This past weekend was the first time I was able to get out into the field for Minnesota’s early goose season. Last weekend, a wedding that I was in prevented me from getting out for the opener. I tried to figure out every possible scenario where I could manage to hunt in the morning and make it to the wedding but nothing was going to work. As we took to the field this weekend we were without a buddy who usually makes it out with us for the first couple weekends of early goose. It wasn’t until two years ago when he bought a bow that his bird hunting attendance began to come into question.

Corey has always been first and foremost a deer hunter, and always will be. His experiences growing up were that of spending his fall days sitting in a stand with his rifle in the northern Minnesota woods waiting for deer. For a couple years I was able to steer him in the direction of ducks and geese but the pull towards the woods was always stronger than the marshes. It wasn’t until recently that he gave in to peer-pressure from “real hunters” and bought a bow. As soon as he bought the bow he immediately became less concerned about chasing birds and became focused on the task at hand of mastering the bow and shooting a big buck.

Trying to find new land to hunt, while working full-time, and making it into the stand can get extremely challenging when time is limited.  The first season quickly came and went as he was unable to connect with a deer. As soon as the hunting season ended and the chance of shooting something was gone, we starting giving him shit. As good friends know at the end of the day we are all on the same team but, the shit-giving season was one that did not require a license, it didn’t have a bag limit and would extend until he was able to draw some blood with his expensive toy. He only had one option, keep practicing.

This past weekend the cold air called us in different directions. Corey was hunting on some private land in northern Wisconsin through a high school friend and we headed south to shoot geese. As we were setting up decoys on Saturday we had some extra time to spare before shooting hours. We made sure the text Corey so that he would remember to send a status update on his morning hunt. As our moderately successful morning quickly wrapped up we received an update; while he didn’t let an arrow go, he saw more deer than he had seen in a long time, definitely a good sign.

As weekends go, Sunday quickly rolled around and with it the impending work week. Sunday also happened to be Corey’s birthday. I sent a text message in the morning simply asking, “Birthday Buck?”, to which I did not receive an immediate response. I had put the phone down for the day and it would be awhile before I picked it back up. At 3:20PM I received a text message with the picture of his first deer taken with his bow. Later that evening he retold me the story.

It was shot early in the morning and it was the buck that everyone in the party was looking for. The time he had to take a shot came and went so quickly that he didn’t have the opportunity to get nervous. He had scoped out markers in the morning so he had a good idea of how far of a shot it was going to be. After placing a solid shot, he gave it some time before he started tracking. The blood trail would go from heavy to slim as they tried to recover the deer. Eventually the trail went completely cold. It was then that they called in a wringer (a neighbor) to join the search party that they were able to locate the downed buck only after thirty short minutes. He had finally taken his first deer and it just so happened to be on his birthday too.

At the end of the day, all of the practice that Corey had done and the long months of waiting to get back into the stand paid off. The persistence to keep going in pursuit of bringing down a buck resulted in success. While there is always some luck of being in the right spot at the right time, you still need to capitalize on the opportunity, which he did. It was the early season birthday buck that took the bow hunting monkey off of his back. Now he will be able to enjoy this fall without the pressure of taking a deer. For me, I couldn’t be happier that he finally connected, but I can’t wait to get him back into the duck blind and give him shit for all the missed shots – that season never ends.