My First Deer

I went on my first deer hunt when I was 29. Having grown up in the suburbs of Chicago, I didn't have any exposure to hunting as a child. None of the adults in my life hunted, and I never thought about hunting until I took a college course called "Man and Nature," which included a section on animal rights and meat production.

I stuck with a vegetarian diet for about a year after that. Then I decided that since I still wanted to eat meat, I would be most comfortable with killing and eating one wild animal. I thought that better than eating pieces of hundreds of domesticated animals when the only thing about their lives and deaths I was certain about was that they came in plastic wrappers at the supermarket.

I didn't have the chance to learn to hunt until ten years later when I moved to Missouri. I talked with people who hunted deer and found out that they had learned to hunt from their fathers or from male friends who had helped them.

I was fortunate enough to draw an any-deer permit and was able to borrow a rifle from a special program at one of the Conservation Department's facilities. As an added bonus, they let me practice at one of the shooting ranges and taught me the basics of gun safety. Still, I felt that

I didn't know enough about deer hunting and how to do it safely.

Luckily for me, the first "Becoming an Outdoorswoman" course took place that September. About 100 women attended and had the opportunity to learn about everything from falconry and fishing to wild edibles and muzzleloading. I took a short course in hunter safety and rifle marksmanship. I found out that I was a good shot and left the course with much more confidence that I would not hurt myself or someone else.

I still needed a place to hunt and began asking people I knew. Eventually I found a place on a friend's land. He walked me around his property and showed me where other hunters would be on opening morning. He also showed me a site I could use and talked about deer movement through that area.

I read all of the books I could find on deer hunting and picked up a handy pamphlet on field dressing large game to carry with me that first day