I did not hunt as a young child. It was not until I was out of high school I tried to learn the sport. I remember I bought my first bow, a High Country Supreme the summer of 1996. Shooting 25-12 Easton Arrows, I wasn’t a bad shot for a beginner. That set up would be the equivalent of throwing a 2×4 at a deer compared to today’s technology. As I started trying to go out by myself, I had no idea what I was doing. I would rent VHS Roger Raglin and Real Tree Monster Buck videos at the local movie place almost every weekend with my buddies. It looked so easy on those videos, I thought I knew how to chase a giant buck.
Believe it or not, I shot my first buck that first year I hunted. Lucky did not even begin to explain it. I was leaned back in a big triple trunk tree on a field edge waiting for deer to feed out into the field. Close to last light, I saw some doe over to my left just inside the woods and a buck (he was a giant to me back then) appeared up on the ridge to my right. I got so excited. As the buck started to come that direction I got my feet set. As I was watching him come down the tree line, he went inside the timber about 50 yards from me. I turned around and drew my bow waiting for him to walk by. The buck was grunting and walking at a fast pace. He literally walked right behind the tree I was standing beside. Maybe 2 yards from me. He was so close and walking so fast I could not see him through my peep site and I didn’t get a shot. As he went past, I was still at full draw, the doe trotted down in the timber. Light was a little low and when I found his head in my peep site, I knew he was inside 30 yards uphill a little from me. I saw his head facing my left looking down at the doe, put my pin where his shoulder should have been, and squeezed the release. I heard that big arrow hit something and the deer took off. I will never forget that feeling!
The only thing I did right that night was back out. I was so clueless about hunting, I didn’t know what to do. I walked up to the front of the property where the farmer who was letting me hunt was finishing up milking for the night. I told him what happened and he thought I probably hit a tree with my shot. He told me to wait a little bit and go back out and look for blood. After waiting a little bit, I headed out with my flashlight. I got to the spot the deer was standing and my jaw hit the ground with how much blood there was. It was everywhere! I shined the light to the left and there was the buck laying 30 yards away. As I walked over to him I didn’t see the arrow hole. As I went to flip him over, I saw about a half inch of the nock sticking out of the white hair just below his butt hole. That deer was facing perfectly away from me with his head turned to his left. When I put the pin on what I thought was his shoulder, I put that 31” 25-12 aluminum arrow with a 125 grain thunderhead right up the back side. Is that luck or what? That little buck with 3 points on one side and a spike on the other got me hooked to the sport.
Looking back on it, it was the stupidest thing I have ever done hunting! I think we have all been there to some degree. It was a lesson I had to learn on my own. Since then, I have been lucky with some shot placements that were not perfect but I have not taken a pot shot since.
Since that day, I have grown to love this sport more and more. I was hooked with the challenge of studying whitetail. My next goal was accomplished 3 years later when I shot a buck big enough to have mounted! That tall 9 point was my prize possession for a few years. My goals continued to get higher and higher as new challenges were made to my hunting season. Some years I did not shoot anything as I continued to surround myself with people I could learn from as I started chasing older and bigger bucks. While I am in no way and expert, there is no doubt I know more today than that night back in 1996 when I saw what a Texas heart shot would do to a deer. That is a result of many hours of work and research.
Today, I enjoy managing the land and herd almost as much as I do hunting. I set out to create habitat and plant the best food source I can. Setting up a property to increase the odds of shooting a mature buck is one of the most difficult, frustrating, and rewarding hobbies someone can have. These older bucks are so smart! For that reason, I have never hesitated to try something with proven results to provide a healthier bigger animal. I have been lucky enough to have a few of those plans come together over the years.
When Real World Wildlife Products released the Expect Healthy Deer Technology®, I studied up on it. In 2018, they announced this product will include a Whitetail Specific Probiotic. I am no nutritionist or vet, but I know the purpose of a probiotic. It is to provide good bacteria in a stomach to help gut health and help process food. If I am doing all this work to plant food plots, keep mineral sites fresh, and fill my feeders, I AM going to provide something in that animal to help them digest it better. The more protein, minerals, supplements I can get them to absorb into their blood stream the healthier they will be and the bigger racks they will grow. Not until listening to Real World’s head nutritionist Dr. Aaron Gaines, did I ever think about starting with gut health as the difference maker. I always dabbled in peripherals to try to help the deer instead of using products like Expect Healthy Deer Technology® to be the starting point of my management plan. Does this add cost to my management plan? Sure it does but to me it is worth it. I believe without a doubt I can make a difference in these wild animal’s health. Can I stop any deer around me from ever getting sick? I do not know, but I will not just sit back and refuse to use resources available to help fight it. What I do know is that there is more science to say I can help than there is saying I can make no difference. That is good enough for me.
Think of it this way, Expect Healthy Deer Technology® now starts with the deer gut health. The deepest part of that deer. The probiotics helps put all that time, money, sweat, and effort you plant or pour onto the ground into that animal’s blood stream. From there, the animal can benefit from the work you have put in throughout the year. I should have started there to begin with…
I can’t help but think our Spiritual Life with God is the same way. Are you pouring out some salt out on the ground as an attractant? Maybe even putting out a food plot and playing around the surface of herd health but never address the starting point of that deer in his stomach. I find myself as a Christian doing the same thing. We can go to church and show our effort on Sunday but are we really addressing our soul or what is deep inside us? Our personal relationship with God deep in our gut. Until we are honest with ourselves and God, we will continue to fail in our daily walk.
That night in 1996 when I took a pot shot at a deer, I got extremely lucky. I was new at the sport, and had no experience other than watching VHS tapes. Since that day, I have tried to surround myself with people that I can learn from. I think we all need to be reminded that we should look deep into our gut to know our struggles and failures as sinners. Surround ourselves with people that we can learn from. Dive into the Word and turn our human struggles over to God. When our heart accepts the fact we cannot deal with struggle alone, we will find assurance knowing he sent his son Jesus Christ to save all.
In Psalms 142, David was hiding out in a cave and probably did one of the deepest gut checks in the history of mankind. The world must have felt like it was crashing down around him. He was in desperation and prayed:
1 I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy.
2 I pour out before him my complaint; before him I tell my trouble.
3 When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who watch over my way.
In the path where I walk people have hidden a snare for me.
4 Look and see, there is no one at my right hand; no one is concerned for me.
I have no refuge; no one cares for my life.
5 I cry to you, Lord; I say,
“You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”
6 Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need;
rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me.
7 Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name.
Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me.
I am a Real World Hunter, and a Real World Christian. I have made serious mistakes trying to be good at both. All I can do is continue to study and surround myself with people who can encourage me to be better. This off season as we are in the field preparing our properties with food plots, mineral stations, and supplemental feeding programs, think doing a gut check on the deer and your life. It all starts deep inside if you want to expect better results!