Behind the Badge
A Deer Season of Firsts
District Game Warden Erik Schmidt
Like so many families in North Dakota, I was born into a family that hunted and was introduced to it at a young age.
My grandfather passed away when I was six years old and unfortunately, I do not have many memories of him.
There is one special memory I have of him though and that is a deer hunting trip with him, my younger brother, my father and myself.
I don’t recall if anyone harvested a deer during that hunt, but I do remember seeing deer with him and the excitement in his voice at the sight of those deer.
To say I have been blessed with the deer hunting opportunities afforded to me in this lifetime would be an understatement.
Not everyone is afforded the opportunity to be introduced to deer hunting in the way myself and others are.
To some people, while they may desire to hunt, deer hunting, and hunting in general, just wasn’t or isn’t a part of their family tradition.
This is where we as seasoned hunters come in.
A couple years ago, I had a deer season of multiple first deer hunts I was privileged to take part in.
Earlier in the year I was contacted by a local landowner in my district.
He informed me he would like to have some youth hunters and first-time hunters out to his land to harvest some does and asked if I knew of anyone who would be willing to take him up on his offer.
As it just so happened, I had two acquaintances, one who had a son and the other who had a grandson, who were looking to fill their youth deer tags.
Hunting dates were set and I was invited to partake in both September hunts.
After a few evening sits, both hunters were successful in harvesting their first deer.
The look of excitement on both the young hunters and their parents faces after the successful hunts told the story, but the story wasn’t done.
As it turned out the father of one of those youth hunters had never deer hunted either and had secured a deer tag as well.
He asked if I would tag along on his first hunt in November.
He didn’t have to twist my arm too hard to get me to say ‘yes.’ His hunt ended the same way his son’s hunt had; with him harvesting a mature doe.
I did some deer hunting that year too.
I harvested two does, one with my rifle and one with my bow.
They were great hunts that I was able to share with other friends of mine, but I honestly had more fun participating in those other three ‘first’ hunts.
If there’s someone in your life who you think would like to try their hand at hunting, or someone you’ve been talking with about trying it for a while now, I would encourage you to make this the year.
Have them put in for that deer tag.
Make some new memories.
Maybe it will be a successful hunt and maybe it won’t but that’s why it’s called hunting.
Either way, you won’t regret doing it.