Hunter Highlight – My First Time Hunting

first time hunting

Cameron Blevins tells us about his first time hunting with his grandfather.

My first hunting trip must’ve been nearly 20 years ago now. I couldn’t have been much older than 8 and I can remember biting at the bit to use my new .410. It wasn’t much to look at back then, but it was my first “real” gun. A gift from my father, it was just a plain single shot, with a plain, unfinished stock. I honestly couldn’t even tell you the brand. I’ve since stained and finished it myself, but I still wouldn’t say it’s much to look at. I keep it more out of nostalgia than anything, considering I haven’t fired it in years.

At any rate, my first hunting experience was with my grandfather on my mom’s side. As I’m sure a lot of young men do, I always looked up to him as I was growing up. He seemed like a mountain of a man who just never had any quit in him. He worked 16 hour days fixing heavy machinery and then came home and would work in the garden and around the house. And he always somehow made time for his family, particularly his grandchildren. Being the oldest of the grandchildren, I was usually the first to go do things with him. I learned to drive by riding on the tractor with him every time he was on it. And thus, my first hunting trip is owed to him as well.

This was in the hills of eastern Kentucky and would’ve been in the late 90s. I can’t tell you exactly what year or month it was, but I do know there were about 5 inches of snow on the ground. I’d begged and begged to go hunting. At this age, I’d never really been before, but I’d heard stories from family members who hunted regularly, and I was ready to get my start. Despite his tiredness from working so much, my grandfather resolved to take me rabbit hunting. A fair game for a .410, plus I don’t think he anticipated me actually bagging anything. Which by the way, he would’ve been right in thinking. I didn’t. But he did, and to this day I remember it.

We set out at right about the first light. That quiet part of the morning where there’s the faintest bit of light, but the critters haven’t starting stirring a whole lot. My grandfather’s house is nestled at the base of one large, horseshoe-shaped hill. His house is in the middle part of the horseshoe, with a hill to each side and the back. Most of the mid-section of the hill has been cleared and is more of a field with waist high grass. But the top of the hill is a wooded area, dense with pine, oak, sycamore, and maple. We headed up the hill directly behind his house and before we get too far up he starts giving me instructions on what to do. Walk softly and deliberately. Look for bundles of grass where rabbits may nest to keep warm. Look for tracks in the snow. And of course, proper gun etiquette- safety on, gun down, away from his direction.

As we head up the hill, we see tracks, but nothing going in the grassy areas. So we head further up the hill to the top part, where the tree line meets the hillside field. We circle the hill, along with the tree line, following tracks until they duck into the tree line. At that point, my grandfather crouched down and started examining the ground at the base of the trees. The grass here was still fairly high, but nothing compared to the field we’d just been in.

Within just a minute or two, he spots one. Being 8 and not entirely sure what I was looking for, I couldn’t see it, so he quietly describes to me what to look for. Try as I may, I still didn’t see it. While I’m looking, he decides to take the shot. And I remember it happening so quickly. As I’m examining the ground, trying to find it for myself, I finally do. No more than 20 feet in front of us, I see the eye, shinning amongst the grass. No sooner than I spot it, he fires his .22 and I lose sight of the eye and see the whole rabbit dash about 10 foot forward before stopping dead. We go recover the animal and to my 8-year-old amazement, he’s shot it directly in the eye I’d spotted in the grass.

From there we decided to head back down to the house and he showed me to clean the animal and then my grandmother taught me how to cook it. To this day, biscuits, gravy, and fried rabbit is the best breakfast I could ever ask for.

Since then I’ve become my own man. I have many guns. I hunt. I fish. I work and have goals. But I always try to make time for that old man, who took the time to take me hunting. And there’s still no quit in him. 20 years later, he’s in his mid-70s and still goes to the garden almost daily.

 

1 Comment

  • Corey Oliver October 7, 2018 at 12:00 am

    Great story Cameron . Thanks for sharing

    Reply

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