson (14) and Cooper (11).  I am a Kindergarten Teacher turned Reading Specialist and I have worked in schools for seventeen years.  

I have grown up around hunting, mostly white-tailed deer,  but I was never an active participant in it.  I recall the days of my dad and my uncles out on the hunt and their rewards hanging from the porch or the woodshed and my apprehension to trying venison, something I didn’t do until I was a teenager.  I don’t ever recall being asked to join in on the hunt as child, I never knew it was an option.  It wasn’t until I met my husband, that I began to explore hunting with a different lense.  For Chris, hunting was a very important part of his life and something he had been a part of for as long as he could remember.  He began inviting me to join him in the woods as an observer, but also as a student.  I was learning to stay still and quiet, to place my feet and not just step (something I am still working on) and to listen so carefully.  I loved being in the woods when the sun was coming up and everything began to brighten and the birds begin to wake up.  It was something I had never experienced before.  

The love for hunting and the outdoors was something my husband wanted to instill in our boys as well.  I knew in their future there would be many days in the woods, youth hunts, fishing derbies and hunting trips and I wanted to be a part of it, as much as I could.  Eventually, I took my hunter education course and began to go with my husband as a hunter, but still as a student.  

 Something I often tell my youngest son Cooper is, “Mistakes are learning,” and learning is certainly something I have done during my time in the woods, lots of learning!  I have had many moments that resulted in a missed opportunity, that I vowed to never do again.  Like the time my husband and I were still hunting during shotgun season.  It was raining, turning to snow and he had just called so I was scanning.  I noticed a deer approaching and kept my eyes on it trying to determine if it was a buck or a doe (I didn’t have a doe tag.) Turns out it was a small buck with a fork on one side and missing the other.  The problem was, I spent so much time trying to decided if it was something I could shoot that it got too close, I couldn’t raise my gun!  Wanting meat for the freezer, I acted as a screen so my husband could get his up and take the buck.  

Another learning experience was during muzzleloader season.  Chris and I had hunted one spot in the morning and then another for the afternoon.  We had only been in the afternoon spot for about ten minutes when I noticed a young buck walking a run we had hoped to see one on.  I waited for it to go behind a tree, raised my gun, lined up behind the shoulder and pulled the trigger, pop…fizzle, no boom.  The powder didn’t ignite and the gun didn’t fire, another heartbreak.  This time I cried, everything felt smooth and aligned perfectly, my gun just didn’t go off.     

Something I began taking more interest in, especially with all the time at home during Covid, was archery.  I practiced daily, and became very comfortable with my bow.  I built up strength so that I could increase my draw weight because I had a new goal, I wanted to take a deer with my bow.  This is where two more of my “learning” experiences come in.  Chris and I found a place where we could get to easily after work and we could tuck in to ground sit with our bows.  The first opportunity came when we had a flurry of deer activity not far from us, but out of range.  My husband told me to get ready, so I got ready.  A buck was chasing a doe and it spooked a set of fawns.  They began to run, one of them straight at me!  Not knowing what to do, I braced for impact but luckily, it turned last minute and ran by my side.  I could have reached out and pet it.  Still shook up from this close encounter, a young buck came in to a scrape we had been watching and paused, as if it was following a script.  This was my chance!  I tried to draw, and I couldn’t do it.  I tried three more times, each time a mumbled expletive escaped my lips, hoping this time it would work.  Alas, it did not.  I was shaking so bad and realized later that I was sitting too square and wasn’t able to pull across my body.  Next time I’d do better.  

My next archery encounter was during “magic hour,” that time when the sun has gone down but you still have shooting light.  I stood, scanning, while Chris started getting prepared to pack up.  This time I had a doe tag and one was making its way to the opening in front of us.  I felt more comfortable standing and confident I could draw this time.   I waited for her head to be down and behind a tree.  I drew, a full draw this time, and went to adjust my sights.  Unfortunately, when I did so, I jerked the bow.  The deer saw the movement and took off.  Another heartbreak.  

Perhaps my most frustrating experience was during muzzleloader season, the day before I shot my doe.  Something that came from all of my time in the woods with Chris was the confidence to hunt by myself.  He encouraged me to get out and sit for the remainder of the afternoon and even offered his new muzzleloader for me to use.  I got dressed and packed and headed out on the hill.  I revisited a spot from my previous muzzleloader mishap, knowing this is where the deer would be.  I sat, scanned called and waited.  Eventually, a doe walked the ridge above me and turned down the path I was watching.  I got my gun up, put the crosshairs behind her shoulder and pulled the trigger, nothing.  I tried again, nothing.  She didn’t spook, she just slowly walked away, unbothered and out of my range.  I called Chris, crying.  I was so close again, what had happened?  He ran through a checklist with me and that’s when I realized my mistake…I never loaded the primer.  I was mad, just mad at myself and frustrated.  My season was coming to an end, I had a doe tag and I was making stupid mistakes.  

Then came my redemption.  Chris and I went together, once again, and sat in the same place I was the night before.  Positioned and loaded for sure this time we sat and watched.  The wind was perfect for this spot and it wasn’t too cold.  Chis spotted some does a bit out of my range and in a lot of brush.  We watched them, hoping they’d make their way closer and into the open, but still scanning.  Chris caught movement and saw a doe on the ridge above us.  It was the same time of day and the same path the doe the night before was on.  Chris whispered, “Be patient” and I watched her getting ready.  She crossed a brook and stepped into an opening.  She stopped broadside.  I lined up and pulled the “trigger,” nothing.  I was having deja vu and beginning to shake.  Chris let me know that I had my finger on the break release and not the trigger…I was lucky she didn’t spook.  I regrouped, aimed behind the shoulder and put my finger on the trigger.  They tell you that you don’t feel the recoil and it is true.  I was so focused on making a good ethical shot, I couldn’t think about anything else.  I watched her shoulder and saw the fire.  She ran off, and I cried.  I felt good about my shot and my husband said she acted like she was hit.  We gave her some time, marked our spot, picked up and went to tracking.  I found where she was standing and I had blood!  The snow made tracking easy.  We followed her tracks and the blood trail, she only went 50 yards, she was down, I had my first deer.  

I can’t fully describe the feeling of harvesting my first deer.  There is such a mix of adrenaline, excitement, relief and pride.  My body shook, this time I cried tears of joy and I thanked this beautiful animal for providing my family with food.  There were so many heartbreaking and frustrating moments leading up to this that made this moment so much more meaningful.  I put in so much time getting in the woods, I had so many moments that taught me something, I had unending guidance and encouragement that gave me the confidence to keep going out.  I love knowing that my efforts put food in our freezer and now I have my own catalog of hunting stories to tell.

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