PUTTING THAT BIG BUCK INTO FOCUS

This buck was harvested by Ernie Martin on private land in Northwest Florida.

This buck was harvested by Ernie Martin on private land in Northwest Florida.

Enjoy the hunt – and maybe get your eyes checked

By ERNIE MARTIN

Hook & Trigger

Due to the passing of my father when I was only 13 years old, I had to have help in my continuing education of all things outdoors. My step-dad was very loving and instrumental in my fishing endeavors, but hunting was not his passion. That wasn’t a bad thing, it’s just how things came to be. 

I have a brother-in-law who picked up the slack and showed me his favorite hunting venues. Quail and deer are the two pursuits that he has a passion for. Using the scrubbing technique, we had a lot of successful deer hunts, but I had not taken my first buck and I was now at the age of 19.

Hunting deer for me was a chance to hang out with my extended family. Uncles, cousins and my brother-in-law would form a decent-sized hunting party. I would either be scrubbing or running dogs, depending on the regulations of the hunting areas. I enjoyed my years with the crew, but I still had not taken a buck and I was now 29 and married. I was told that I might need glasses and that I should get my eyes examined. I was a left-eye dominate person who shot right-handed, which posed a big problem with my aiming and shooting a gun! Thankfully, I was fitted with a pair of glasses that corrected my vision.

Well the next hunting season, I had been practicing with my gun and noticed that my aim was significantly improved. I found myself gaining more confidence during dove season and was looking forward to deer season. I remember the day vividly. I had been helping coach the boys’ soccer team and we had a morning practice during Christmas break. 

After returning home I made a quick work of preparations to meet up with my hunting party in the Blackwater Forest. C.B. radios were used for communicating the deer and dog movement through the woods. It also provided intel for where people were taking stands to intercept the deer. When I got within range of my C.B. radio, I turned it on to find out about the current situation and the section we were hunting. The chatter was flowing; it seemed the hunting party had dogs in pursuit of two nice bucks. 

By the time I reached the section, one of the bucks had been harvested and the other had gotten past the standers and he was now in the section that I was driving through. I let my party know which stand I was taking, and I would be off the radio unless the deer turned a different direction. I eased out of my truck to the chorus of dogs that were in hot pursuit of the second buck. They were bearing down on my location. I moved away from my truck and got in a position to see the creek in front of me. I stood still for all of one minute and then my eyes (with glasses on) caught a movement coming out of the creek. The big buck was headed right down the escape route. One shot, one kill, my first big buck and I was 30 years old!

Most people would have probably quit and found something else to do with their time. I love the outdoors and all that it has to offer. Being with friends and family is something that I hold close to my heart. The day I harvested my “big buck” will be cherished for a lifetime. The memories of all the fun I have had on hunting excursions has left me believing that I have been blessed beyond all measure. If you haven’t harvested your big buck yet, keep at it, and you might want to get your eyes checked, too! 

Until next time, God bless and safe hunting.