June 13, 2019

Whether it’s hunting for bears in Canada, fishing for walleyes in Minnesota, or just taking a stroll through a near by park, simply being outdoors is vital for happiness and relaxation. It’s imperative to give our younger generation a chance to enjoy nature, so that future generations can share our passions the same way that we have grown to love them ourselves. One of my biggest passions is deer hunting and all of the traditions that go along with it. I will never forget my first experience with a .243 rifle in hand. Here is my story.


My brothers, Dad and I loaded up and headed to northern Minnesota, near Lake Vermilion. We showed up on Saturday morning around 1:00 AM and got a few hours of sleep before meandering into the creepy, dark woods where not only deer and squirrels inhabit, but also black bears and wolves. Shortly after first light, I was trailing my Dad with a huge smile on our way out to, well… at that point I had no clue where I was going but that’s beside the point. We crept over a grassy knoll and my Dad looked back at me and whispered, “Cam, stop.” 




A shot was fired, I had just … witnessed my Dad shoot a deer. Even though it wasn’t me, I still had goosebumps and was just as excited as he was. We waited a few minutes and proceeded to walk to where the deer was down. As usual, after we here a gun shot in the area, we all get together and get filled in on the story and come up with our next plan. My Dad told Aaron, my brother, to get me set up on a ridge only a hundred yards or so from where my Dad was gutting his deer. I posted up on a stump on a ridgeline overlooking an aspen swamp where deer tend to bed down in during the day. 


Being a 10 year old and having to sit down for several hours, or even an hour, is tough let me tell you. I could see my Dad taking care of his deer from where I was sitting. I looked to my left; I looked to my right for about 45 minutes. I heard a twig snap, and my neck snapped as well from turning my head so fast. A deer had walked up the side of the ridge I was sitting on, and was standing only 15 yards from me. I wasn’t sure what to do at that moment. Do I wait until it puts its head down? Do I slowly raise my gun while it’s staring at me? I decided to go with the second option. I put the crosshairs on its shoulder and squeezed the trigger.




I had just shot at a deer… and missed… yes, I missed a deer at 15 yards. I glance up and it was still standing there, so I frantically ejected the used bullet shell and put it another one.




At this point, I wasn’t sure if I had hit it or not, but I stayed optimistic. What proceeded to happen after was a moment I won’t forget and I think my Dad would agree. He walked over the hill with the biggest smile ever; I could tell he was proud of me. We then began the search for my deer and it took all of about 10 minutes, it hadn’t gone far. I just became the happiest kid in all of Minnesota. What I thought the entire time was a doe, I had harvested a spike buck, but in my books it is a 1x3 because the antler splits at the end. 


Moments like that are why I have the passion for the outdoors that I still do to this day, and I'm sure many of you have a similar story with different details. I went to South Dakota State University for Wildlife and Fisheries and I know that it is cliché, but without stories like my first deer, I wouldn’t be the same person that I am today. It taught me patience, and a whole lot of it. It taught me to appreciate Gods beauty that he has created around us. And it also taught me life skills. The stories and traditions that I had growing up are something I will carry with me for the rest of my life, and I owe that to my family for instilling their passions within me. 


- Written by River Brothers' own; Cameron Sundmark, Editor-in-Chief

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