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I got my first deer 50 years after military training

It's deer hunting weekend again. I've Windexed the fly poop off at least the insides of the windows, hooked up the propane stove in the corner, and hacked back some of the prickly ash that snags my trousers as I am getting to The Tower Stand, which is the name this stand has come to be called.

It's located over in the far NE corner of this home eighty, and going right and left in the wheat stubble left over from the renter's summer wheat crop you can see the turnips that I hand sowed in early August, all still nice and green, being as they are apparently somewhat resistant to the light frosts we've had here this fall.

The turnips really began to grow once the wheat was combined off. Some of them are as big as softballs. Softballs with bites taken out of them, because the deer are never content with eating all of one. They'd rather take one bite and then move on to the next one. The turnip is always greener on the other side of the fence, you know, even if you're a deer. They really like this turnip idea because located as it is in the edge of the field, the woods are close, and they can feel pretty safe about popping out of the trees, biting a turnip or two, and in case of emergency, being able to flee back into the forest.

Since soon I'll be right there in The Tower Stand, I'm hoping that I'm going to be the emergency.

Now it's the first morning of deer hunting weekend, and I'm up in The Tower Stand with my brother, who doesn't hunt, but has come up from Iowa—which is where I came from—to see what all the fuss is about. We've gotten up real early, eaten some breakfast, and made it out to The Tower Stand while it's still dark. I've lit the stove; we've poured some coffee; we're talking. I haven't seen him in a while, so we're catching up.

"I think I'm getting cataracts," he said. At our age, a lot of our catching up involves personal health issues, real or imagined. At this age, just about anything can go wrong, you know, and talking about it is kind of like whistling past the graveyard, kind of, so to speak. He went on about how he's not able to see in the dark at all. Since it's dark, dark, dark outside, we're neither one of us sure whether we're going blind or maybe it really is this dark outside. We don't know because neither one of us has been up at this hour in a long time.

My brother goes on about his eyes for a few more minutes, then peers out the window at something way out in the field. "I think there's something out there", he says, and opens the window so maybe he can see whether it's fly spots or really something.

I can see his general direction of vision and I tell him that it's probably black dirt left from a big boulder that I dug out earlier. He peers some more. "I don't know," he says, "does a boulder move?"

Now I look. Wow. It's really dark out there, but yes, I see that dark spot. We both watch it a while more. It's becoming more and more light, quite quickly. I check the time. We're easily within legal shooting light, but we discuss it a bit more.

"I think it's a deer," he says, squinting into the darkness. I look, and squint. Hmmmm. It seems like a rock with a white tail. Whoa! It has a tail. I grab my rifle, look at it through the scope, and sure enough, it's a tail with a deer on the other end of it.

All these years hunting with my relatives, and I've never had to shoot one. There have always been too many, so I've always gotten one.

I shoot. To my surprise, the deer falls right down. I have my first deer.

Fifty years ago today, I was out on an army rifle range, qualifying as expert with an M14, a deer-rifle-sized firearm. Fifty years later, it pays off. Venison in the freezer.

Go figure.

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