"THERE'S A DEER!!!", my thirteen year old son, Frank, said as quietly as he could, in a very excited voice. He startled me with his excitement. It was a cool November morning in Southwest Georgia. We were hunting with Gary Smith, of Trophy Georgia Outfitters. Our general gun season in Northwest Florida had not yet opened, so I brought Frank up to hunt in Georgia. We were hunting a stand known as the "Buddy stand". I knew it was a proven stand. In 2006, my cousin, Don, shot a great buck from this stand. His buck had been chasing three does. This was my second year hunting with Gary. It's unusual not to see deer from any of his stands.
During the late summer, I had worked with Frank at the range to get comfortable shooting a scoped rifle. He went through quite a bit of ammuntion at the range, and had become quite comfortable with my Marlin .30-30. That being said, I was a little concerned over the distance of the deer he had seen. We were sitting in a ladder stand, overlooking an overgrown field that had several strips mowed through it, and a couple of small food plots, all backing up to a creek bottom. The spot where the large doe was feeding was approximately 125 yards away. Luckily, there is a shooting rail on the stand, so Frank had a solid rest. Frank looked through the scope, and assured me the cross hairs were steady. He pulled the hammer back, waited until the doe's right front leg moved forward to expose the vitals, and slowly squeezed the trigger. I was watching the deer through my binoculars, so it was easy to assess the hit. I knew instantly Frank hit the deer, but I had
concerns it was just a little far back, as it quickly retreated to the thick creek bottom. I congratulated Frank on his shot, but had to convince him we needed to sit there for a while before taking up the trail. Since I felt the shot was a little far back, I wanted to some time before trailing the deer. I explained to Frank that since that deer had been up and feeding, the chances were good that other deer were also feeding. It took all of the patience he had, but we managed to stay in the stand. I kept getting questions like "What time is it?" and "How much longer before we can go find my deer?". I had just about given in, when I noticed movement on the edge of one of the mowed strips in the field.
A big bodied, cow horned spike was working his way across the mowed strip. Gary asks his hunters to hold out for 8 points or better, with antlers outside the ears. He also was generous enough to waive that rule for Frank, as he had never killed a buck. Frank asked if he could shoot him, and I reminded him of Gary's generous offer, and that his next buck would have to meet those requirements. It's also Georgia law that the second buck must have at least four points on one side. Frank quickly decided he wanted the big spike, but by the time he got his gun up, the buck had made it into the thick weeds of the overgrown field. We could see the antlers above the weeds, but did not have a clean shot. The buck worked his way through the field, but never gave Frank a shot. The buck had made it out of range and into an even thicker part of the field, when I decided to try the grunt call. I grunted three times, and waited. Less than a minute later, the antlers
appear over the weeds, moving towards us as if on a string. Frank quickly got his gun up, and dropped the buck in his tracks with a 30 yard shot!
There was now no way I could convince Frank to stay in the stand any longer, so down we came to admire his first buck. The look in Frank's eyes brought back all of the excitement I experienced when I shot my first buck many years ago. I also now knew the wonderful feeling my own Father had when he took me hunting. After Frank put his hands around the antlers of his first buck, we did some back slapping, hand shaking, and a hug or two. Now, all we had to do was find the doe that had ran back into the creek bottom. We quietly eased over to the food plot where the doe had been. I told Frank to be ready to make a follow up shot, if necessary. I have to admit, I was a little worried when we could not locate any blood at the spot the deer had been standing when Frank shot. I made a small arc into the woods, and after finding no blood, I was starting to get more worried. I knew Frank could see my frustration, but I told him to be patient, because I knew he had
hit the doe. I also had faith in the slow moving 170 bullet that the .30-30 Marlin had sent down range. That round may not be impressive ballistically, but I know it will put a deer down quickly. I made a slightly larger arc out in the creek bottom in the direction the deer had run, and found a good blood trail, only thirty yards for the edge of the field. After following the blood trail for just twenty yards or so, Frank located his doe. After unloading his rifle, he began dragging the doe out of the creek bottom, back up to the food plot. We were two very happy hunters.
We walked the half mile or so back to where the truck was parked, and called Gary to let him know about Frank's very successful hunt, and to come take some of his famous trophy photos. Gary has a talent of taking great field photos, and I wanted to make sure we had Frank's first buck, and first double, documented. Gary congratulated Frank on his successful hunt, took some photos, and help us get the deer loaded. Both Frank and I thanked Gary for providing us with such a wonderful opportunity.
I felt very lucky to have been able to share such an incredible morning with my son. On the way to the skinning rack, Frank asked if we could share some of the meat with his Grandparents. I was glad to see he was interested in sharing as well. Frank's Grandmother loves smoked sausage from Concord Processing, so that's what we ordered. Frank was able to provide his Grandparents with a good supply of healthy venison.
A few years ago, I was introduced to Concord's smoked venison sausage. Every year since then, the first couple of deer I shoot are made into smoked sausage, with the exception of the backstraps and tenderloins. I would like to share my favorite way to eat smoked sausage... the sausage dog!
This is about as easy as it gets! I prefer to cook smoked sausages on the grill. I start by splitting the links, so that the fat can easily cook out. Being careful to not over cook and making sure the grill doesn't flame up from the grease cooking out, I make sure the sausage is fully cooked, due to the pork fat added. I do, however, make very sure not to over cook them. I then place the sausage on a fresh bun. I usually just eat them plain , but have had friends eat them with just about any topping you could put on a hot dog.
I discovered another great meal by accident, about a month ago. We took out a package of venison burger, to thaw in order to make hamburgers on the grill. That afternoon, I came home with some fresh wheat hamburger buns, ready for a burger. When I pulled the thawed package of meat out of the refrigerator, I found that we had thawed a package of fresh ground sausage instead. Not having any eggs, I did the only thing I could think of.... I made sausage burgers and put them on the grill. I have to say, I think I liked our mistake better than I would have liked a burger.
Give it a try!