Not Vegan Friendly: An Article All About Deer Gun Hunting!

Trigger: Subject Warning! This article is going to talk about ethical hunting and a few of my hunting stories. If hunting is not your thing or you don’t like hearing about hunting/handling guns... I would leave now. 


Since Minnesota’s opening weekend has passed, as has Wisconsin’s—where I go hunting—I figured I would share my thoughts on this activity.


Ethical Hunting


There are many differences between ethical hunting and unethical hunting.


Ethical hunting is when you treat the animal respectfully. This means attempting to kill it in one shot. This also means that if you wound the animal, you finish it off. Do not just let the deer wander around injured; instead, try to kill it. Sometimes the animal gets away too quickly and you are unable to finish it off properly, but most often you will be able to. This also means that if the animal is injured, you try and cause the least amount of pain and suffering to the animal. 


Ethical hunting is using the correct weapons. There are many different seasons for hunting. There are muzzleloader seasons, bow and arrow seasons, and of course, gun season. Hunting ethically means you know which season you are in and what weapons you can use. I will not tell you what type of gun to use because everyone is different. For example, my dad uses a Browning A-Bolt 30-06 caliber, and I use a left-handed Ruger American 270 caliber. But it is important to know that you can’t use a gun during bow season, nor can you use a bow during gun season. 


Ethical hunting means wearing your blaze orange. Blaze orange is very crucial for hunting. Not for the deer’s sake, but for yours. Deer hunting is a very dangerous activity, and there are many stories of people being mistaken for deer who were then shot and killed. Wearing blaze orange ensures that another hunter will not mistake you for a deer. 


Ethical hunting means having the proper licensing and tags. When hunting, you need a license to be able to hunt. You also need the proper tags for the animals you kill. Generally, you get two antlerless tags and one antlered tag. You can also buy extras of each. The cost of the licenses and tags depends on a lot of factors: the type of land you are hunting if it is public or private, the county you are hunting in, and whether you are a resident or not, and when you are buying the license. Antlerless means a doe, a buck fawn, or a buck that has lost his antlers. A buck fawn means that it is one of this year's fawns. Yes, it is legal to hunt them because they no longer have their spots. And it is usually hard to tell if the “doe” you see is a doe or a buck fawn. 

Summer Field Photo by FelixMittermeier from Pixabay

Unethical Hunting

Unethical hunting is what causes a lot of others to have a tainted view of hunting. Unethical hunting breaks any of the rules I mentioned before. This could mean a multitude of things: not having proper licensing, using a gun during bow season, and my least favorite, not offering a wounded animal the killing shot. In my opinion, the worst thing a hunter can do is wound an animal without attempting to finish it off. If you are unable to find the wounded animal, that is different yet still very unfortunate for you and the animal. But if you have the chance to end their pain and choose to leave the animal to die painfully, then you are hunting incorrectly. 



Every hunter has their stories. I too have my stories from hunting. I cannot tell you about this year's hunting, because even though opening weekend has passed since this article has been posted, I am writing it before the season has even started. So the 2020 stories will not be included in the mix. 


My favorite stories so far have been: my first deer, my longest shot, and seeing a bobcat twice.


My First Deer: 

*Mild Gore Warning*

I was 15 years old when I shot my first deer. It was about 1:00 pm on the Sunday of opening weekend when I saw the deer walking past. I was using my dad’s 30-06 at the time, since I didn’t receive my 270 as a gift until I was 17. My dad and I were sharing a stand, and my brother was in a different stand. My dad nudged me since I had fallen asleep and said to me, “two deer at 11 o’clock.” Since deer see movement, we don’t point when we see one, instead, we say where we see it based on where it would be if we were in the center of a clock. 


I looked up the hill and saw that they would cross directly in front of the logging trail. The logging trail travels up past my treestand my dad and I used and went to the stand my brother used. When the back deer crossed in front of the trail, I fired the rifle. The first deer ran down, and the one I shot had gone up. I was shaking because I knew in my subconscious that I had hit it. So, my dad and I went to where I had fired, and we found a puddle of dark blood. The dark blood was not a good sign because lung blood—the kind you want to see when hunting ethically—is brighter than what we saw. Dark blood means that the deer is gut shot. A gut shot deer is a bad thing. Not only do they not die for 4-6 hours after they are shot, but when field dressing the deer, it stinks. 


So my dad and I, figuring that the deer I shot was the one we saw running downhill, followed down the hill for a while. But, since my deer had gone up, we didn’t find any more blood lower. So we walked over to my brother and asked if he had seen it pass him. He hadn’t, so we went back to the little puddle we had previously found. Then, we went to see if the deer had run away up the hill and found more blood. We continued until we reached our property line. I saw blood on our neighbors land, so my dad left to go see if our neighbor was home to ask permission to follow it. After we were able to follow it, we repeatedly saw little puddles here and there, indicating that the deer had bedded down a couple of times. Finally, we saw her running, and my dad—who had the gun now, since I was uncomfortable taking a running shot—shot her, and she fell down a small hill. We walked over to where she was, and he handed me the rifle to take the killing shot. To me, it felt too personal to shoot, so he ended up taking the killing shot. Since I took the first shot, it was my deer. But then, we had to drag her back up the hill and into our property. From the first shot to the killing shot, it took us three full hours to get her and took another 30 minutes to drag her out of the woods. 


Longest Shot 

*Gore Warning*

This story is of my 3rd deer that I got. It was the weekend after Thanksgiving of 2017. I had just gotten my 270 and had already gotten one deer with it the week before. Dad was walking through the woods to hopefully drive some deer to me to shoot, around 2 in the afternoon. I was headed down to sit on the lower part of the woods to look out across the small ravine we have on our property. As I was slowly walking, I heard rustling across the ravine and saw two deer on the hill, about halfway up the hill. I walked down the hill very slowly, so as not to scare them away and found a tree to prop my gun against. I aimed at the front deer because the one at the back was much smaller. The shot was a good 75+ yard shot. I fired, and the deer dropped in his tracks, skidded down the hill—all four legs in the air—and landed in a pile of deadfall. My first instinct was, “oh, I snapped its spine, and will have to shoot it again because it is only paralyzed.” So I headed down to the deer and tried to free it from the deadfall without getting a hoof to the head. But I had not snapped the spine; my shot was directly through its heart. In fact, when my dad was field dressing it later, he informed me that my shot had completely shredded the heart and lungs. The shot ended up being over 100 yards; I don’t remember if we measured for sure though. 


Bobcat Sightings 

*No Gore*

Last year, my uncle had caught a bobcat on his trail cams. So, when I was in my stand I had decided I was cold, so I climbed down my stand to go rest in the truck for a bit. When I got to the bottom, I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. Startled, I raised my gun up to shoot the deer before realizing... that is not a deer! It’s a bobcat! So I watched it for a bit before heading down to the truck. Then, three hours later, I saw it head back the other direction, and in its mouth, it had a squirrel. I guess that bobcat was getting lunch!


Hunting is my favorite time of year; sometimes I feel like it should be a national holiday.