Chasing deer is a passion for countless hunters each fall. And no matter when, where and how we hunt whitetails and mule deer each season, that passion can almost always be traced back to a singular event early in our hunting career.
What follows in this Part Two story are the answers that they gave:
Dan Braman (Wildlifers): “I grew up on a ranch in Texas, so I don’t remember not hunting deer. It was sometime around the time I went hunting with my dad in 1975. I was five years old and super excited. We found a buck on the ranch and dad gave me the green light (to shoot). One shot from my .222 rifle and it was over. I’m not sure who was more excited, dad or me.”
Rob Fickling (Beyond the Divide): “Being in Australia, my hunting experience in the Northern Hemisphere is limited. I’ve never hunted whitetail before, although we do have a wild population nearby in New Zealand. It’s the only species I am yet to hunt there, so it’s on the to-do list. As far as North America, I have never hunted whitetail but my first deer hunting experience was the wild Fallow deer we have in Tasmania, which is an island state to the south of the Australian mainland. They have a one month season there in April, and after years of asking my cousins to let me join them, I finally got an invite. I got to take a small buck on the third day of the hunt, which was only one day before the season closed. It was a very memorable experience (for me).”
Visit #DeerWeek for more content from your favorite deer hunting TV show hosts.
Bill Gorman (L.L. Bean Guide to the Outdoors): “I have hunted for many years, but do to school, being a (Marine) Corps pilot, etc., I was out of the hunting scene for a bit. Once I started working for L.L. Bean, I met and hung out with the people (there) who hunted and fished. I rekindled the bow shooting skills and shot my first deer in 1990 with a bow. I shot at least 20 (deer) with a bow before picking up a firearm.”
Michael Hunsucker (Heartland Bowhunter): “I got started whitetail hunting as a kid going to deer camp during the Missouri rifle season with my family. My first whitetail harvest was at that family deer camp as a kid. I raised up my lever action .30-30, aimed at the deer and pulled the trigger. I was shook up and excited that I immediately took my eyes off the deer and called my dad, who was just down the field edge, to let him know. After walking over to where the deer was standing, I found out I missed. I returned to my bucket and not five minutes later, here comes another doe and I was able to capitalize on my second opportunity. My dad met up with me and we went to recover the deer. I was so excited to have harvested my first deer and we went to roll it over to drag it out. That’s when I realized that it wasn’t a doe, but a button buck. My dad still tells the story today and says that the look on my face was priceless when we rolled him over! I immediately was hooked and it was my absolute favorite weekend of the year. From there, I had to pick up a bow and extend my season. After harvesting my first couple of deer with a gun, that was the next step.”
Jim Shockey (UNCHARTED): “My father and my uncles taught me to hunt deer. I was 14 years old and it was in Saskatchewan. The buck was running at 100 yards and I was shooting a .303 British rifle (when I downed the deer). As far as my most memorable place to hunt whitetails, it was our family ranch in Saskatchewan because hunting deer was a family affair for us.”
Ronnie “Cuz” Strickland (Mossy Oak’s Hunting the Country): “My dad was a lifer in the military and loved to fish. We started going to the Homochitto National Forest near our home in Natchez, Mississippi to deer hunt for the venison. I got hooked on the hunting at an early age and the passion is still there. My first deer kill was a doe on the first “doe day” we had in Mississippi. I think I was 12 years old and it was epic – I made the shot sitting on a stump with a 12-gauge shotgun (loaded) with buckshot.”
Mike Stroff (Savage Outdoors): “I started whitetail hunting with my dad when I was six years old. My dad was a big hunter and I wanted nothing more as a kid than to hang out and do things with my dad. So if he hunted, I wanted to hunt! I tagged along my first year and when I was seven years old, I got to shoot my first deer with my dad. My dad came and checked me out of school early for that first hunt when I was actually carrying a rifle. I had been hunting with him many times before that day, but not where I was the actual hunter. My dad was very strict about my shooting and being ethical. He made me learn to shoot with a Hawken muzzleloader with iron sights. He always said that the first shot is all that counted. He made me learn that by only allowing me to shoot my muzzleloader. That afternoon, my dad and I were able to (get it done) and I killed my first doe.”